عنوان مقاله [English]
The periods from 6300 until 5600 B.C.E in Fars region are known as the Mushki and Jari periods. The architectural remains as well as geometric stone tools, wild animals’ bones, particularly horses, are all indicating the existence of a seasonal settlement based on hunting in Tol-e Mushki which is transformed into a sedentary settlement with a distinct type of architecture and a subsistence based on agriculture in Tol-e Jari B. The distinct cultural phenomenon probably linked to Mushki period could have been caused by a sudden climate change. It is suggested that the weather became cold and dry for centuries, until around 6200 B.C.E when the conditions again improved. Furthermore, these climate changes have had direct influences on socioeconomic strategies of Neolithic societies in the Fars. However, the relationship between culture and climate is only one of the possible explanations for the observed cultural changes; more studies are needed. The majority of archeologists believe that severe climate changes following the 8.2 ka Event forced Neolithic societies to adapt to new conditions. It is possible that some of them migrated to regions with more tolerable conditions while others found alternative survival strategies such as hunting or food collecting instead of cultivating. Intermountain valleys in Fars region are required to be studied precisely and extensively in order to achieve a more comprehensive understanding of this period. During a survey by the authors in 2015 in the Bavanat River Basin in northeastern Fars, the most prominent Neolithic occupation of the region was identified in Hormangan, a site first excavated in 2016. The excavation sought to understand cultural characteristics, investigate subsistence strategy according to studies based on vegetal and bone finds and regional and intraregional interactions. There is an attempt in this paper to introduce the findings of the first excavation season, and then define chronological importance of the Neolithic site in the province. There were two recognized settlement phases revealed through the excavations which show migration from the other valleys to the Bavanat region during latter half of the 7th millennium, due to climatic changes.
Keywords: Bananat River Basin, Neolithic Period, Mushki Period, Hunting Societies.
Introduction & Method
The site of Hormangan is a Pottery Neolithic site, which is located in the Bavanat River basin in north-eastern Fars, south-west Iran. The Bavanat River basin is located on the northern edge of the Zagros Mountains.. A. Stein conducted a brief survey in the 1930s and B. Helwing and Askari Chaverdi undertook a survey around Monj in the Bavanat River basin in 2007 (Helwing 2007; Stein 1936). Therefore, one of the authors (Morteza Khanipour) undertook the first intensive archaeological survey in the Bavanat River basin from March to May in 2015 (Khanipour 2015). The Bavanat River basin is a narrow intermontane valley in the Zagros Mountains. The plain is 50 km long and 10 km wide. The Bavanat River runs through the plain from the north-west to the south-east. Approximately 200 archaeological sites were discovered by the survey. The archaeological sites span from the Neolithic to the Islamic period. The site of Hormangan is the only Neolithic site discovered during the survey and is currently the oldest site in the Bavanat River basin.
The site is extending north- south; its eastern parts were disturbed by agricultural activities. The first season of excavation took place for 45 days during March - April 2016. Major goals were: 1) to understand the settlement’s stratigraphy, 2) its relative and absolute chronology, 3) to investigate the site’s regional interaction, 4) retrieving faunal and botanical remains to reconstruct subsistence patterns, 5) to identify evidence of cultural and commercial exchange, 6) to identify site functions during the different occupations, and, in general, 7) to trace political and social evolutions.
In order to determine the site’s extent, some fourteen 1 x 1 m test trenches were dug in the different parts of the mound, followed by the excavation of three trenches (8x8, 5x5, and 4x4 m). They reached depths of some 1 m, exposing cultural layers from the late 7th millennium B.C.E. This site is less than 0.5 ha in size and the artificial deposits of the site are very shallow (less than 1 m in thickness). The excavation revealed two phases; the early phase and late phase. In the late phase, rectangular buildings built of chineh were constructed, while no remains of buildings were discovered from the early phase. Only ash lenses and hearths were excavated from the early phase, suggesting that the site was used as a camp site during the early phase. Although two phases were identified at Hormangan, there are no clear differences in the material culture between them. Both phases yielded very similar pottery shards. Table 1 shows a chronology that was developed in northern Fars (Azizi Kharanaghi 2014; Khanipour in press; Weeks 2013). The chronology begins with Aceramic Neolithic phase (Rahamatabad Phase) (7500 B.C.E~7000 B.C.E). The Aceramic Neolithic phase is followed by the Formative Mushki phase (7000 B.C.E~6400 B.C.E), which was recently advocated by H. Azizi Kharanaghi, based on his excavation at Rahamatabad and Qasr-e Ahmad, the Mushki phase (6400 B.C.E ~ 6000 B.C.E), and the Jari phase (6000 B.C.E ~ 5600 B.C.E) (Azizi Kharanaghi 2014; Khanipour in press; Weeks 2013). Recently, a new phase, the Bashi phase, was also advocated and introduced between the Mushki phase and Jari phase (Bernbeck 2010; Pollock 2010). The Bashi phase dates to the period from 6100 B.C.E and 6000 B.C.E (Nishiaki 2010; Weeks 2010). However, one of the authors (Morteza Kha- nipour) concludes that the Bashi phase cannot be accepted as a separate phase based on the excavation at Hormangan (Khanipour in press). The pottery excavated from the early and late phases of Hor- mangan can be classified as Mushki-type pottery. Additionally, cylindrical stone objects were excavated from Hormangan. These objects are interpreted as earrings or game tokens. Similar objects were excavated from Tall-i Mushki by the University of Tokyo (Fukai et al. 1973). In addition, Hor- mangan yielded shells and natural copper artefacts (Khanipour 2016).
The finds from Hormangan increase our knowledge about the material culture of Mushki period (hunting societies), especially with regard to pottery variability, chronology and site distribution. Information from the site, especially on the technical and cultural aspects of the Neolithic community including its pottery production, long-distance contacts, subsistence patterns, chipped stone inventory, provided a better understanding of the Mushki culture. Regarding climate changes during the seventh millennium B.C.E in Middle East, we observe alterations in settlement patterns in this period, also supported by evidence from other sites in Fars province. The two recognized settlement phases might be an evidence for migration from the Kur River Basin to the Bavanat region during latter half of the 7th millennium, expected to be caused by climate change. The earlier phase is assumed to show a seasonal settlement (absence of architecture), represented by thin layers and several hearths. The later phase could be regarded as a sedentary settlement with substantial architectural remains. The burnt structure was probably a primary open kiln which have not been reported from the Fars Neolithic sites yet. It should be noted, however, that the kiln existed contemporaneously with the site’s later phase. By comparing the findings of this site with the sites of the Kur river basin (Tol-e Mushki, Tol-e Jeri, Tol-e Bashi, RahmatAbad and Kushk-e Hezar), the earlier phase of the site currently can be dated to between 6375 and 6200 B.C. while the later phase has to be dated between 6200 to 6000 B.C.E.