GIYAN TEPE (GIĀN TAPPA), or Žiān Tappa, a large archaeological mound located in Lorestān province in western Persia, about 10 km southeast of Nehāvand and southwest of Giān village in the Ḵāva valley. Excavation at Tepe Giyan, directed by George Contenau and Roman Ghirshman under the sponsorship of the Musées Nationaux and the École du Louvre, was carried out for the two seasons of 1931-32. Tepe Giyan, about 350 m long and 19 m high above the surrounding area, reveals five major cultural levels; the lower three levels contain occupational remains while the two topmost levels are occupied by graves. These five levels cover a time span from the middle of the fifth millennium B.C.E. to the beginning of the first millennium B.C.E., with some gaps between the levels.

The deepest level of the mound, Giyan V, which had almost no traces of any substantial architectural remains, produced pottery comparable to Sialk II and III, with Buffware pottery appearing in the latter half of Giyan V and continuing into level IV. Analysis of the Giyan V pottery revealed one sublevel, Giyan V A, in the lower meter of deposit at 18–19 m; a second, Giyan V B, at 14-18m; and a third, Giyan V C, at 10–14 m, with a terminal phase, Giyan V D, at 8-10 m into which had been dug graves of the next level, Giyan IV.

The designs on the earliest pottery, from Giyan V A, can be compared to early Sialk II pottery designs. Giyan V B, which contains houses built of pisé, sometimes on a stone foundation, contains pottery which shows some distinct differences from Giyan V A and certain similarlities to the pottery of Sialk II and perhaps Sialk III up to the third phase. Giyan V C pottery, which can be compared to the pottery of the latter part of the Sialk III period, is in many respects a development of Giyan V B, and many pottery designs are common in both strata.

Giyan V D is a continuation of Giyan V C, with the appearance of some elements of the Ḥeṣār culture close to the end of the Sialk III period, around early 3rd millennium B.C.E., possibly indicating the movement of peoples from the region of Ḥesˊáār culture into the Giyan area. The end of the painted ware of Giyan V falls sometime between the end of Sialk III 6 and the end of Sialk III, or possibly somewhat later.

There is a long gap between the end of Giyan V and the beginning of the Giyan IV level, just preceding or into the Akkadian period, around the second half of the 3rd millennium B.C.E. Giyan III supplements the culture of Giyan IV, and then another gap appears in the tomb sequence between Giyan III and Giyan II with the beginning of Giyan II about the time of the First Dynasty of Babylon, around the early 2nd millennium B.C.E, and its end dated to the 14th century B.C.E. Giyan I shows a transition from Giyan II with its end, dated by architecture near the top of the mound, around the 8th century B.C.E.



D. H. Caldwell, “The Early Glyptic of Gawra, Giyan and Susa and the Development of Long Distance Trade,” Orientalia 45, 1976, pp. 227-50.

Georges Contenau and Roman Ghirshman, “Rapport preliminaire sur les fouilles de Tepe Giyan, près de Nehavend (Perse),” Syria 14, 1933, pp. 1–11.

Idem, Fouilles de Tepe Giyan, près de Nehavend, 1931–32, Paris, 1935.

Robert H. Dyson, Jr., “Problems in the Relative Chronology of Iran, 6000-2000,” in Robert W. Ehrich, ed., Chronologies in Old World Archaeology, Chicago, 1965, pp. 215-56.

Robert Carl Henrickson, “Giyan I and II Reconsidered,” Mesopotamia 18-19, 1983-84, pp. 195-220.

Ernst Herzfeld, Iranische Denkmäler I, Lieferung 3/4, Series 1, Vorgeschichtliche Denkmäler B, Berlin, 1933.

Donald E. McCown, The Comparative Stratigraphy of Early Iran, Chicago, 1942.

Idem, “The Material Culture of Early Iran,” JNES 1/4, 1942, pp. 424-49.

Idem, “The Relative Stratigraphy and Chronology of Iran,” in Robert W. Ehrich, ed., Relative Chronology in Old World Archaeology, Chicago, 1954, pp. 56-68.

(Ezat O. Negahban)

Originally Published: December 15, 2001

Last Updated: February 9, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. XI, Fasc. 6-7