The Ganj Dareh archaeological site is located in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. It is known for its historical significance in the study of early agriculture and human civilization. Known as one of the many neolithic sites in the Fertile Crescent. It in the lower eastern corner.
The oldest settlement dates back to 10,000 years here. It included the earliest evidence for goat domestication in the world. Though the presence of two-row barley is the only evidence for domesticated crops found at the site so far. It is also an important site for the study of Luristan and Kurdistan ceramics.
Two early ceramic traditions are evident
One is based on the use of clay for figurines and small geometric pieces like cones and disks. Possibly for bin, container, plug and porthole covers.
Did you know? Portholes are circular or oval openings in the walls of alcoves or rooms. Plugs are disc-like or conical objects of clay, often with finger-holes, that were used to seal or block the portholes. They stopped things like bacteria, rodents and bugs.
The other ceramic tradition. Is mud-walled buildings
This tradition is shared with many sites in the region.
One of the levels (D). Provides a very detailed view of neolithic architecture
Because of damages from a fire. The brick and clay structures were baked. Preserving some of the architecture here.
Walls themselves, display a surprisingly wide range of construction methods. Including several kinds of sun dried bricks
At least one unusual variant of chineh (packed mud, or pise); and,
Walls made of coarse rubble plastered on both faces.
The most elegant of the several kinds of bricks made and used here are ‘plano(flat)-convex’
These are boat-shaped in profile with curved, tapering ends, convex bases and flat upper surfaces. They were set with the convex side down, and mud plaster laid as mortar between them. They were then coated with one or more layers of mud plaster on each side (picture above). These type of bricks were also found a little earlier at different sites. Like Jericho and Tell Aswad . But slightly different. They were thicker and more ‘hog back’ there. They were also laid with the flat side below, not above.
They are made by placing the clay on a flat surface, and shaping the convex face by hand
The size range is considerable. Longest ones measuring about 0.95m and the shortest about 0.50m, or possibly less.
There are many different shaped bricks here
Cigar, and sausage shapes are common. Though some have rough convex plano sections. And, at times several of these methods were used. Like in a single building or single wall.
It must have been quite extravagant
Some structures were multiple verticle levels. Sharing similarities with other fertile crescent sites: Hacilar, Çatalhöyük, Çayönü Tepesi, Abu Hureyra and, others. The fire preserved things. 30-40cm thin walls (12-16″) was alittle thin in comparision. But they seemed to be reinforeced against each other for strength. And, had roofs as well.
Ganj Dareh, along with other Neolithic sites in the Near East, has contributed to our understanding of the early development of agriculture and the transition to more complex, settled societies. These changes were pivotal in human history and laid the foundation for the rise of civilization in the region.
Bibliography: Natural History Highlight: Old Goats In Transition (http://www.mnh.si.edu/highlight/goats/) Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20151220200810/http://www.mnh.si.edu/highlight/goats/) 2015-12-20 at the Wayback Machine, National Museum of Natural History (July 2000)
Gallego-Llorente, M.; et al. (2016). “The genetics of an early Neolithic pastoralist from the Zagros, Iran” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4977546). Scientific Reports. 6:31326. doi:10.1038/srep31326 (https://doi.org/10.1038%2Fsrep31326). PMC 4977546 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4977546). PMID 27502179 (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27502179).
Philip E. L. Smith. “Architectural Innovation and Experimentation at Ganj Dareh, Iran.” World Archaeology, vol. 21, no. 3, 1990, pp. 323–35. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/124833. Accessed 14 Nov. 2021