The so-called Kura-Araxes societies were one of the early "immigrant communities" and of the longest-lived and widely distributed archaeological cultures, having spread during the late 4th millennium BC (Early Bronze Age), from South Caucasia across the Taurus and Zagros mountains, down to the southern Levant. They probably originated in an area between the Kura and Araxes rivers, in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Among the host areas, Iran has been neglected in many main inquiries, and despite scattered studies since 1945, we have just a nodding acquaintance with Kura-Araxes of this part, only based on individual case studies, and there is no comprehensive knowledge. One of the reasons of this shortcoming, left in the fact that the remains of this tradition are mostly located in the highland areas that have been assumed as insignificant periphery areas, exclusively the northwest of Iran, which even suffers from a precise chronology and solid perspective of the cultural dynamics.

Considering these issues, the present project will focus on the Kura-Araxes cultural tradition as a case study for ‘highland society’, to elucidate their role in the formation of cultural, social, and economic dynamics of the 6th to the 3rd millennium in northwestern Iran and study their resilience strategies in the diaspora. I argue that within the 6th to the 3rd millennium BC, northwestern Iran went through different heterogeneous socio-economic structures and cultural process. This hypothesis needs to be explored comprehensively, which is one of the goals of this project.

This project based on the interdisciplinary approaches will elucidate the resilience efforts of Kura-Araxian, and their adaption and management strategies to make the Iranian highland their home. It will deduce models from the archaeological data, which can be transferred onto projects, which focus on migration as a phenomenon in general. An additional goal in the frame of this project is the excavation of Tappeh Balu (Fig 1), an important archaeological site in the northwestern Iran with gradual sequence from Neolithic to the Iron Age.

Fig. 1 - Tappeh Balu (view from northeast)