An archaeobotanical study of Ganj Dareh Tepe, Iran


  • W. van Zeist
  • P.E.L. Smith
  • R.M. Palfenier-Vegter
  • M. Suwijn
  • W.A. Casparie


Excavations at Ganj Dareh Tepe, a mound site in the Zagros Mountains of western Iran, have been carried out by P.E.L. Smith. The Early Neolithic occupation covers a span of time between c. 7500 B.C. (or earlier) and c. 6600 B.C. Five principal stratigraphic levels (A to E) are distinguished, the earliest one (level E) without architectural remains. The results of the examination of the floral remains are presented in table 1 (seeds and fruits) and tables 6 and 7 (charcoal).

Palynological evidence for western Iran suggests that a forest-steppe constituted the natural vegetation of the Ganj Dareh area in the early Holocene. This conclusion is supported by the plant remains recovered fromthe site, which include Pistacia (pistachio), Amygdalus (almond), various leguminous genera such as Astragalus and Trigonella, Stipa (feather grass) and other grasses.

The only cereal species at Ganj Dareh is two-rowed hulled barley. Both wild and domestic barley (Hordeum spontaneum and H distichum) could be established. The size class of the lentils, which occur rather frequently, corresponds to that of the wild species. Pistachio must have been an important wild food plant, especially in the lower levels. The role of barley in the economy of the site increased in the course of the habitation.

For construction purposes, especially the timber of poplar and/or willow was used. Other wood types attested for the site are Pistacia, Celtis (hackberry), Prunus-type and Rhamnus (buckthorn). The plant husbandryof Ganj Dareh is compared with that of some other Early Neolithic sites (table 10).