The Archaeology of Politics in the Highlands of Persia

Author(s): Tobin Hartnell

Year: 2015


The case of the Neo-Elamite highlands is significant for understanding more about the potential of archaeology to reconstruct elements of political history through politicized landscapes. This project is particularly important in ancient Iran, which did not create the types of literary genres or historical narratives found in Mesopotamian or Greco-Roman civilizations. For archaeologists studying the Elamite dynasties and the early Achaemenid Empire, the central problem is the absence of significant traces of settlement in the Persian highlands during the late Neo-Elamite (750-550 BC) period, accompanied by an almost complete absence of indigenous texts. Some scholars emphasized disruptions to local Elamite society after 1000 BC, whilst others emphasized the continuity observed in certain forms of material culture and a sub-set of settlements. However, both of these approaches need to reconcile the evidence to a larger problem of what continuity to the Achaemenid Empire actually meant for highland society at large. Without large numbers of sites or texts, archaeologists must rely on the analysis of the political and economic dimensions of the landscape in order to investigate this transition. This project seeks to contribute to a larger discussion of how studying landscapes can help archaeologists understand political trends in Iran and elsewhere.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

The Archaeology of Politics in the Highlands of Persia. Tobin Hartnell. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398019)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;