Newly Discovered Iron Age Architecture on South-West Caspian Sea Beaches on the Basis of the Excavation at Kafarestan, Dailaman, Gilan, Iran
A major outstanding question for the archaeology of the southwest Caspian Sea Basin concerns to the nature of settlements in prehistoric times in particular in the Iron Age, while large parts of the archaeological work on this period in Gilan have concentrated, since 1901, on the Iron Age (15th-8th centuries B.C.) burial sites. Due to the lack of basic research questions and systematic surveys, the nature of settlements and the type of architecture used by the regional population still continue to elude us. Thus, many unanswered questions remain: How were the distribution of settlements and settlement patterns? What factors have been responsible for the paucity of recorded evidence on contemporary settlements? What types of plans and architectural spaces were used in these settlements, if there were any such? Many scholars believed that the regional population lacked any sturdy residential structures, and that there no traces of sedentary settlements existed there. The present work attempts to furnish an outline of the architectural characteristics of the region. The study uses a combination of documentary and field research methods, building on both library research and results from excavations at such sites as Kafarestan, Motlakuh laid within the Southwest Caspian Basin. The objectives and insights of the present work may be summarized as follows: Reconstructing the Iron Age cultures drawing on the contemporaneous architectural evidence excavated in the plain, mountain base and mountainous landscapes and exploring the idiosyncrasies of Iron Age settlements in Gilan in light of excavations and surveys. Glancing through the evolution of architecture in Gilan from prehistoric through early Islamic centuries suggests that we may safely argue that the inhabitants of different parts of the region were aware of the peculiar climate dominated their surrounding environment. The literature on the archaeology of Gilan rarely includes vertical stratigraphic sequence which shed light on a series of stratified settlement deposits; rather it is generally predominated by horizontal stratigraphy, which consist only of one or two phases of use in cemeteries. The reasons for the lack of identified contemporary houses in most of excavations across the region may be outlined as below: 1. A life-style depending on animal husbandry and pastoralism, and seasonal migrations obviated the need for more complete, durable structures; 2. The ancient regional population probably did not felt the need to use stone, because simple and lighter construction materials such as wood were abundantly available. Insurability and short life of wood has deprived us of the wooden house of these people; 3. The majority of excavations in Gilan have focused on cemeteries, so we must look for sites which contains occupational deposits; 4. Detachment of the region from the universal developmental trends which was under way in other parts of Iran and, consequently, its backwardness in architecture and adoption of new techniques in architecture and building decorations. 5. The regional architecture at the time tended to be plain and void of geometrical properties.On the other hand, the residential structures lacked footings, with the main building actually sitting on a sort of wooden platform to prevent moisture ingress. Therefore, the superstructure vanished overtime, leaving no traces of the building, because, as noted, there were no footing to its trace. Establishing an absolute date and the chronological attribution of the finds from Iron Age settlement sites in Gilan and Mazandaran may require large-scale and more extensive excavations. A shift to targeted research projects in the province is then vital. Thus, instead of excavating burial sites, which are already well-known as a result of the long history archaeological work, we ought to focus on settlements and mounds with deep sequences in our research policies. Excavation of various exposures of architecture from different periods and drawing their clear-cut plans will enable us to identify variant forms of the regional architecture, which will then provide answer to one of the most essential questions on the regional culture.
نشریه پژوهش های باستان شناسی ایران, Volume:7 Issue: 13, 2017
65 - 82
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