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Title: Methodological aspects of Iranian archaeology, past and present
Author: Niknami, Kamal Aldin
ISNI:       0000 0000 2215 8416
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 1999
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This dissertation is the first overview of the history and present state of archaeology in Iran. Its aim is to consider the relevance of recent developments in Western archaeology, and their relevance to a Near Eastern Islamic State. The Palaeolithic of Iran is taken as a case study. The first concern of chapters (1) and (2), in this thesis is to evaluate the distinctively national characteristics of archaeology in Iran. Specifically the chapters consider the development of archaeology in Iran in the 1960s and 1970s in relation to the `New Archaeology' in the USA. It is clear that these external influences had only a minimal impact on archaeology in Iran; the `New Archaeology' which first developed in American circles more than thirty years ago, made a somewhat belated impact on Iranian archaeology in the seventies. Not all of its agenda has been adopted, and because it was pioneered by anthropologists on relatively recent and simple New World sites, it is not totally applicable to the long historical sequence of complex Iranian mounds. I argue that Iranian archaeology was simply left behind, "out of date" and generally atheoretical. I also stress that its traditional authority structure prevented discussion of new ideas. Chapter (3), emphasises that, despite a wide range of archaeological work in Iran, the blanks on the archaeological maps are far greater in extent than the small regions that have to some extent been filled in. On the other hand the unparalleled expansion of archaeology particularly the complexity and costs of fieldwork, will force us to determine priorities much more clearly. Thus in the future we will probably see fewer of the enormous ten-year excavations at Tell- sites such as characterised the 1960s and 1970s. We have to move to smaller projects deliberately designed to answer specific problems (i. e., excavation at one period sites; surface survey, and regional studies). Because the concept of surface surveying as a reliable method of data recovery has not been introduced into the archaeology of Iran, and archaeologists there are still not familiar with its methods and techniques, this chapter aims to emphasise the importance and productivity of this strategy and provides a general model of archaeological survey methodology for the future. The present thesis goes radically beyond the traditional cultural-historical paradigms of Iranian research orientation, and suggests, for instance that the study of Palaeolithic Archaeology (in new perspectives) is a fundamental period of human cultural progress, but one that has long been completely neglected in Iranian archaeology. The current issues of Palaeolithic Archaeology, the importance of environmental data, and the range of our understanding of Iranian Palaeolithic Archaeology are the subjects of Chapters (4) and (5). The political and ideological problems of the archaeology of Iran are discussed in chapter (6) where I argue that the concept of Archaeological Heritage Management is a matter of top priority for Iranian archaeology. This chapter discusses major disasters in Iranian cultural heritage (i. e., looting of sites due to a lack of legal protection, an adequate management system, as well as economic and social problems). I conclude in this thesis that there are major challenges for archaeology in Iran in the future; the older generation is almost gone, the new generation coming to the fore must face many tasks, among them the transition from a monolithic national school to a more subtle, many-sided approach to archaeological problems. It must salvage what it can of sites rapidly being destroyed by various factors. At the same time we will have to challenge the political and ideological constraints affecting archaeology in society. The new generation must envision a master-plan for the future archaeological development in this region, where economic development and prosperity still allows good opportunities and support for systematic archaeological research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: JISC Digital Islam
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available