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17 August 2008
5000 years ago women in control of Burnt City

Recent studies of a team of archeologists have shown that 5000 years ago (3200 BCE) women had the economic control of the Burnt City, a Bronze Age urban settlement associated with the Jiroft civilization and located in Iran.
     Some paleo-anthropologists believe that mothers in the Burnt City had social and financial prominence, director of the team working at the Burnt City said recently.  Addressing the archaeology students at Zabol University, Seyed Mansour Seyed Sajjadi said that 5000 year-old insignias, made of river pebbles and believed to belong only to distinguished inhabitants of the city, were found in the graves of some female citizens. "Some believe the female owners of the insignias used them to place their seal on valuable documents. Others believe the owners may have used the seal to indicate their lofty status in society", he added.
     In December 2006, archaeologists discovered the world's earliest artificial eyeball in the city's necropolis, thought to have been worn by a female resident of the Burnt City. Microscopic research has revealed that the eye socket of the female remains bear clear imprints of the golden thread, suggesting that the woman must have worn the eyeball during her lifetime. With her shining golden eye she must have been a striking figure, perhaps a soothsayer or an oracle. The woman with the artificial eye was 1.82 m tall (6 feet), much taller than the average women of her time. Experts say that her skeleton dates to between 2900 and 2800 BC, when the Burnt City was a bustling, wealthy city and trading post at the crossroads of the East and the West. It is thought that the woman may have arrived at the city on a caravan from Arabia. Archeologists have not yet revealed the cause of the woman's death. 
     Paleopathological studies on 40 teeth unearthed in the Burnt City's cemetery show that the inhabitants of the city used their teeth as a tool for weaving to make baskets and other handmade products. The use of teeth as a tool in the Burnt City is seen in both males and females of different age groups. Evidence shows that weaving was more than a hobby in the prehistoric city. It was one of the most common professions in the city which required a special skill. Residents made a variety of weaved products such as carpets, baskets and other household items.
     The Burnt City has been continually excavated since the 1970s by Iranian and Italian archaeological teams, with new discoveries periodically reported. Covering an area of 151 hectares, the city was built around 3200 BCE and abandoned over a millennium later in 2100 BCE.  The city experienced four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times. It took its eventual named because it was never rebuilt after the last fire.

Source: IranMania (12 August 2008)

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