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Secondly and inevitably, “Iranian” also acquires the broader sense of “[a people] resident on the Iranianplateau,” since the ethnicity of various peoples who are only briefly mentioned in historical sources often is not definitely known.
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In the northwest of Iran, in Azerbaijan, and extending into Anatolia, were probably the ancestors of historical peoples who would exert important influence on the arriving Iranians—namely, the Manneans (successors in the Zagros and Lake Urmia region, if not lineal descendants, of the Hurrian people of the 3rd-2nd millenia) and the Urartians (the dominant people of the Caucasus in the early first millenium). We may suppose that, similar to the Elamites in the southwest, here the people of the Indus valley civilization, possibly proto-Dravidians, dominated the east, at least in culture and influence.
The fortified town excavated at Ḥasanlu (q.v.) in Azerbaijan provides valuable glimpses of the economic and cultural interaction across these regions and with Assyria. North of the Hindu Kush range it is conceivable that ancestors of the Hunzakut, the Burushaski-speaking people of present-day Hunza (in Northern Areas, Pakistan), had a presence so far to the west.
In the south were wide-heads or Mediterraneans, so-called after the sea around which most of them lived.
On the Iranian plateau the most ancient populations had perhaps a dominance of brachycephalics with fewer Alpine or Nordic types.
The population of eastern Iran and Afghanistan about 2000 B. Some scholars have suggested that, previous to the expansion of the Indo-European speakers, a family of peoples extended from the Atlantic Ocean to India, the relics of which were, or are, the Basques, Etruscans, Rhaetians, some Caucasian peoples, and the Hunzakut plus the Dravidian Brahuis of Baluchistan (Berger, 1998, pp. This is an unproved theory, and we can only say that it is most probable that the Indo-European speakers did not come upon empty areas in their expansion on the Iranian plateau but found earlier, unrelated inhabitants.
The role of these people in conveying new culture, both material and other, to the arriving Indo-Europeans is a subject of much speculation.
The earliest inhabitants of the Iranian plateau were hunters and gatherers (see PALEOLITHIC AGE at ); presumably they spoke a range of languages and dialects, of which we have no information. on the plateau, we find settlements and traces of material culture, primarily pottery, which reveal little of the inhabitants’ identity.
After the Neolithic revolution, estimated to have been about the eighth millennium B. One can only say that differentiation between agriculturists and pastoralists occurred at much the same time, but the development of extended families into clans and tribes must have taken place much earlier.
This movement may have injected Nordic racial elements into the existing populations. in northern Mesopotamia, the kingdom of Mitanni had Indo-Iranian elements, who displayed elements specific to Indo-Aryan culture (see, e.g., INDRA).