Dinkha Tepe revisited: A critical evaluation and stratigraphic analysis of the Hasanlu Project excavations

Gabriel H Pizzorno, University of Pennsylvania


Dinkha Tepe is a major archaeological site situated on the banks of the Gadar river, in the Ushnu plain of northwestern Iran. The site possesses a long occupation sequence spanning from the second millennium BCE to the present, and was the subject of systematic excavations by the Hasanlu Project in the late 196os. Whilst Dinkha Tepe has figured prominently in some of the most important debates in Iranian archaeology, chiefly amongst them the ostensibly radical cultural transformation that marks the transition from "Bronze Age" to "Iron Age", the data resulting from the excavations have only been analysed in piecemeal fashion and the bulk of the material has never been published. Previous publications of the Dinkha materials have been few and very narrowly focused, both thematically and in terms of the amount of data made available. This thesis presents, for the first time, a holistic evaluation of the site and its excavated evidence, centred around a comprehensive stratigraphic analysis of all the available data from Dinkha Tepe. In the process, it has demonstrated that the original work at the site and the conclusions subsequently drawn from it were built on questionable theoretical and methodological foundations. With this analysis as a reliable basis for broader interpretations of the material, a new archaeological sequence of six periods is defined and articulated, and some new tantalising discoveries made possible. It seems clear that the magnitude and importance of Dinkha Tepe in the history of the region has never been adequately appreciated or articulated. New is the revelation that during the early second millennium BCE Dinkha was a major centre, perhaps even the capital, of some previously unsuspected polity centred on the Ushnu plain. A historical identification with the city of Kunšum, the capital of the Turukkean kingdom of Itabalhum, is volunteered. Furthermore, the evidence from Dinkha suggests that the aforementioned radical discontinuity in the material culture was established on the basis of a huge oversimplification of the stratigraphic sequence compounded by the poor definition of ceramic "wares", which led to the failure to identify a continuing process of graded change. ^

Subject Area

Anthropology, Archaeology

Recommended Citation

Pizzorno, Gabriel H, "Dinkha Tepe revisited: A critical evaluation and stratigraphic analysis of the Hasanlu Project excavations" (2011). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3475898.