The Iranian Plateau from Paleolithic Times to the Rise of the Achaemenid Empire

Kamyar Abdi

in The Oxford Handbook of Iranian History

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199732159
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

The Iranian Plateau from Paleolithic Times to the Rise of the Achaemenid Empire

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)



Unlike Mesopotamia/Egypt, which possesses a linear topography, Iran's broken topography renders documentation of its archaeological history difficult. An inconsistent topography has engineered development of region-based sociocultural diversity. As such, archaeological documentation has differentially highlighted across the Iranian spectrum. Since it is vertically bracketed between two seas, Iran was the only land bridge accessible to prehistoric hunter-gatherers during migration from Africa to southeast Asia. The rise of early states in the region commenced during the last lithic era (ca. 4000 to 3200 ,,bce). Study of the Bronze Age merits appraising two critical cultural strains: the Proto-Elamite; the Yanik sphere. Halfway during this era, the Iranian Plateau experienced a short florescence of urbanism—regions like Hissar, Yahya, and Jiroft were connected to Central Asia, via commercial networks. The intermediate between the Bronze and Iron Ages was marked by the settlement of Indo-Europeans, the progenitors of the Iranian tongue.

Keywords: Iran; broken topography; sociocultural diversity; migration; florescence; urbanism; commercial networks; Indo-Europeans

Article.  11763 words. 

Subjects: History ; Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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