The transition from hunter-gatherer to farmer- herder is one of the most important issues in archaeological research of the Holocene period. The Zagros region of Iran, especially its central parts, has had an important role in initial phases of Neolithic research in Iran. Until a decade ago, lack of evidence on the transitional period between the end of the EpiPalaeolithic period and the beginning of the Neolithic period, caused some researchers believe that southern Zagros has received food-producing subsistence from other regions such as the Central Zagros. New investigations in the southern Zagros have shed a new light on the issues regarding the neolithisation process at the region.
Materials and methods
The region of Kohgiluyeh, at an elevation between 500 to 3600 meters above sea level, located in the southern Zagros highlands, has a high potential to tracking the transition from Epipalaeolithic to the Neolithic period. Based on archaeological surveys of Kohgiluyeh region, 16 sites from early Holocene period were identified. Regarding the typology of the sites, they include 5 mounded sites, 8 open sites, 2 rock shelters and one cave site. Our main criteria for assigning these sites to pre- pottery Neolithic period is the lack of Neolithic potteries on the surface of them and existence of bladelet and bladelet cores with pressure technique. Obviously, the assignment of at least a number of these sites to pre- pottery Neolithic period can be considered cautiously and it is possible that future research confirms or refutes it. The methodology of this research is processing the information fathered from archaeological surveys of the Kohgiluyeh region. The emphasis in this paper is on the lithic analyses collected from the surface of the sites.
Results and discussion
Geologically, mounded sites of the Neolithic period in the Kohgiluyeh region are formed in various landscapes include rolling hills landscape of the Maroun River, Dehdasht plain and foothills of the Khaeez mountains. The sites are sit at 674 to 1586 m above sea level and their areas are between 3.5 to 0.5 ha. Concentrations of the mounded sites are seen in the southern half of the Kohgiluyeh region which has an arid climate. Formation of these settlements in various landscapes indicates that the region has had a high potential to attract human groups of this period. Open sites are located in two mountainous and marginal landscape of the Sour and Maroun Rivers. These sites are sit at 599 to 1036 m above sea level and their areas are between 3.4 to 0.25 ha. It seems that the main factors in formation of these sites were their proximity to mountain and water sources. Two rock shelters and a cave identified from the survey are located in southeastern parts of the region, about 900 m above sea levels. They are opened to the east and their areas are between 6 to 100m2.
Stone artifacts of chert are the most common classes of raw materials recovered from surface of the sites. It seems that, the chert which is often of dark yellow, green, gray, red and dark red color came from of local origin such as the Bakhtiyari Conglomeratic and river pebbles. Generally, in terms of the technological structure, stone tools can be classified into four main groups including core/core fragments, debitage, tools and debris. Cores include numerous single and double platform bullet cores and few flake and mixed cores (bladelet and flake cores and blade and bladelet cores). The debitage is almost exclusively bladelet and flake based.Tools are the main group of stone artifacts and some of them are include bladelet with continuous fine retouch on one and two edge, backed bladelet, bladelet with inverse retouch on both edges, end-scraper and simple burin on a flake.
As mentioned above, 16 sites attributed to the early Holocene period were identified. Of these, 1 site is located in the Dehdasht plain, 5 sites near the Maroun River, 6 sites in mountainous landscape and 4 sites in mouth and inside of the gorges. Generally, settlement and subsistence patterns of these sites are affected by several factors such as plain, river, mountains and gorges. It seems that during this period, the plains have not been under attention enough but the mountainous landscape and margin of the rivers such as Maroun River has had a main role in attracting the human groups.