Kani Shaie is a small site consisting of a fourteen meter high main mound and a low extension to its north. The entire site covers no more than one hectare, while the main mound itself is only c. 60 m in diameter.
Despite its small size, Kani Shaie is one of the most prominent and largest archaeological sites in the Bazyan Valley. It is located at the center of the valley, close to one of the easiest roads across the Baranand Hills, the Tasluja Pass, and at the opening to four different, small arable plains. Furthermore, the site sits next to a spring and between several small streams, providing ample water supply and a pocket of lush vegetation with shade and small animals. Finally, it is only a few minutes walk to the rocky Pila Spi outcropping that bisects the valley and offers a supply of basic building material. In many ways then Kani Shaie is ideally situated to take full advantage of the available resources and to access the local agricultural potential and the routes that connect the Bazyan Valley to the outside world. Slightly to the north of Kani Shaie, well within sight, is another similarly shaped site, Gerdi Koyik, that might have fulfilled the same function during later periods after Kani Shaie was abandoned. A few kilometers to the south another site, Gerdi Drozna, of similar size and shape as Kani Shaie sits close to another pass across the Baranand Hills. The Bazyan Valley never seems to have been densely occupied and the few sites that are visible in the landscape are even smaller than Kani Shaie.
Interactive Map of the Bazian Valley
The 2013 Season
The ideal position of Kani Shaie already suggests that this site might have fulfilled a central role within the Bazyan Valley. This has been confirmed by the results of our first season of excavation in September 2013 when we opened two step trenches (KS1000 – Area A and KS2000 – Area B) on the north and south slopes to determine the sequence of occupation. We were unable during the first season to reach natural soil, but based on the remaining depth of deposits and material collected from the surface it appears that Kani Shaie might have been first occupied during the later Ubaid period and continued throughout the Late Chalcolithic fourth millennium. The lowest levels reached this season belong to the Late Chalcolithic.
The 2015 Season
In this season, we could confirm much of the data collected in the first campaign. In particular, we were interested in gaining a better understanding of the stratigraphic sequence at Kani Shaie, and start exploring lengthly the nature of the settlements at the site. While we had intended to focus the excavations this year on the Early Bronze Age remains, Kani Shaie revealed another part of itself. The excavations in 2013 had suggested that there was limited occupation at Kani Shaie after the Early Bronze Age, during the Middle Islamic period. Three weeks of excavation made it clear that the top 1,5m of the mound is the result of activities during many centuries starting at the beginning of the Middle Islamic period and lasting into recent decades. We were able to collect a substantial corpus of ceramics of these Islamic periods, which will prove to be invaluable to the study of these periods in the Slemani region. The study of the human remains of the cemetery level will provide unique insights in the life of the inhabitants of the Bazyan Valley during the past centuries.
The activities on top of the mound during the Islamic Period severely disturbed the upper levels of the Early Bronze Age. As a result, very little evidence remains for the last phases of occupation, but some material suggests that the site remained inhabited until ca. 2500 BCE. These Early Bronze Age levels will be the target of the next excavation season and these results will be published soon. The data collected at Kani Shaie is crucial to the study of the early history in the region, since the first half of the Early Bronze Age (ca. 3100-2500 BCE) is largely unknown throughout the Zagros region.
Finally, we were able to confirm that a long, possibly uninterrupted Late Chalcolithic sequence underlies the Early Bronze Age remains. This period is also poorly understood, and our excavations are constantly adding new insights to the material culture and the history of this period. Our sounding has revealed that these Late Chalcolithic levels are particularly well preserved, which demonstrates the need for continued excavation at Kani Shaie for years to come.