Qaleh Bozi Project

Late Middle Paleolithic


More than 40,000 years ago, groups of Paleolithic hunters who roamed the Mobarakeh region, used Qaleh Bozi caves as shelter for seasonal or temporary occupations and left behind considerable cultural remains that is now under investigations by archaeologists.


 The entrance of Qaleh Bozi 2 is overlooking the Zaiandeh Rud River valley

(photo: F. Biglari 2005)


The Qaleh Bozi caves are located about 25 km south-southwest of Isfahan, north east of Mobarakeh and north of Hassanabad village. The sites include two rockshelters and a cave located at altitudes between 1750 to 1810 m above sea level at 32° 24' N 51° 33' E, on the southern face of a limestone mountain of lower Cretaceous age that rises to more than 500 m above the plain floor. From the cave entrance, there is a commanding view of the plain below and the Zaiandeh Rud River flowing about 2 km to the south and southeast.


While these caves have been long-known to inhabitants of the Mobarakeh region, the archaeological potential of the sites was only recognized recently by a local fossil collector. Since that time, three phases of excavation were launched by archaeologists that revealed a large number of animal remains and stone tools dating back to Middle Paleolithic period.


 View of Qaleh Bozi 2 from the entrance of Qaleh bozi Rockshelter 

(photo: F. Biglari 2005) 


About 2500 flint tools and the waste pieces from their manufacture have been recovered from Qaleh Bozi sites. The flint pebbles used for tool manufacture were collected from the Zaiandeh-Rud River, less than 30 minutes walk from the caves. Most of the tools show heavy resharpening and utilization which indicates repeated use of these artifacts by occupants of shelters. Typologically the assemblage falls within the Mousterian with bifacial tools of the Middle Palaeolithic.



                                                        An Equid molar tooth from Qaleh Bozi 2 

 (photo: M. Mashkour 2006)


The great majority of the identified animal remains belong to herbivores. Among the large herbivores, the dominant species are the Equids. The identified species are Equus hemionus, E. hydruntinus, E. Cabalus and another small Equid. Other identified taxa are the Rhinoceros and the Aurochs. Among the small game wild sheep and goat and gazelles were identified.


A single side-scraper made on a river-worn cobble from Qaleh Bozi 2 

 (photo: F. Biglari 2008)


Qaleh Bozi attracted the attention of human groups owing not only to the presence of the caves but also to the combination of a number of favorable factors such as good solar exposure in cold seasons, proximity of freshwater in form of a permanent river, the variety of landscape types such as cliffs, slopes and plains which promoted diversity of games and plants.





Text from:

Biglari, F 2008. Qaleh Bozi Caves. A brochure, Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization, Archaeology office, Esfahan Province


For more information look at:

·         Biglari, F 2008. Qaleh Bozi Caves. A brochure, Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization, Archaeology office, Esfahan Province

·         Biglari F, M. Javeri, M. Mashkour, Y. Yazdi, S. Shidrang, M. Tengberg, and K. Taheri and J. Darvish 2009. Test excavations at the Middle Paleolithic sites of Qaleh Bozi, Southwest of Central Iran, A preliminary report, In: M. Otte, F. Biglari, and J. Jaubert (eds), Iran Palaeolithic. pp. 29–38, Proceedings of the XV World Congress UISPP, Lisbonne, Vol. 28, BAR International Series 1968.

·         Jaubert, J., F. Biglari, R, Crassard, M. Mashkour, W. Rendu and S. Shidrang, 2010, Paléolithique moyen récent de la grotte de Qaleh Bozi 2 (Esfahan, Iran): premiers résultats de la campagne 2008, Iranian Archaeology, Vol.1, No.1, pp. 21-31, Tehran

·         Shabani, M., Darvish, J., Mashkour, M., Ghasemzadeh, F. and Mirshamsi, O., 2010. Contemporary and sub-fossil house mice (Mus musculus Linnaeus, 1758)(Rodentia: Muridae) from Iran. Iranian Journal of Animal Biosystematics (IJAB), Vol. 6, No. 2, 45-54

·         Claud, E., F. Biglari, and J. Jaubert, 2012, Preliminary use-wear analysis of several Middle Paleolithic points from Qaleh Bozi 3 rockshelter, Central Iran, Iranian Archaeology, Vol.3: 7-13

·         Biglari, F., 2014. Typo-technological analysis of the Late Middle Paleolithic bifacial industry of Qaleh Bozi Rockshelter, Central Iran, in Replacement of Neanderthals by Modern Humans: Testing Evolutionary Models of Learning, Edited by Takeru Akazawa & Yoshihiro Nishiaki, pp. 48-50, RNMH Project Series, Tokyo

·         Cucchi, Thomas, Katerina Papayianni, Sophie Cerso, Laetitia Aznar-Cormano, Antoine Zazzo, Régis Debruyne, Rémi Berthon, Adrian Bălășescu, Alan Simmons, François Valla, Yannis Hamilakis, Fanis Mavridis, Marjan Mashkour, Jamshid Darvish, Roohollah Siahsarvi, Fereidoun Biglari, Cameron A. Petrie, Lloyd Weeks, Alireza Sardari, Sepideh Maziar, Christiane Denys, David Orton, Emma Jenkins, Melinda Zeder, Jeremy B. Searle, Greger Larson, François Bonhomme, Jean-Christophe Auffray, Jean-Denis Vigne (2020). Tracking the Near Eastern origins and European dispersal of the western house mouse, Scientific Reports, 19 May 2020. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-020-64939-9


Last updated: 23 August 2020