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1 October 2005
Holy cow statue discovered in Iran

Archaeological excavations in Gohar Tepe, in the Mazandaran province in Iran, led to the discovery of the remains of the statues of some cows, which were most probably used in religious ceremonies. The discovery of these sculptures indicates that the people of the region worshiped cows some 3000 years ago.
     Mazandaran is one of the most ancient provinces in Iran. Archaeological excavations indicate that human beings have inhabited the province from 400,000 years ago until the present time, and that around 5000 years ago, urbanization flourished in the area. Gohar Tepe is a proof to this claim. "Some cow statues have been discovered in the archaeological excavations of Gohar Tepe, one of which is left almost intact. These sculptures which are in shape of rhytons were being used in religious ceremonies," says Ali Mahforouzi, head of the excavation team of Gohar Tepe, Mazandaran, who is undertaking the forth season of excavations in the historical site.
     According to Mahforouzi, the discovered rhytons are broken but the one that is left intact and is bigger than the rest reveals artistic mastery. Rhytons were mostly used in religious places, but the ones discovered in Gohar Tepe of Mazandaran were found inside a dustbin in part of an ancient structure.
     Discovery of cultural evidence such as clay pieces around the structure indicates that the rhytons belong to the Iron Age (the first millennium BCE), but more studies are still needed to determine their exact period. Mahforouzi believes that rhytons reflect the beliefs of the ancient people of the region. These statues are evidence that the people of the region worshiped oxen and cows 3000 years ago. "Even today we can see some kind of respect towards the animals in the region," added Mahforouzi, referring to kinds of cows being regarded as symbols of hard work and fertility.
     The biggest intact rhyton discovered is about 30 cm long, 12 cm high and 15 cm wide. Archaeologists consider it as a unique discovery in Mazandaran province, and believe that with the discovery of the main worship place, more rhytons and statues could be found. The archaeological excavations in Gohar Tepe continues for 2 months, and the team of archeologists are to determine forms of urban life 5000 years ago, remains of which are evident in Gohar Tepe.

Source: Cultural Heritge News Agency (28 September 2005)

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