Iran Archeology and Music

By | January 12, 2022


In the protohistoric era, the cultural features of this territory became more marked, determining individual specificities corresponding to the different regions. This condition makes the prospect of a unitary reading rather weak, despite the great political formations born on Iranian soil. This is how the individual regional cultures are considered, including those of some Central Asian areas (now included in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan or Turkmenistan) which at certain historical moments were politically aggregated to the Iranian plateau.

According to localcollegeexplorer, in the late Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlements of the central plateau (Tepe Siyalk, Zagheh, Tepe Ghabrestan, Chashma-i Ali, Tepe Hissar, Sang-i Chakhmaq, Morteza Gerd, Shir-i Zhian) developed a series of closely related cultures between them. From the finds of this period two types of local pottery can be identified: the Zagheh Ware and the Plum Ware. With regard to the Indo-Iranian border area (Baluchistan), it was possible to highlight a substantially local and autonomous character of protohistoric cultures and civilizations.

In the Early Bronze Age (2900-2400 BC) the Iran western and the Zagros region were strongly affected by the collapse of the state entities with consequent strong demographic decline and modest ceramic production. The central-eastern plateau was instead the site of intense urbanization processes and the development of agriculture, livestock and crafts (Tepe Hassar, Shah Tepe, all-i Iblis, Tepe Yahya, Mundigak, Shahr-i Sokha). With the Middle Bronze Age (2400-2000 BC), in the regions of central-southern Asia, connected by unprecedented processes of economic integration, far-reaching innovations and transformations are observed (eg, proto-industrial ceramic production). In the Kerman region, the rich grave goods of Shahdad’s tombs testify to the prosperity of this center. The affirmation of rich and powerful archaic states is also reflected by the emergence in some centers of imposing terracotta terraced structures, in dominant positions over urban centers (Susa, Turang Tepe, Tepe Siyalk, Mundigak). The treasure of Asterabad (Turang Tepe) and that of Fullol (Afghanistan) testify to the wealth and love of luxury of the upper classes. In the central-eastern regions the Late Bronze Age period (2000-1500 BC) coincided with a generalized and dramatic urban and demographic crisis. In the western areas, the proto-urban communities experienced a phase of prosperity (Anshan). Perhaps in the 18th century. Some monumental rock reliefs carved in Fars (Kurangun, Naqsh-i Rustam) and in the plain of Izeh date back to BC. ‚óŹ The Iron Age (1350-300 BC) represents one of the most controversial and complex periods in the history of Iran ancient, but at the same time with it we are witnessing an important cultural acceleration. The cultural diversity of the various areas is accentuated. Rich evidence of material culture comes from necropolis (Marlik, Khurvin, Kalar Dash, Amarlu, Arzan) and from the long chronological sequence of the Hasanlu citadel.

Among the Achaemenid dynasts (6th-4th century BC), Darius gave particular impetus to building activity in the historic centers of Susa and Babylon and, above all, in the foundation of Persepolis, where Achaemenid architecture found definitive affirmation in the complexes palatial. Here, the space expanded into a single central square hypostyle hall with minor lateral compartments and the colonnaded portico with two rows of columns, recall the plans of the pharaonic palaces of Memphis and Medinet Habu, and integrate with elements of the cultures of the Iran northern (palace of Hasanlu, Tepe Nush-i Jan and Godin Tepe). The palaces presented a rich painted decoration; among the one that has reached us from Susa there is a procession of royal guards rendered with a lively polychromy of the robes and an analytical description of the details. The production of ivories and cylindrical seals is very widespread, the latter characterized by a limited and repetitive repertoire (winged sphinxes, crouching goats with long horns).


In ancient Per both music played a role of great importance both in sacred rites and in civil and military ceremonies. The courts of Iranian kings favored singing and music expressed with instruments such as harp (chang), pandora (tanbur), lutes (barbat, rubab), flutes (ruyin nay), horns and trumpets (karranay, shaipur), the drums (kus) etc. However, there is no precise information on the musical theory of Iran, due to the inexistence of specific treatises. Famous musicians in the period of greatest splendor of the Sassanid dynasty (3rd-4th century) were Barbad di Fars, Angisiyya and Al-Nadr (d. 624); famous were also the singers-harpists Azada and Shirin. Through the important center of al-Hira, capital of the Lakhmids, Iranian music penetrated Arab countries and conditioned the subsequent development of Islamic music. The first musician of Islam was Tuwais (d. 710), an expert imitator of Iranian melodies. Later the national characters of Iranian music merged with the Arab ones and it remained a unique Islamic style, still adopted today.

Iran Music