The Iranian plateau, also known as the Persian plateau is a geological formation in Southwest Asia, Southern Asia and the Caucasus region . It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Arabian Sea to the south and Hindu Kush to the east.
As a historical region, it includes Parthia, Media and eastern Persia, the heartlands of Greater Persia (mainly Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan west of the River Indus).
The Zagros mountains form the plateau's western boundary, and its eastern slopes may be included in the term. The Encyclopedia Britannica excludes "lowland Khuzestan" explicitly and characterizes Elam as spanning "the region from the Mesopotamian plain to the Iranian Plateau".
From the Caspian in the northwest to Baluchistan in the south-east, the Iranian Plateau extends for close to 2,000 km. It encompasses the greater part of Iran, Afghanistan and significant part of Pakistan on an area roughly outlined by the quadrangle formed by the cities of Tabriz, Shiraz, and Kabul
containing some 3.7 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles). In spite of being called a "plateau", it is far from flat but contains several mountain ranges, the highest peak being Damavand in the Alborz at 5610 m, and the Lut basin east of Kerman in Central Iran falling below 300 m.
In geology, the plateau region of Iran
primarily formed of the accretionary Gondwanan terranes
between the Turan platform
to the north and the Main Zagros Thrust, the suture zone between the northward moving Arabian plate
and the Eurasian continent, is called the Iranian plateau. It is a geologically well-studied area because of general interest in continental collision zones, and because of Iran's long history of research in geology
, particularly in economic geology
(although Iran's major petroleum reserves
are not in the plateau).
The Persian plateau
in geology refers to a geographical area north of the great folded mountain belts resulting from the collision of the Arabian plate
with the Eurasian plate
. In this definition, the Iranian plateau does not cover southwestern Iran.
It extends from East Azerbaijan
Province in northwest of Iran
(Persia) to southern Afghanistan
. It also includes smaller parts of the Republic of Azerbaijan
. Its mountain ranges can be divided into five major sub-regions:
- Northwest Iran Ranges
- Central Iranian Plateau
- Eastern Iranian Ranges
- Kopet Dag
- Kuh-e Siah Khvani 3314 m. 10,873 ft.
- Eshdeger Range
- Sikaram 4755 m. 15,600 ft.
- Kuh-e Taftan 3941 m, 12,930 ft.
- Zargun 3578 m, 11,739 ft.
Rivers and plains:
In the Bronze Age, Elam stretched across the Zagros mountains, connecting Mesopotamia and the Iranian Plateau. The kingdoms of Aratta known from cuneiform sources may have been located in the Central Iranian Plateau.
In classical antquity the region was known as Persia, due to the Persian Achaemenid dynasty, originating in Persia proper, or Fars.
The Middle Persian Erān (whence Modern Persian Irān) began to be used in reference to the state (rather than as an ethnic designator) from the Sassanid period (see Etymology of Iran).
Archaeological sites and cultures of the Iranian plateau include:
- Y. Majidzadeh, Sialk III and the Pottery Sequence at Tepe Ghabristan. The Coherence of the Cultures of the Central Iranian Plateau, Iran 19, 1981, 141-46.