Ancient Programme

Ancient Iran and its Neighbours in Pre- and Early-History

The Iranian Plateau is the key geographical link between Western Asia, the South Asian subcontinent, and the various regions of Central Asia.   Throughout pre- and early- history it was an important geographical hub whose populations were deeply involved with the generation and transmission of technological innovations and cultural influences that shaped human history.

From the Palaeolithic onwards, the Iranian Plateau played a key role in major phases of human cultural development, including the expansion of Palaeolithic populations in Asia, the evolution and dispersal of Neolithic practices, and the rise of socio-economic complexity in the highland zone, the development of early cities and states, the coalescence of interregional trade and ultimately the appearance of the first multi-regional, multi-ethnic empires during the Bronze and Iron Ages.

The “Ancient Iran and Its Neighbours in Pre- and Early-History” programme will provide opportunities for scholars to explore the processes of human cultural development, and the communication and interaction dynamics that operated between the populations that lived on the Iranian Plateau and in its associated piedmont and plain zones throughout pre- and early-history. It will also facilitate the investigation of the related dynamics that operated between these populations and those living in the neighbouring regions to the east (Indus plains), west (Mesopotamian plains), north (Central Asian plains and oases) and south (the Persian Gulf and the adjacent areas).

In exploring these themes, the “Ancient Iran and Its Neighbours in Pre- and Early-History” programme will provide an ideal opportunity to support a wide range of library- and field-based research projects investigating human cultural development, communication and interaction dynamics across wide temporal and spatial scales.


For enquiries about this programme, please contact the Programme Director: Cameron Petrie (