Geoarchaeology and the value of multidisciplinary palaeoenvironmental approaches: a case study from the Tehran Plain, Iran
G. K. Gillmore, T. Stevens, J. P. Buylaert, R. A. E. Coningham, C. Batt, H. Fazeli, R. Young, M. Maghsoudi, 2011. "Geoarchaeology and the value of multidisciplinary palaeoenvironmental approaches: a case study from the Tehran Plain, Iran", Human Interactions with the Geosphere: The Geoarchaeological Perspective, L. Wilson
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Tepe Pardis, a significant Neolithic–Chalcolithic site on the Tehran Plain in Iran, is, like many sites in the area, under threat from development. The site contains detailed evidence of (1) the Neolithic–Chalcolithic transition, (2) an Iron Age cemetery and (3) how the inhabitants adapted to an unstable fan environment through resource exploitation (of clay deposits for relatively large-scale ceramic production by c. 5000 BC, and importantly, possible cutting of artificial water channels). Given this significance, models have been produced to better understand settlement distribution and change in the region. However, these models must be tied into a greater understanding of the impact of the geosphere on human development over this period. Forming part of a larger project focusing on the transformation of simple, egalitarian Neolithic communities into more hierarchical Chalcolithic ones, the site has become the focus of a multidisciplinary project to address this issue. Through the combined use of sedimentary and limited pollen analysis, radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence dating (the application of the last still rare in Iran), a greater understanding of the impact of alluvial fan development on human settlement through alluviation and the development of river channel sequences is possible. Notably, the findings presented here suggest that artificial irrigation was occurring at the site as early as 6.7±0.4 ka (4300–5100 BC).
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Human impact on our environment is not a new phenomenon. For millennia, humans have been coping with – or provoking – environmental change. We have exploited, extracted, over-used, but also in many cases nurtured, the resources that the geosphere offers. Geoarchaeology studies the traces of human interactions with the geosphere and provides the key to recognizing landscape and environmental change, human impacts and the effects of environmental change on human societies. This collection of papers from around the world includes case studies and broader reviews covering the time period since before modern human beings came into existence up until the present day. To understand ourselves, we need to understand that our world is constantly changing, and that change is dynamic and complex. Geoarchaeology provides an inclusive and long-term view of human–geosphere interactions and serves as a valuable aid to those who try to determine sustainable policies for the future.