On the Possible Correlation between the Collapse of Sialk IV and Climatological Events during the Middle–Late Holocene

Document Type: Research Paper


1 History and Archaeology, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University of Tehran

2 Iranian center of archaeological research department of cultural and historical material studies

3 Advisor Professor, Assistant Professor, Department of Archeology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.


Prehistoric archaeological sites in the center of the Iranian Plateau suddenly disappeared around the end of the 4th millennium BCE. At Tepe Sialk, near Kashan, the last cultural period, namely Sialk IV - probably established around 3400 BCE after the last settlements of Sialk III6-7b - was abandoned approximately after 500 years. The material culture of this period, known as Proto-Elamite period, is very different from the previous one, showing similarities with Susa III. This period belongs to the same horizon of Uruk III in Mesopotamia and similar evidences were discovered also at sites such as Sofalin, Shoghali, Pardis, Chaltasian, Meymanat Abad, Gholi Darvish, Maral Tepe (Uzbeki), Ghabristan, Arisman and Hissar. With the abandonment of Sialk IV, cultures affected by Uruk in Near East were simultaneously abandoned. This trend of abandonment documented in the center of the Iranian Plateau continued for about 500-1500 years. Palaeo-climatological studies show that this period coincides with a cold and dry period dated approximately between 3200 and 2700 BCE. Apparently, these climate fluctuations threatened life more at the center of the Iranian Plateau than in Mesopotamia and Khuzestan, by virtue of the presence of overflowing and permanent rivers in these territories (Euphrates and Tigris above all), probably forcing the migration of people from the center of the Iranian plateau to more favourable areas. The present comparative study suggests that climate changes were the main reason for the cultural collapse attested in the region.