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Paper Information

Journal:   PAZHOHESH-HA-YE BASTANSHENASI IRAN   SPRING 2018 , Volume 8 , Number 16 ; Page(s) 7 To 26.
 
Paper: 

Chah-e Jam, a Paleolithic Site on the South of Damqan

 
 
Author(s):  VAHDATI NASAB HAMED, Hashemi Seyyed Milad
 
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Abstract: 
As a result of archaeological investigations of the last two decades in the Northern part of the Iranian Central Desert, numbers of Paleolithic localities have been discovered. The condition of this part of the Iranian Plateau in the context of the Late Pleistocene archaeology has been vague before such discoveries. The presence of two distinct geomorphological formations of desert and mountains in close proximity has created a unique geography in the region, with several corridors lying between them, which could have been used by Pleistocene populations. The width of these corridors has been subjected to constant changes through expansions and contractions of the Iranian Central Desert. Aside from two potential coastal routes one in the north and the other, south of the Iranian Plateau, the northern fringes of the Iranian Central Desert has been recently identified as the third dispersal route, presenting accessible routes for hominins dispersing out of Africa to eastward. In addition to the Paleolithic localities discovered from the western (the modern-day provinces of Zanjā n and Qazvin), central (Tehrā n province), and southern (Isfahā n modern province) parts of the center of Iranian Plateau, some other Paleolithic sites have been discovered which are located in the modern province of Semnā n; including Mirak, Delā zian, and Sū fi-Ā bā d. One of the newly-discovered open-air sites of the Northern part of the Iranian Central Desert is Chā h-e Jam. It is located about 300 km east of Tehrā n, south of the modern city of Dā mqā n and north of Hā ji Ali-qoli (Chā h-e Jam) playa. Geomorphological studies indicate that the Iranian Central Desert has previously consisted of several lakes, the remains of them are still visible in form of numerous playas across the desert. It seems that the Hā ji Ali-qoli (Chā h-e Jam) playa have had a key role in the formation of Chah-e Jam Paleolithic site throughout the late Pleistocene. Chā h-e Jam has been discovered during an archaeological expedition in the summer of 2014, directing by Vahdati Nasab. The expedition was part of a long-term archaeological project known as “ Paleolithic surveys of the northern central desert of Iran” . The project’ s area of survey begins from the boundaries of the border of the modern provinces of Tehran-Semnan west to Khā r-Tū rā n National Park in the east. Chā h-e Jam lies within the eastern part of the region of study. The Northern edge of the Iranian Central Desert has been subject to several seasons of systematic Paleolithic surveys from 2009, all have been directed by by Vahdati Nasab. The scattes surface lithics of the site widely but thinly, throughout an area as large as about 18 km2(9×2km). The discovery of Chā h-e Jam implies the likeliness that the climatic condition of the late Pleistocene was rather different from today’ s arid condition. A total of 525 lithic artifacts were collected during the 2014 field mission. Regarding to lithics’ raw material, various rocks with volcanic origins (i. e., igneous rocks) make over 50% of the assemblage, while the other half is made on chert, sandstone, and siltstone. No outcrops of chert and tuff were seen in the area. The majority of the assemblage demonstrate signs of weathering, and one piece represents evidence of heavy water erosion. Techno-typological analysis of lithic assemblage recovered from Chā h-e Jam indicates an abundance of levallois technology and numerous retouched tool types (e. g., Levallois points, and all types of convergent scrapers), leading the site to be attributed principally to the Middle Paleolithic period. The presence of some typological elements of later periods indicates that the site has been inhabited during Upper/Epipaleolithic periods as well. This site, along with other Middle Paleolithic occupations of this landscape, indicate that climatic conditions of Late Pleistocene were significantly different to present, and the presence of playa lakes and associated vegetation permitted hominin populations to occupy the currently arid areas.
 
Keyword(s): The Northern Fringes of the Iranian Central Desert,Chah-e Jam,Middle Paleolithic,Lithics
 
References: 
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