ARCHIRAN - Ancient Iran: A Social Archaeology


Supported by a major grant from the European Research Council in the FP7 Marie Curie Incoming International Fellowship scheme, ARCHIRAN is a research project co-directed by Roger Matthews of the University of Reading and Hassan Fazeli Nashli of the University of Tehran and University of Reading. Working together Dr Fazeli Nashli and Professor Matthews are producing a synthetic study of Iran's past as a single volume for publication by Routledge during 2015 in their Routledge World Archaeology series.


ARCHIRAN: the Achaemenid capital city of Persepolis, IranIn studying the human past, the country of Iran (ancient Persia) has strong claim to host some of the most significant developments anywhere on the planet. After the last Ice Age, from 11,000 BCE onwards, human communities across Iran began to settle down in villages and domesticate the wild animals and plants around them. They changed from hunter-foragers to farmers and animal herders, and they were amongst the first in the world to do so.

In later times, Iran was central to the rise of urban, literate societies from 4000 BCE, maximising the value of its rich resources in the form of copper, silver, timber, carnelian and other commodities, to underpin Iran's key role in a complex phenomenon across the ancient Near East often called the rise of civilisation. From 2000 BCE Iran participated in a series of increasingly large and powerful empires, culminating in the Achaemenid empire of the mid-first millennium BCE that stretched from the eastern shores of Europe to the Central Asian deserts, from the Black Sea coast to the Nile valley.

Aims and objectives

The archaeology of Iran thus provides a uniquely rich complex of research arenas within which to approach highly significant episodes of the human past. The current research proposal aims firstly to maximise that potential and secondly to succeed in bringing the value of Iranian archaeology to broader and deeper public attention, within Europe and beyond. In today's ever-expanding Europe, with Iran as a future next-door neighbour, the need for a richer understanding and appreciation of Iran's past, and thereby also of its present, could hardly be more urgent and significant.

The major research objective is to conduct a synthetic and analytical study of the archaeology of Iran. The output will be a co-authored book, provisionally titled "Ancient Iran: a Social Archaeology", which will stand as a state of the art articulation and exploration of major themes and issues in the archaeology of Iran. There is a serious need for an up-to-date synthesis of the archaeology of Iran, in its geographical entirety, situated within the context of modern scientific approaches and theoretical frameworks.

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