The Early Neolithic Period in the Urmia Lake Region



The study of the Early Neolithic period in the Urmia Lake region, in Iranian Azerbaijan, was a problem: none of the studies published so far provides convincing evidence for the Early Neolithic settlements. There are some well-known and well excavated/surveyed Neolithic sites around the Urmia Lake such as Hajji Firuz, Yanik Tepe, and Ahrendjan Tepe. Contrary to what has been posited in the site publications, the materials from these sites date back to both the Early Pottery Neolithic and the Late Neolithic, c. 6500-5000 BC. There is, however, growing evidence for traces of an Early Pottery Neolithic occupation, generally at the same horizon with Jarmo II, Sarab, Guran II and Tepe Abdul- Hosein II in Northern- Central Zagros, c.7000-6000 BC. This paper revisits former studies on the basis of recently studied Ahrendjan- Qara Tepe in comparison to Hajji Firuz tradition. Moreover, it puts forward a new interpretation of the Early Neolithic period in the Urmia Lake region, rather than presenting some new data. In accordance with a diffusionist approach, the author finally concludes that both the Early and Late Neolithic sites of the region were affected by contemporary developments in the Northern-Central Zagros.