A revised radiocarbon chronology of Ganj Dareh

Joe Roe

Paper presented at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Canadian Archaeological Association, 'Ganj Dareh Then and Now: Integrating Past and Current Research', 2021.


The absolute chronology of Ganj Dareh is known from some 41 previously published radiocarbon dates, including those on Smith’s original samples of bulk carbon and charcoal (Hole 1987), goat bone collagen (Zeder & Hesse 2000) and human skeletal remains (Meiklejohn et al. 2017). Here I present a further 59 dates from the renewed Copenhagen–Razi excavations, sampled from securely-identified charcoal and charred seeds and processed at the Aarhus AMS Centre. This expanded sample, together with the clarified stratigraphy revealed by the reexcavation, allows for the construction of the first robust Bayesian chronological model of the site. The results confirm that Ganj Dareh was occupied for a relatively short period between 10,200 and 9450 cal BP, though with slightly longer duration (580–750 years) than previously estimated. The Bayesian model also tightly constrains the site’s internal chronology, opening the way for fresh insights into the evolution of animal and human lifeways over this critical period in the emergence of agriculture.


  • Hole, Frank. 1987. “Chronologies in the Iranian Neolithic.” In Chronologies Du Proche Orient: Relative Chronologies and Absolute Chronology, 16000–4000 B.C., edited by Olivier Aurenche, Jacques Evin, and Francis Hours, pp. 353–79. BAR International Series S379. Archaeopress: Oxford.
  • Meiklejohn, Christopher, Deborah C Merrett, David Reich, and Ron Pinhasi. 2017. “Direct Dating of Human Skeletal Material from Ganj Dareh, Early Neolithic of the Iranian Zagros.” Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 12 (April): 165–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2017.01.036.
  • Zeder, M A, and B Hesse. 2000. “The Initial Domestication of Goats (Capra hircus) in the Zagros Mountains 10,000 Years Ago.” Science 287 (5461): 2254–57.