GEOY TEPE, a rich archeological site located in western Azarbaijan about 7 km south of the town of Urmia (Reżāʾīya) plain made known through the aerial survey of ancient sites in Persia carried out by Erich F. Schmidt in the 1930s. With the publication of Schmidt’s pioneer work it was clear that careful investigation of one of these mounds on the Urmia plain was desirable to obtain a chronology of archeological levels for this part of the ancient world in which little scientific excavation had previously been conducted. In 1948 permission to excavate Geoy Tepe was granted by the Persian authorities to T. Burton Brown of Great Britain and work was begun in August of that year.

Geoy Tepe is about 500 yards across north to south, 600 yards across east to west and 80 feet high above a natural spring located at the southwestern corner of the mound. Since much of the surface of the site was covered by residential buildings and by graves, the excavated areas of the mound were not connected, but rather consisted of eight scattered pits. After a comparative analysis of the material found in various levels in these eight pits, including pottery, stone implements and bronze and iron objects, the excavator suggested a classification into alphabetic periods, from the earliest, Period N, up to the most recent, Period A.

Pit I, the chief pit, located at the northwestern corner of the mound, was dug to a depth of -550 inches from the datum point at the topmost part of the mound. Traces of Period N, the earliest period at the mound, found at the bottom of Pit I, belong to the middle of the fourth millennium B.C.E. Above this was material from Period M, which belonged to the second half of the fourth millennium B.C.E., and above Period M, material from Period K, which seems to belong to about 3000 B.C.E. or early Bronze Age. Above the K remains was material from Period G, remains of which were also found at the bottom of Pitts III and IV. These Period G remains possibly date to the later part of the third millennium B.C.E. Period D remains were found in Pits III and IV. They are comparable to remains of Susa II and Tepe Giyan IV and date to the latest part of the third millennium B.C.E. Above the remains of Period D in Pits III and IV are remains of Period C which date to the end of the third to early second millennium B.C.E. Remains of Period B, found in Pits I, II and IV, can be dated around the middle of the second millennium B.C.E. Remains of Period A, mostly pottery sherds, were found in every pit excavated. Apparently there was a stratum of Period A over the whole of Geoy Tepe. This pottery of Period A can be dated to the end of the Bronze and the beginning of the Iron Age. Thus, the mound had continuous occupation up to Period A around 1200 B.C.E.



T. Burton Brown, Excavations in Azarbaijan, 1948, London, 1951.

R. H. Crawford, “Geoy Tepe 1903: Material in the Collection of the Fitswilliam Museum, Cambridge,” Iranica Antiqua 11, 1975, pp. 1-28.

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

D. 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 R. W. Ehrich, ed., Relative Chronology in Old World Archaeology, Chicago, 1954, pp. 56–68. A.

G. Sagona, “Geoy Tepe,” in The Caucasian Region in the Early Bronze Age, Oxford, 1984, pp. 60-61.

(Ezat O. Negahban)

Originally Published: December 15, 2001

Last Updated: February 7, 2012

This article is available in print.
Vol. X, Fasc. 5, pp. 497-498