Found in: Archaeological sites in Iran
Godin Tepe is a prehistoric settlement in western Iran, situated in the valley of Kangavar. Discovered in 1961, the site was excavated from 1965 and during the 1970s by an American expedition headed by T. Cuyler Young Jr. and sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum . The importance of the site was due to its control over the early lapis-lazuli trade between Badakhshan in Afghanistan and the Mesopotamian flood plain. Cuyler-Young suggested the existence of Elamite trading posts at the site established by merchants from Susa.
Although the excavations concentrated on levels II (ended c. 500 BC?) to V (c. 3200 BC-3000 BC), the site was inhabited since much earlier, c. 5000 BC.
During the 1973 campaign, level V was excavated through a deep cut from the citadel. It was occupied during the period 3200 BC-3000 BC. At the end of level V there was a clear gap in the settlement sequence. There were signs of fire, such as room 22 whose roof was burned. The houses were in general well-preserved and contained many artefacts, but objects made of the precious metal were lacking. The archaeological evidence support the idea the settlement was abandoned quickly, but in an orderly manner.
The pottery of level V show influences from the Ubaid-culture, with parallels at Susa, Uruk (IV) and Nippur. The typical Jemdet Nasr tall storage jars, known from Nippur, and the bevelled rim bowls of Uruk are missing however.
Thirteen seal impressions and two cylinder seals were found at level V. They were obviously produced locally, as shown by the discovery of an uncarved cylinder. The seal impressions show a parallel with Uruk, Susa and other sites in Khuzestan. They were partly decorated with drill holes. Steatite served as raw material for these, sometimes treated with tempering.
At level V some 43 clay tablets were found of which 27 were preserved in one piece. They contained primarily accounts, like those discovered at temporary Proto-Elamite and Uruk period sites in western Iran and Mesopotamia.
Level IV 3000-2650 BC represents the "invasion" of the northern Yanik-culture (or Transcaucasian Early Bronze I culture), best known from Yanik Tepe (Azerbaijan). The only notable architectural remains of this period consist of a number of plastered hearths .T.Cuyler Young Jr. defined three main groups of pottery for Level IV. Two of these groups belong to Transcaucasian Early Bronze Age Culture. One of these groups bears two types of coarse ware tempered with coarse grits. One of these types is characterized by a grey-black burnished surface mostly with contrasting colours in the interior and exterior of the vessels. This type of coarse ware was used for producing bowls entirely. Conical bowls decorated with incised and excised designs are common; the incised designs are occasionally filled with a whitish paste. The second type of coarse ware is lighter in colour, often tan or pinkish buff. The surface of the vessels is either burnished or plain. Besides bowls there are jars with protruding rims and concave or recessed necks .
The second group of Transcaucasian Pottery found at Godin Tepe was classified as Common Ware. The fabric of this group was tempered by medium-fine grit and was not well-fired. This group of pottery has the same colour range like the coarse ware. The surfaces are highly burnished though the vessels with a light interior and dark exterior are predominant. The forms consist entirely of cups, including the recessed neck types. The decoration is similar in style and technique to the previous coarse wares, but the excised designs are less common.
Level III (c. 2600 BC-1500/1400 BC) shows connections with Susa and most of Luristan, and it has been suggested that it belonged to the Elamite confederacy.
Near 1400 BC, Godin Tepe was abandoned and was not re-occupied until c. 750 BC.
Level II is represented by a single structure, a fortified, mud brick walled architectural complex (133 m x 55 m) that belonged to a Mede chief. The columned halls are in the same architectural tradition of the later Persian halls , first documented at Hasanlu (V). The Level II pottery (only wheel-made micaceous buff ware) have strong parallels with Iron Age sites as Baba Jan (I), Jameh Shuran (IIa), Tepe Nush-i Jan and Pasargadae.
It is believed that Godin was again abandoned during the 6th century BC, perhaps as a result or in anticipation of the expansion of Cyrus the Great (c. 550 BC) .
A late, Islamic shrine (c. XV century).
Stuart Brown: "Media in the Achaemenid Period: The Late Iron Age in Central West Iran", in Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg & Amelie Kuhrt, Achaemenid History IV: Centre and Periphery (1990), Leinden.
Harvey Weiss and T. Cuyler Young Jr.: The Merchants of Susa (1976).T. Cuyler Young Jr.: "Godin Tepe", in Encyclopaedia Iranica.
1] A.G. Sagona: The Caucasian Region in the Early Bronze Age(1984),B.A.R. International Series (214). Oxford.
Godin Tepe at http://hms.upenn.edu/