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Oriental Institute Publications (OIP)

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OIP 105.

Prehistoric Archeology Along the Zagros Flanks.

L. S. Braidwood, R. J. Braidwood, B. Howe, C. A. Reed, and P. J. Watson, eds.

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The sequence of human development from remote prehistory to the modern period can be separated into several major levels of increasing complexity of society and technology. The circumstances and processes surrounding the transitions between these levels have been a focus of attention of “problem-oriented” archaeologists for almost 40 years. Probably no individual in archaeology has been more influential in stimulating interest in this direction than Robert J. Braidwood, who set out with his wife Linda in the spring of 1948 to explore the field evidence for the transition from hunter-gatherer way of life to sedentary food production in the region surrounding the Mesopotamian Plain. This initial work started many archaeologists thinking about how the processes that lay behind this fundamental change, and ultimately other transitions, could be documented archaeologically. His pioneering effort to introduce specialists from the geological and biological sciences into work on relevant problems in this transition brought about a new set of standards for fieldwork in the Near East and a new appreciation of the richness of the multidimensional archaeological record that can result from these studies.

The volume under review here is the final report on the Braidwoods’ initial phase of exploration from 1948 to 1955 in the Chemchemal Valley and adjacent regions of Iraqi Kurdistan. In this sense it is a work that can be viewed as the result of a study begun at a transition within archaeology itself, from the goals and techniques of the period between the wars to the methods and purposes that characterize the discipline at present. Approximately half the volume is devoted to reports on the architecture and artifacts recovered during three seasons of work at Jarmo, the first early village site with aceramic levels excavated in the Near East. Substantial sections are also devoted to reports on the earlier aceramic site of Karim Shahir and the later (Halafian) site of Banahilk. The chapter on Karim Shahir by Bruce Howe is most relevant to problems relating to the earliest periods of sedentary life in the Zagros region. While the major emphasis is on a description of the stone artifacts, the nature of the site and the excavation are also well treated. The comparative section at the end of the chapter is a particularly valuable summary of information relevant to the placing of the site within the broader context of contemporary settlements in the Zagros-Mesopotamian region.

This is a massive database that will be available for comparative consultation far into the future; it has a well-deserved place in every archaeological reference library and in the personal libraries of specialists in this period of Near Eastern prehistory. [From a review by Arthur J. Jelinek in the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 265 (1987) 87-88].

  • Oriental Institute Publications 105
  • Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 1983
  • ISBN 0-918986-36-2
  • Pp. ix + 695, 5 charts, 244 figures, 185 tables
  • Clothbound 9 x 11.75 in / 23 x 30 cm
  • $130.00
Contributors and Contributions:
L. S. Braidwood, R. J. Braidwood, and B. Howe. “Introduction”
B. Howe. “Karim Shahir”
R. J. Braidwood. “The Site of Jarmo and Its Architectural Remains”
R. McC. Adams. “The Jarmo Stone and Pottery Vessel Industries”
F. Hole. “The Jarmo Chipped Stone with Appendix: Additional Remarks on the Jarmo Obsidian (L. S. Braidwood)”
H. Moholy-Nagy. “Jarmo Artifacts of Pecked and Ground Stone and of Shell”
P. J. Watson. “Jarmo Worked Bone”
V. B. Morales. “Jarmo Figurines and Other Clay Objects with Appendix: Notes on the Textile and Basketry Impressions from Jarmo (J. M. Adovasio)”
R. J. Braidwood. “The Jarmo Dead”
H. R. Stampfli. “The Fauna of Jarmo, With Notes on Animal Bones from Matarrah, the ‘Amuq, and Karim Shahir”
B. Lawrence and C. A. Reed. “The Dogs of Jarmo”
P. F. Turnbull. “Birds and Small Mammals from Jarmo”
P. J. Watson. “A Note on the Jarmo Plant Remains”
H. E. Wright, Jr. “Climatic Change in the Zagros Mountains - Revisited”
C. A. Reed. “Archeozoological Studies in the Near East: A Short History (1960-1980)”
R. J. Braidwood. “Jarmo Chronology”
R. J. Braidwood. “Miscellaneous Analyses of Materials from Jarmo”
P. J. Watson. “The Soundings at Banahilk”
F. R. Matson. “The Banahilk Potter”
J. P. Laffer. “The Faunal Remains from Banahilk”
J. R. Caldwell. “The Pottery from the Soundings at Gird Ali Agha and al-Khan with Appendix: The Nonceramic Yield from Ali Agha and al-Khan (Editors)”
M. Dittemore. “The Soundings at M’lefaat”
P. F. Turnbull. “The Faunal Remains from M’lefaat”

Revised: October 8, 2013

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