Late Holocene relative sea-level fluctuations and crustal mobility at Bataneh (Najirum) archaeological site, Persian Gulf, Iran

Majid Pourkerman, Nick Marriner, Christophe Morhange, Morteza Djamali, Hamid Lahijani, Sedighe Amjadi, Matteo Vacchi, Mohammad E. Jelodar, Giorgio Spada, Hossein Tofighian, Abdolmajid N. Beni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The impacts of relative sea-level (RSL) variations and crust mobility on the development of ancient harbours in the northern Persian Gulf are poorly understood. Many unanswered questions remain with regard to the main reasons for a shift in the location of the most important ancient harbours in the northern part of the Persian Gulf coastal since 50 BC. Furthermore, some important early Islamic harbours, such as Siraf, have ancient city quarters that are today below the present sea level. The aim of this study is to evaluate the relationship between halokinesis and RSL changes using geophysical models and multidisciplinary geoarchaeological methods at the ancient Sassanid–Islamic site of Bataneh (presently known as Najirum) located at the foothill of an active Darang salt diapir. The results reveal that after the mid-Holocene highstand, RSL regression was not continuous. The studied facies have recorded three RSL oscillations. The oscillations are correlated with the eustatic sea-level position. During the first lowstand, important Sassanid harbours shifted from Rishar to Apologus. The second lowstand is consistent with the transition of maritime trade from Apologus to Siraf, during the Abbasid dynasty. Uplift of the Bataneh coastal zone exposed the city to risks from flooding and fluvial debris flows. With a modification of the local watershed, runoff water originating from the salt anticlinal was controlled and used for the extraction of gypsum in evaporation ponds. The economic expansion of Siraf led to Bataneh being abandoned with a shift in trade to Kish Island.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)740-754
Number of pages15
JournalGeoarchaeology - An International Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the Center of International Scientific Studies and Collaborations (CISSC), the Iran National Science Foundation (INSF Grant Number: 94-44915), the French Embassy in Iran, Campus France (PHC GUNDISHAPUR 2016–2017, Project Number: 35630QH) and Labex OT-Med (ANR-11-LABX-0061). Radiocarbon datings were funded through the project ‘LIA HAOMA’ supported by the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique (CNRS, France). The study was also supported by Iran National Elite's Foundation and National Science Foundation Grant 94-44915. Giorgio Spada is funded by an FFABR (Finanziamento delle Attività Base di Ricerca) grant of the MIUR (Ministero dell'Istruzione, dell'Università e della Ricerca) and by a DiSPeA (Dipartimento di Scienze Pure e Applicate of the Urbino University) research grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC


  • ancient harbour
  • crustal mobility
  • geoarchaology
  • Najirum
  • Persian Gulf
  • relative sea level

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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