عنوان مقاله [English]
The archaeological site of Kholah Kouh, due to its special location in urban districts of Takestan town, has been threatened by construction and developing activities. Some parts of the site completely destroyed by construction of mall, residential houses and mosque. Just 3.5 ha of site remained from 7 ha core zone. Takestan Municipality, in the framework of construction programs of 2010 decade, decided to transform this mound to a park and a car parking area. In this regard, Kholah Kouh Salvage Archaeological Project started subsequently in 2014 by various research and administrative goals. Main objectives of excavations were identifying cultural characteristics of occupational periods, protection of site destroying by continuity of archaeological activities, and investigating site’s feasibility to establish an archaeological site museum and tourism cultural landscape in the site. Evidence of a Transitional Chalcolithic / Early Plateau B village from the first half of the fifth millennium BC had been discovered during excavations in the lower accumulations of site. This step of village settlements had significance due to substantial transformations in culture and economy of habitants of Central Plateau of Iran. Hence, the new evidence from Kholah Kouh were evaluated for better understanding of how and scale of these transformations. This paper, at the first, has a glance to the results of excavations. Then, by using the cultural ecology approach, attempts to interpret the finds, emphasizing relative and absolute chronology, cultural interactions, herding and agriculture. The results indicate that, Kholah Kouh has local and neighborhood regions traits. The pottery traditions show the cultural homogeneity in Central Plateau during Transitional Chalcolithic. Considerable developments are observable in agricultural activities based on irrigation and expand of exploitation of various products of sheep, goat and cattle during the period under discussion. The archaeobotanicl and paleontological researches indicate the domination of the dry climate in the mid fifth millennium BC which affected human habitats.
Keywords: Cultural Interaction, Bioarchaeology, Transitional Chalcolithic, Kholah Kouh, Central Plateau of Iran.
The archaeological site of Kholah Kouh is located in Takestan city, Qazvin Province. Some parts of site completely destroyed by construction of mall, residential houses and mosque in the last decades. The area of core zone estimated nearly 7 ha according to the previously delimitation sounding at site, while today, just 3.5 ha of site is remained. The salvage archaeological project had been conducted in the summer of 2014, due to the decision of Takestan Municipality to construction of parking and park area in core zone of Kholah Kouh. The main objectives of excavations were the identifying cultural characteristics of occupational periods, protection of site destroying and evaluation of site feasibility to establish an archaeological site museum and tourism cultural landscape. Given to the results of excavations, the lower accumulations of site, nearly 4 meters, belonged to the Transitional Chalcolithic / Early Plateau B period (the first half of fifth millennium BC), while the upper layers included Historic and Islamic periods. Many important cultural and economic transformations were evidenced during Transitional Chalcolithic (TC) period in the region. Hence, this paper deals with the introducing the new set of data from Kholah Kouh, emphasising relative and absolute chronology, cultural interactions, herding and agriculture.
Three trenches were exposed during the 2014 campaign in northern, center and southern parts of site, respectively named Tr. I, II, and III. The main finds of TC period were discovered in Trench I by four meters of cultural deposits and six occupational phases. The finds included young and infant human burials, piśe and mud-brick spaces, faunal and floral remains, potsherds, various special finds and etc. Also the lowermost layers of trenches II and III related to TC period. The typical ceramics of the first half of fifth millennium BC in the Qazvin Plain (Malek Shahmirzadi, 1977), were recovered at Kholah Kouh, such as Zagheh painted ware, crusted or standard ware, and Cheshmeh-Ali ware. Other types include simple buff and red wares, course red ware, and local painted red ware. The standard ware with 36% of collection is the most common type, whereas Cheshmeh-Ali ware consisted just 2% of potsherds. No major changes observed in general trend of ceramic frequency during occupational phases. A thermoluminescence dating of a potsherd from the deepest layer of Trench I, demonstrated the date of 4870±500 BC. TC period divided into two sub-periods, Early and Late, according to the new chronological framework of Central Plateau (Pollard et al., 2013). In this regard, Kholah Kouh seems to be related to the Early Transitional Chalcolithic, a time span between 5200-4600 BC.
Ceramic collection of Kholah Kouh compared with other sites in order to evaluation of cultural interactions in the Central Plateau of Iran. Tappeh Zagheh (Malek Shahmirzadi, 1977) and Ebrahim Abad (Fazeli et al., 2009) are well known TC sites in the Qazvin Plain, representing the same features with Kholah Kouh. Noticeable that, painted and standard wares of Zagheh, were more common in the Qazvin Plain than other areas of the region. These typical wares consists a few proportion of the ceramic collections of Tehran and Kashan plains (Fazeli et al., 2013). The pottery traditions, however, demonstrate the cultural homogeneity during the TC period in Central Plateau. The cultural traits of TC period, especially Cheshmeh-Ali ware, were reported in the excavated and surveyed sites of southern and southeastern shores of Caspian Sea, and eastern ridges of Central Zagros. Considering to these evidences, Takestan County could be allocated as north-westernmost expansion of TC culture. Two various pottery traditions were identified during the Early Chalcolithic: a Plum ware / Godin VII in the north and northwest, and fine painted Red and Buff / Sialk III1-3 more common in the eastern and southern areas of Central Plateau. Cultural interactions with southern Zagros and southwestern of Iran were evidenced by the presence of some cultural features of mentioned regions. Once again, the cultural homogeneity has observed during Middle and Late Chalcolithic periods by typical fine painted Buff and Red / Sialk III4-7 throughout Central Plateau and neighboring regions. The origin of these potteries goes back to the TC and EC period of the region. It seems that the cultural features of the Late Transitional Chalcolithic (4600-4300 BC) hadn’t well introduced yet.
The archaeobotanicl and paleontological researches indicated the domination of the dry climate in the mid fifth millennium BC, which probably affected decreasing human habitats.
The study of faunal and botanical remains of Kholah Kouh and their comparison with other sites of region, exhibited the striking developments in animal husbandry and agriculture. The exploitation of several products of sheep, goats and cattle evidenced at Kholah Kouh. Gazelle, onager, wild sheep and goat were the game animals. The low proportion of these animals in the collection, show the peripheral role of hunting in subsistence economy of Kholah Kouh habitants. The same trend was observed in animal exploitation of other contemporary sites in the region (Mashkour et al., 1999). The cattle counts increased from TC to LC periods. The herding of sheep and cattle in the fifth millennium BC, represented the developments of animal husbandry and sedentism. The identified plants included various types of wheat, barley and legume by using dry farming and irrigation. Considering to the Kholah Kouh results and other sites of the region, wheat and barley were the main cultivated crops and substantial source from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (Shirazi, 2006; Shirazi and Tengberg, 2012). The charcoal remains of tamarix, populus, amygdalus, solanaceae, chenopodiaceae and monocotyledon were identified in Kholah Kouh. Most of charcoals with 73% of collection belonged to the trees depend on more water and moisture condition, while just 1% related to the steppe plants. This evidence shows the wetter condition and the presence of river and springs in the periphery of site.