image/svg+xml117XIII/2/2022INTERDISCIPLINARIA ARCHAEOLOGICANATURAL SCIENCES IN ARCHAEOLOGYhomepage: http://www.iansa.euBeyond a Decoration; Mineralogical and Micro-structural Study of the Early Bronze Age “Life Cycle Jar” from Keshik Cemetery, Sistan and Balouchistan, IranYasin Sedghi1, Farahangiz Sabouhi Sani2, Nasir Eskandari3, Mohammadamin Emami4,5*1Department of Conservation, Cultural Institute of Bonyad Museum, Resalat Highway, P.O. Box : 1519611197, Tehran, Iran2Department of Conservation of Cultural Properties and Archaeometry, Art University of Isfahan, Hakim-Nezami St., P. O. Box: 1744, Isfahan, Iran3Department of Archaeology, University of Tehran, Enghelab Square, 16 Azar St., P. O. Box: 661914155, Tehran, Iran4Department of Conservation of Cultural Properties and Archaeometry, Art University of Isfahan, Hakim-Nezami St., P. O. Box: 1744, Isfahan, Iran5Institut de Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux-Centre de Recherche en Physique Appliquée à l’Archéologie (IRAMAT-CRP2A), Université Bordeaux Montaigne, University area, F-33607 PESSAC Cedex, France1. IntroductionThe construction of a reliable archaeological framework for the development of the prehistoric cultures of the Iranian Baluchistan is still an ongoing efort, following the famous survey of A. Stein in the 1930s (Lamberg-Karlovsky and Besserat, 1977; De Cardi, 1966; De Cardi, 1968; Mutin et al., 2017; Sajjadi and Casanova, 2006; Stein, 1937).This paper deals with a collection of ceramics recovered from the plundered cemetery of Keshik, in the Makran region of the Indo-Iranian Borderlands. The collection includes two typical ceramic groups. The frst group includes a high-quality, painted grey ware present in the Indo-Iranian Borderlands during late 4thmillennium and early 3rdmillennium BC (Mutin, 2013). This ceramic is labelled as Emir Grey Ware, and has been reported at sites located hundreds of kilometres apart: such as Shahi-Tump and Miri Qalat in Southwestern Pakistan, Tepe Yahya, Konar Sandal and Varamin in Kerman, Shahr-i Sokhta and Mundigak in Sistan (both Iran and Afghanistan), and at many sites in the Iranian Baluchistan such as Tepe Bampur and Khurab. The production, chemical composition, and distribution of this ceramic has been the subject of many publications (Wright, 1984; Mutin et al., 2016). The second group of ceramics includes painted buf/red wares which can be associated with the newly-defned ceramic culture Volume XIII ● Issue 2/2022 ● Pages 117–128*Corresponding author. E-mail: INFOArticle history:Received: 26thJanuary 2022Accepted: 20thJune 2022DOI: words:Iranian PlateauAncient potteryLife Cycle JarPetrographyXRPDSEM-EDXKeshik cemeteryBronze AgeABSTRACTThe present study focuses on a unique pottery vessel, the so-called “Life Cycle Jar”, and nine other potsherds which were discovered in the Keshik cemetery, Baluchistan, south-east Iran. Samples were investigated through classical analytical methods such as thin-section petrography, X-ray powder difraction (XRPD), and scanning electron microscopy coupled with energy dispersive X-ray fuorescence (SEM-EDX) to determine the production techniques, fabric characterisation, as well as the pigments applied to decorate the surface of the Life Cycle Jar. Mineralogical and chemical investigations revealed that the pottery pieces were similar in raw materials, and produced locally. Samples show a wheel-thrown signature based on the defnite orientation of pores and structural character in their thin sections. The potter pieces were fred under oxidation processes demonstrated by the red and green colour of the matrix. The investigated pottery samples were defned as high-fred sherds (ca. 800–950°C), due to the presence of inclusions in the form of reacted calcite in rhombohedra crystal structure, and hematite within the matrix of the pottery. The microstructural characteristics of the pottery pieces showed that the manufacturing temperature was no higher than 950 °C, by pre-sintering texture. The investigations on the painted decoration on the Life Cycle Jar suggested that iron oxide and manganese oxide was used as the colourant agent in the decoration.
