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The Prehistory of Southwestern Iran: A Preliminary Report

  • Frank Hole (a1) and Kent V. Flannery (a2)

Current research on the prehistory of the Near East is proceeding at a pace unmatched since the ‘golden era of archaeology’ immediately preceding World War II. Iran, because of its great archeological potential and its stable political situation, has become a prime target for new investigations. Expeditions from the United States, Great Britain, Denmark, France, and Japan have all made substantial contributions to knowledge of Iranian prehistory in the last five years.

One recurrent problem in the new research, however, is a lack of coordination and communication between expeditions, which means that many opportunities for useful cooperation are lost. For example, in 1961 we surveyed in some 15 valleys in western Iran, plotting the distribution of pre-Uruk settlements. Unbeknown to us, at least one American and one Danish survey team crossed our path, duplicated many of our survey runs, and excavated one of the sites found on our project. We later learned that we, in turn, had duplicated several survey runs made previously by a British team, who were interested mainly in later sites but would have been happy to share their data on sites in our range of interest. Had all of us known what our colleagues were doing, we could have saved ourselves many hours of duplication.

This situation is worsened by the fact that many surveys and test-excavations remain unpublished, and diagnostic artifacts remain undescribed. With regard to pottery sequences, the urgency of the problem has recently been stressed by one of our colleagues (Young 1966: footnote 28).

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Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
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