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14 December 2008
Neolithic settlement unearthed in Iran

An archaeological team working on the Kelar Tepe believes that they have found a Neolithic settlement on the prehistoric mound located in the Kelaradsht region in Iran's northern province of Mazandaran. However they have said that more tests are needed to determine an accurate date for the site.
     "Excavations at the Rashak 3 Cave have uncovered an oven at a depth of 5 meters," team director Hamed Vahdatinasab said. "We have also discovered shards in the oven, which are very similar to Neolithic pottery works," he added. Vahdatinasab said that Ezzatollah Negahban, the father of modern Iranian archaeology, had excavated the region about 40 years ago.  
     Three human shelters were identified during the excavations, named Rashak 1, 2, and 3, with the last being most important and largest according Negahban’s research. The region came into the limelight after the team began studying the Rashak 3 excavation in 2006 and 2007. "The Rashak 3 excavations had been turned into a sheepfold by the people living in the surrounding region and the sheep excrements contributed to the preservation of the ancient strata," Vahdatinasab said. The samples of the shards have been sent to Oxford University for carbon-14 dating, he added.
     A number of shards, surmised to date back to Chalcolithic era, and animal bones have also been unearthed at the site and a team of experts are currently studying the artifacts. Covering an area of 6000 hectares, the Kelar Tepe is a mound 10 meters in height located in Kelardasht, a scenic plain in a large valley located in the Elborz Mountains, north of Tehran.

Source: Tehran Times (14 December 2008)

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