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23 July 2005
Unusual Iron Age steles discovered in Iran

Over 500 stone steles bearing images of faces of men and women with no mouths were recently discovered at Shahr Yeri in Ardebil Province (Iran). Alireza Hojabri Nuri, the director of the team of archaeologists working at the site, added that the steles are arranged one after another in the form of a wall and date back to the Iron Age.
      "The discovered steles enjoy unique characteristics, and the remains of earthenware and rare stones on the stone platforms beneath the steles indicate that the place used to be a temple where the inhabitants made offerings. The temple floor was made of stone, although no sign of its ceiling has been found yet. The steles vary in height from 35 centimeters to 230 centimeters. It seems that the temple was very important in the time before the Urartians invaded the region, but then the temple lost its prominence," he explained.
     The steles are made of tuff, which is not heavy and are covered with many details such as weapons, he added. The weapons on the steles are extremely varied and are similar to those found in the graves of Iron Age I in Shahr Yeri, Mr Nuri said. All the details of each face are engraved on the steles except for the mouth, which seems to have a religious meaning, he added.
    According to a theory, the steles were made by the inhabitants and were placed in the temple as offerings to their gods, but another theory says that the steles were their gods themselves, he explained, adding that both theories state that a face with no mouth means silence.

Source: Mehr News (19 July 2005)

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