The Shahsevan Nomads from the Ground and from the Sky

The cyclical trend of transhumance is due to the harsh winter conditions in the mountains. This Shahsevan camp, photographed by anthropologist Richard Tapper in 1964, is within the summer mountain pastures. Source: Richard Tapper, 1964.
This Shahsevan family is on the move, traveling to new pastures. Everything they own is portable and fits on top of the camels. The most valuable possessions of this family are the sheep following behind them. Source: Richard Tapper, 1966.
When this CORONA image was taken in 1968, much of the traditional pasture was behind the Cold War frontier between US-allied Iran (center) and Soviet Azerbaijan (upper right). Source: USGS/Jason Ur, 1968.
CORONA satellites captured images of Shahsevan winter campsites in the Mughan Steppe in 1970. Areas within the white boxes are shown in detail in the next image. Source: USGS/Jason Ur, 1970.
Detail images (center) reveal that the nomads camped in a circular pattern, surrounded by their livestock, enclosed in dug out pits. Source: USGS/Jason Ur, 1970.
A SPOT image from the first decade of the 21st century shows that although the some modern villages had emerged, many of the nomadic campsites still survived. Source: Google, date unknown.
A view from the ground allows archaeologists to understand that the circular shapes on the Mughan Steppe, captured by CORONA, are indeed nomadic campsites. Ground control is crucial to the interpretation of satellite imagery. Source: Karim Alizadeh, 2005.
In a 2000 (false color) Landsat image, the modern agricultural land appears in red, with nomadic campsites identified from CORONA highlighted in yellow. Source: Global Land Cover Facility, 2000.

The Shahsevan in these images traditionally divided their time between their summer pastures of Mount Sabalan and their winter pastures on the Mughan Steppe. The closure of the Russian frontier in 1884 forced them to graze their animals more intensively on the Mughan Steppe. In the late 20th century, the Iranian government constructed irrigation canals in an effort to reintroduce sedentary agriculture for the first time in centuries. The new farmland encroached on their traditional pastures and forced many Shahsevan to settle in villages. The remains of their camps can only be seen in images from the CORONA satellite program.