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The Tepe Sialk Ziggurat In Iran

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The Tepe Sialk Ziggurat Of The 

Siyalk Culture

Tepe Sialk Ziggurat
Tepe Sialk Ziggurat

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There are times when I begin to plan our travels based on my interests and the type of history I might find. My writings and research and normally centered around ancient sites and the Tepe Sialk Ziggurat is one of those lesser-known sites due to its location being in Iran. Now one may or may not have difficulty getting there depending on where they are from and the passport they carry. We may not be able to get there today but wanted to shed some light on this location so others may be able to visit even if we cannot today. I recently looked at this site up again and found there to be much more available, and the current anthropologists in Iran to be continuing to write papers on their findings there. I’m going to be adding some additional information here along with photographs of some of the pottery they have found.

The Tepe Sialk ziggurat is found today in present-day Iran, but the area is known to be the earliest culture in Iran, and the Siyalk culture found in the north-central part of that land at Tepe Siyalk near Kashan and Chashmah Ali near Teheran. The Siyalk culture is the earliest known culture of the pre-Halaf cultures of northern Mesopotamia and Syria. It must be mentioned that to the south you had the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia. With these cultures so close together and possibly connected since there are similar construction methods between the two cultures. (Ghirshman 1935)

The area around this site has been dated back to 7500 BC and the temple base structure has been preliminarily dated to around 3000 BC. However, the dating of this structure is not fully accepted due to the additional need for additional data and dating using different methods. The structure of the Tepe Sialk structure or (ziggurat) is very similar to the more recent structures built in southern Mesopotamia. The main difference is that this structure does not use steps and instead uses a ramp that one walks to the top where the temple structure would be for religious ceremonies. (Potts 2009)

The monument’s purpose of the structure is to one serve as a central structure which the people use as a central place of religious activities, and assuming the similarities to other cultures of the region would have also stored excess grain from the area’s surplus. A religious class of people would have taken care of the temple, and there would have been a form of centralized government. We don’t have enough information to assume a king or royal class ruled this early city but there were different types of skilled workers. Evidence of highly developed pottery and the use of mud brick technologies is visible from the earliest excavations.

Archaeological work conducted here is limited but two researchers stand out. Roman Ghirshman excavated the site in the 1930s with a commission from France. His work is currently available in French and I believe some of the most detailed available information on the site before it began to be pillaged. Iranian researcher S. M. Shahmirzadi been studying the site and has proposed to consider this site a ziggurat dating to the Proto-Elamite Layer IV. This date is based on pottery uncovered in the debris around the monument. His work has begun to develop an Iranian team of anthropologists who might also be able to continue work on the site. (Ghirshman 1935; Potts 2009)

The reason I have chosen this site has to do with the following. Anthropology and archaeology are fields for the acquisition of our human past, and I am an individual who picks up on discrepancies quickly and enjoys looking for the additional pieces of the puzzle to better understand areas where there is a lack of understanding our hypothesis that is outdated and needs to be re-looked at. This particular site throws several changes into the timelines of the ziggurat builders and gives us at a minimum across a cultural exchange of ideas almost one thousand years earlier. Unfortunately, the site is also not fully excavated and honestly needs an international team to develop and to help the Iranians fully categorize the tremendous amounts of material and artifacts that would be found if done. I suspect that these peoples were connected to the Sumerians of southern Mesopotamia and they may have to join ancestors or directly connected by lineage. With western civilization a tremendous amount of connections to this area I am hopeful the area will be fully studied one day.



References Cited



Ghirshman, R.

1935  Rapport Préliminaire, Sur Les Fouilles De Tépé Sialk, Près De Kashan (Iran). Syria, vol. 16, no. 3, 1935, pp. 229–246.

McCown, Donald E.

1942 The Material Culture of Early Iran. Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol. 1, no. 4, pp. 424–449.


Potts, Daniel.

2009  Bevel-Rim Bowls and Bakeries: Evidence and Explanations from Iran and the Indo-Iranian Borderlands. Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 61,  pp. 1–23.