The Mahidasht Survey Project (1975-78) Revisited: Initial report of new collaborative efforts to catalogue and publish legacy data at the National Museum of Iran

Document Type : Report


1 Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada

2 National Museum of Iran Department of Ceramics / Publication department Tehran, Iran

3 University of Tehran Department of Archaeology Tehran, Iran


Building on the success of the Godin Tepe project in the Kangavar plain, L.D. Levine of the Royal Ontario Museum initiated a survey project in 1975 in the Mahidasht region, consisting of four contiguous plains around the city of Kermanshah. These plains were naturally connected with the Kangavar region via the Great Khorasan Road and formed the western part of this route in the central Zagros Mountains. The Mahidasht Survey Project conducted two full seasons of survey in 1975 and 1978, documenting 944 archaeological sites in ca. 40% of the region, spanning the complete history of human occupation from the late Paleolithic to recent history. As such, this project collected the largest, most detailed archaeological dataset in the Zagros Mountains with the goal to reconstruct the long durée development of its peoples and polities.
Following the Revolution in 1978-79, the fieldwork project came to an end, leaving the data unpublished. While the field documentation was brought to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, the archaeological material remained stored at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. Now, 40 years later, digital technology provides the tools necessary to process this large dataset and to virtually reconnect the archaeological material with the field records. This paper serves as an initial report on a new initiative at the National Museum of Iran to catalogue the Mahidasht archaeological materials in order to allow for comprehensive studies of this important dataset in conjunction with field records from the archive at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.


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