Urgeschichte und Naturwissenschaftliche Archäologie

Tübingen-Iranian Stone Age Research Project (TISARP)

Prof. Nicholas J. Conard, Dr. Saman Heydari-Guran

The Tübingen-Iranian Stone Age Research Project (TISARP) was established in Summer 2004. Until now the team conducted several research projects in different parts of Iran including Central Plateau and Southern Zagros Mountains.

The TISARP project tries to achieve to the following goals:

  1. Paleolithic landscape of Iran, a geoecological approach for hunter-gatherer settlement system, and predictive models.
  2. Determining the sequence and cultural affinities during Lower and Middle Paleolithic in Iran.
  3. Late Paleolithic occupations and cultural traditions in southwestern Zagros Mountains Iran and Central Plateau.
  4. Neolithization and spread of agriculture in the Zagros Mountains of Iran; new researches in the Kazerun and Marvdasht, Fars Province; southwestern Iran.

Central Plateau

The focus of the TISARP team in Central Plateau was on three regions of Zavyeh, Holabad and Qaleh Gusheh.



South of the village of Zavyeh in Zarand Basin, 80km southwest of Tehran, a semi-consolidated mudstones formed under semi-arid conditions in an ancient shallow lake system. In some areas of the Zavyeh palustrian systems, as much as 20m of sediments have been exposed by tectonic uplift. The lithic artifacts from Zavyeh offer potential for dating the deposits at Zavyeh and are important for helping to reconstruct the settlement history of this part of central Iran.



This travertine site of Holabad contains material from all periods beginning with the Middle Paleolithic. The artifacts were made from a wide range of volcanic materials that have their origin in the Latif Mountains to the northeast.


Dasht-e Rostam

The Dasht-e Rostam (Rostam Plain) with elevations between 850-790 meters a.s.l. is located in the northwestern part of the Fars Province, and is bounded on all sides by limestone mountains that rise as much as 700 meters above the plain. This basin is divided into eastern and western plains, which are connected with the Yagheh Sangar pass. During 4 seasons of Dasht-e Rostam, TISARP team located 121 sites mainly caves and rockshelters presenting Lower to the Late Paleolithic periods.


Ghar-e Boof

Ghar-e Boof is a small cave located in the Yagheh Sangar. The cave has an area of about 100 m² and opens toward the north.

In 2006 TISARP team conducted test excavations to a depth of about 1.5 meters below the modern surface. After penetrating a meter of Holocene deposits of stratified ashy silt, excavators working in the front and rear of the cave reached rich find horizons containing lithic, faunal and botanical remains in light, yellow-brown silt. This stratigraphic unit warranted further study. Thus in 2007, the team continued fieldwork with plans to excavate a larger area and to test how deep the deposits at Ghar-e Boof extended downward before striking bedrock in order to gain a cultural and chronostratigraphic sequence that would help us analyze the survey materials from the southwestern Zagros and that would allow to reconstruct past settlement dynamics and economic systems in the Dasht-e Rostam. The recent radiocarbon analysis has dated the site back to 36030+390/-370 BP.

In all, 37,676 lithic artifacts with large amount of fauna and flora remains have been unearthed from the Ghar-e Boof Cave which are under analysis.

TISARP team plans to continue the excavation in future seasons.

Members of the team

Nicholas J. Conard

Saman Heydari-Guran
Elham Ghasidian
Mohsen Zeidi
Rahmat Naderi


With the cooperation of Alireza Fetrat, Cirous Barfi, Mahdi Danaei, Ali Ghasidian, Naser Heydari and Shirin Namazi.