Dinkha Tepe

Local workers excavating in Area 3 at Dinkha Tepe, Iran in 1968.

Dinkha Tepe is an archaeological site situated in northwestern Iran, and the subject of a monograph that I am in the process of finalizing. The site was excavated by the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s and has figured prominently in some of the most important debates in Iranian archaeology. Despite this, the data resulting from the excavations had previously only been analyzed in piecemeal fashion and the bulk of the material has never been published. 

Interpreting the results of past excavations at Dinkha was a significant undertaking. The archived records constituting the raw dataset are a sizeable and daunting corpus of problematic material. In order to address these issues, I created a complex digitization program and a sophisticated custom database in order to systematize the dataset, resolve its inconsistencies, and bring the records to a point where they could bear fruitful archaeological enquiry, analysis, and interpretation at a site-wide scale. As a result of this process, I was able to observe new data associations and insights in the material, and, for the first time, a holistic evaluation of the site and its excavated evidence became possible. 

Thanks to this, I was able to trace the long-term history of the site from the second millennium BCE to the present, and challenge long-held notions about the site itself and about our understanding of the history of the region. The magnitude and importance of Dinkha Tepe in the history of the region has not been adequately appreciated or articulated before. This is particularly true during the early second millennium BCE, when Dinkha was a major centre, likely the capital, of a previously unsuspected polity. In my research I have pieced together compelling evidence for a historical identification with the city of Kunšum, the capital of the Turukkean kingdom of Itabalhum. Furthermore, a thorough reanalysis of the evidence from Dinkha has shown that there is, in fact, no radical discontinuity in material culture between the "Bronze Age" and "Iron Age", and that the archaeological sequence for Northwestern Iran in the second and first millennia BCE must therefore be reconsidered.