عنوان مقاله [English]
If we divide Iran into four parts, we will see that the major part of activities and explorations carried out on the Iron Age is related to the northwestern quarter. This issue becomes important when we knowledge that the Iron Age chronology in Iran has been created based on the generalization of limited exploration results obtained from few sites in a small part of the Northwest. On the other hand, Iran’s eastern part completely ignored in the archaeological excavations of the Iron Age. Except for a handful of publications, our knowledge of the Iron Age in Northeast Iran is negligible. In this paper, using the latest research, we will try to present an image of the Iron Age in the Middle Atrak basin. For the first time, this article describes the pottery and features of the pottery tradition in this area. In this article, the pottery of the Middle Atrak basin is identified and classified into seven groups. According to the clay studies, the Middle Atrak in the Iron Age was part of the pottery tradition of the Archaic Dehistan. Dehistan is the desert in northern part of Gorgan plain, which is today located in southern Turkmenistan. The characteristic of this pottery is gray clay that originated from the black gray pottery of the Eastern Alborz in Bronze Age. Alongside the prevailing pottery tradition in the Middle Atrak basin, there are a number of well-known pottery clays known as Yaz I, which shows cultural exchanges and interactions with the people of the Yaz I. This study suggested that the Middle Atrak basin, due to its adjacency with culture Yaz 1, may play a significant role in the formation of tradition, which later became known as Silk VI.
Keywords: North Eastern Iran, Iron Age, Middle Atrak Basin, Archaic Dehistan, Yaz I.
The Iron Age chronology in Iran has been created based on the generalization of limited exploration results obtained from few sites in a small part of the Northwest (Young 1965, 1967, Dyson 1965). On the other hand, Iran’s eastern part in general and the northeastern part in specific, completely ignored in the archaeological excavations of the Iron Age. Our knowledge of the Iron Age in Northeast Iran, which today includes the entire province of North Khorasan and northern parts of Khorasan Razavi province, is negligible.
Recently, it has been take steps to identification of the Iron Age in this region (Dana & Hejebri Nobari 2017, Basafa 2017, Vahdati 2016, 2018, Biscione & Vahdati 2012). It seems that some parts of the Northeastern of Iran was belonged to cultural sphere of Archaic Dehistan, and other parts to Yaz I culture. The Archaic Dehistan is characterized by potteries with majority of gray and a small percentage of red sherds (Kuz’mina 2007:379); all of sites of this culture was formed on virgin soil which all of them was abandoned suddenly without to transition to the next period (Kohl 1984: 206). The Yaz I period is characterized by handmade sherds painted by geometric motifs (Masson 1959). The sites of this period is formed on virgin soil and there is a clear gap between it and the previous period in all the excavated sites (Genito 1998: 90).
In this paper, using the latest research, we will try to present an image of the Iron Age in the part of Iran northeast with an emphasis on the Middle Atrak basin. We used the data from explorations and identifications by some Iranian archaeologists in north Khorasan. As a result, 61 sites of the Iron Age were identified in the Middle Atrak basin. The data obtained from the surface survey of these sites were reviewed and added to the data from the excavations of two sites in the same area: Tappeh Bimarestan (Dana & Hejebri Nobari 2017) and Tappeh Rivi (Jafari et al. 2016).
The main object of this research is to answer this question which the middle Atrak Iron Age site was belonged to culture or pottery traditions. In addition, what are the characteristics of the Iron Age pottery of this basin?
The pottery is only findings in the survey of the Iron Age sites of the Middle Atrak. The survey potteries are divided to three class of buff, red and gray. The making of gray pottery date backs to the Bronze Age in this region (Askarpour 2009). Essentially, the Iron Age gray pottery tradition has continued from the Bronze Age pottery tradition. Based on the surface survey, A few sites have a Bronze Age-Iron Age sequence. Based on the surveyor’s opinion (Rajabi 2014) and authors, the Takhteh Sir (IAMA49) is the key site to understanding of the Bronze and Iron Age of the region. It seems possible to obtain a bronze to Iron Age sequence in this site. It should be noted that there are several sites cannot be attributed to the Bronze Age or Iron Age despite having gray pottery on the surface, because these sherds are either body or have no typical characteristics so that they can be attributed to one of the two periods. One of the features of Iron Age potteries of the middle Atrak are low diversity of forms and types of sherds and also simplicity of ware edges. It is obvious in the excavations the region such as extensive excavation of Tappeh Bimarestan (IAMA37) (Dana & Hejebri Nobari 2017) and the stratigraphic excavation in Tappeh Rivi (IAMA34) (Jafari et al. 2016). While excavations in the north central of Iran’ sites such as Qeytariyeh Cemetery (Kambakhsh Fard 2007), Sialk Cemetery (Ghirshman 1939) and the residential site of Qoli Darvish (Sarlak 2011), the variety of ware forms is so great that it is not comparable to the Iron Age sites of Middle Atrak.
The typical sherds of Iron Age of the region is low. These potteries can generally be divided into 7 types based on forms.
A) Tripod bowl
B) Simple inverted rim bowl
C) Handled jar
D) neckled jar
E) Bowl with horizontal handle stick to rim
F) Spouted pottery
G) Painted pottery entitled Yaz I
As one of the most important region around the archaic Dehistan culture, the middle Atrak basin was a place where communication and cultural interactions with the people of Yazd I culture established. Cultural exchanges were made between the two cultures in this way. Bowl with a ring handle attached to the edge of the Yaz I culture has entered to the Archaic Dehistan culture and was widely used by them. On the other hand, most of pottery forms of the Archaic Dehistan, especially the beak-shaped tubular vessels, was considered by people of the Yazd I culture. These cultural exchanges, especially what of the Yaz I people received from the Archaic Dehistan culture in term of cultural materials, may be signs of a cultural formation that the flourishing example of which is appeared in the Silk B Cemetery. Although the motifs of Silk B Cemetery, except in a few cases, in geometric one, do not resemble the Yaz I culture, but the color of the pottery, the color of the paints and the general characteristics of the pottery, as some researchers emphasize, are the signs this closeness. The dating is also support this assumption. In this regard, if the 8th century BC date is accepted for Silk VI, if the wave of expansion toward to the West was created by newcomers to modern-day Iran (who were probably belonged to the Yaz I culture), it is suggested an older date from Silk 6, the second half of the second millennium BC, for the early stages of cultural formation known as the Silk B Cemetery or Silk VI in the next few centuries by the authors.