Prehistoric Pottery from the Marv Dasht Plain, Iran

Yoshihiro Nishiaki
The University Museum,
The University of Tokyo

The Tokyo University Iraq-Iran Archaeological Expedition, headed by the late Professor Namio Egami, carried out three seasons of excavations in the Marv Dasht plain, southwestern Iran, from 1956 to 1965 (Fig. 1). Their excavations yielded a large pottery collection uniquely derived from the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods of this part of Iran. The pottery specimens documented in this catalogue represent a selection of those generously granted by the then Directorate-General of Archaeological Service of Iranian Government to the University of Tokyo. They include replicas of the specimens stored at the Teheran Museum as well.

The excavations took place at the following sites, all prehistoric mounds situated in the vicinity of Persepolis (Fig.2).
  1956: Tall-i Bakun A, and Tall-i Bakun B
  1959: Tall-i Gap A, Tall-i Jari A, Tall-i Jari B, and Tall-i Mushki
  1965: Tall-i Mushki
  One of the major contributions made by these excavations was revision of the chronology suggested for this plain by the previous investigators, notably by L. Vanden Berghe, a Belgium archaeologist in the 1950s. The pottery occurrences at these sites consist of all the known cultural entities of Mushki to Bakun, covering a long uninterrupted sequence of nearly two millennia.

The ways of documenting the specimens in this catalogue follow the previous volume (Y. Nishiaki, Part 5: Prehistoric Pottery from Telul eth-Thalathat, Iraq, 2000). Plates and descriptive data are presented according to the sites in the chronological order, and in principle by chronologically preceding pottery earlier within each site group. The descriptive data incorporates unpublished information on the pottery provenance. An index by specimen numbers is attached to the end of the present volume.

Details of the Japanese excavations and their finds, including the typological description of the pottery, will be found in the following publications.

Egami, N. and S. Masuda (1959) Marv Dasht, Vol. I, The Excavations of Tall i-Bakun, 1956. The Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

Egami, N. and T. Sono (1962) Marv Dasht, Vol. II, The Excavations of Tall i-Gap, 1959. The Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

Egami, N. (1967) Excavations at two prehistoric sites, Tape Djari A and B in the Marv Dasht Basin. In: Survey of Persian Art, edited by U. Pope, pp. 2936-2939. Asia Institute of Pahlavi University, Shiraz.

Egami, N., S. Masuda and T. Gotoh (1977) Tal-I Jari A: A preliminary report on the excavations in Marv Dasht, 1961 (sic) and 1971. Orient 13: 1-14.

Fukai, S., K. Horiuchi and T. Matsutani (1973) Marv Dasht, Vol. III, The Excavations of Tall i-Mushki, 1965. The Institute of Oriental Culture, The University of Tokyo.

Hori, A. and A. Maeda (1984) Prehistoric culture of the Marv Dasht. Orient 27(1): 54-75. (in Japanese with English summary)

Maeda, A. (1986) A study on the painted pottery from Tepe Djari B. Bulletin of the Ancient Orient Museum 8: 55-86. (in Japanese)

Sono, T. (1967) Recent excavations at Tepe Gap, Marv Dasht. In: Survey of Persian Art, edited by U. Pope, pp. 2940-2946. Asia Institute of Pahlavi University, Shiraz.

Sono, T. (1974) Early Farming Societies of Western Asia. Yamakawa Publishing Co., Tokyo. (in Japanese)

  This catalogue was originally published as a monograph in 2003. On this occasion of publishing its electronic version, we made revisions of the stratigraphy of Jari B and the Neolithic chronology of the Marv Dasht plain. The revisions were made possible through the generous assistance provided in 2006 by Mrs. Shizue Sato and Professor Ken Amakasu, a field assistant who participated in the 1959 excavations. With the aid of the provided resources, including stratigraphic drawings and excavation records, the reconstruction of the excavation processes and the stratigraphy of Jari B became possible. The levels assigned to the pottery from Jari B in this electronic catalogue reflect those revisions. In addition, new radiocarbon dates have come into available for the sites of Mushki and Jari B in these years, by which the entire chronological scheme for the Neolithic sequence of the Marv Dasht plain can now be reconstructed with more secure evidence. For these recent developments of research, see the following papers.

Nishiaki, Y (2010) A radiocarbon chronology of the Neolithic settlement of Tall-i Mushki, Marv Dasht plain, Fars, Iran. Iran XLVIII: 1-10

Nishiaki, Y. and M. Mashkour (2006) The stratigraphy of the Neolithic site of Jari B, Marv Dasht, southwest Iran. Orient Express - Notes et Nouvelles d'Archéologie Orientale 2006(3): 77-81.

Pollock, S., R. Bernbeck and K. Abdi (2010) The 2003 Excavations at Tol-e Basi, Fars, Iran. Archäologie in Iran und Turan 10. Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Mainz.

Yoshihiro Nishiaki
October 2010