image/svg+xmlIANSA 2022 ● XIII/2 ● 117–128Yasin Sedghi, Farahangiz Sabouhi Sani, Nasir Eskandari, Mohammadamin Emami: Beyond a Decoration; Mineralogical and Micro-structural Study of the Early Bronze Age “Life Cycle Jar” from Keshik Cemetery, Sistan and Balouchistan, Iran118of the Halilrud basin, ca. 3000 BC, the so-called “Varamin Culture”. The masterpiece Life Cycle Jar (LCJ) falls in the latter group. Thanks to the discovery of Keshik, Nikshahr is the most Eastern infuential extension of the Varamin ceramic tradition. They were already recorded at sites across the Halilrud basin such as Varamin in the Jiroft plain, and Tepe Yahya in the Soghan valley (Eskandari et al., 2020; Eskandari et al., 2021a; Eskandari et al., 2021b).South Makran is an important archaeological zone, where more archaeological studies have been undertaken in its periphery, and excavations are still going ahead (Lorentz et al., 2020). The site is located in the southeaster part of Hamun Basin and Jaz Murian, the East-West connective highway in southern Iran (Figure 1). Stein (1937) described the Keshik territory in his survey from Ghasr-e Ghand to Nikshahr; however; the Keshik cemetery was not discussed in detail. The cemetery of Keshik will be discussed in the broader archaeological context of Indo-Iranian Borderlands in order to visualise the cross-regional interactions during the late 4th-early 3rdmillennium BC (Stein, 1937). Based on recent studies, this type of pottery was demonstrated as the earliest dark-grey pottery, which had been obviously an essential type during the Early Bronze Age in the south east of Iran (Mutin, 2013; Mutin and Lamberg-Karlovsky, 2013). This study will also focus on the characterisation and the fabrication of the Life Cycle Jar amongst other pieces. This pottery has been classifed as a typical fabrication of Jiroft, showing that the production of the vessels was very cautiously followed with much attention to elaborate decoration (Eskandari et al.,2021a).This paper will also explore the ceramic collection of the Keshik cemetery by using mineralogical and micro-structural analyses such as thin-section petrography, XRPD (X-ray powder difraction) and SEM-EDX (Scanning electron microscopy with coupled energy dispersive X-ray fuorescence).2. Context of Recovery2.1 Keshik cemeteryThe prehistoric Keshik cemetery is located 8 km northeast of Nikshahr, 2 km southwest of the village of Keshik, and northeast of the Keshik River Basin and its dam (Kheir-Abad Dam) (Figure 2). In 2012, the site was uncovered during the construction of a water canal. Later, Heydari et al. (2015) discovered a large Bronze Age cemetery during subsequent excavations at Keshik. The ceramics used in this study were obtained from the surface of the cemetery’s plundered graves. Though the exact context of the ceramics is unclear, due to the nature of the site and the context of the recovery, it is evident that they served as burial goods. Haidari’s excavation at this site was able to document 26 graves, which appeared to be of a catacomb type that were architecturally the same but varied in size. Lengths varied between 180 and 420 cm, with the width approximately 120 cm, and the heights between 110 and 130 cm. It seems that this cemetery has accommodated graves from later periods.The cemetery is chronologically considered as a newly-discovered ancient site that enables the cultural exchange that occurred in south east of Iran to be described (Eskandari et al., 2020). Based on the recovered burial fnds, particularly those forming the focus of the current research, this cemetery dates back to the late 4th- early 3rdmillennium BC (3300–2900 BC). This dating is supported by new radiocarbon dates from the site of Varamin in the Jiroft plain (Eskandari et al., 2021). During the Proto-Elamite level of Tepe Yahya (Yahya IVC), Varamin period ceramics are comparable with the painted buf/red wares of Keshik. In addition, the fne painted grey wares of Keshik cemetery (Emir Grey wares – recently named Late Shahi Tump) are already contextualised in many sites in Kech-Makran – such as Shahi Tump IIIA (Mutin, 2016), Shahr-i Sokhta period I in Sistan, Tepe Yahya IVC (Mutin, 2013) and Varamin (Eskandari et al., 2020) in