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10 October 2011
Iranian artefact confirmed as ancient musical instrument

Experts have proven that the artefact unearthed at the Gohar-Tappeh prehistoric mound in Mazandaran Province in 2005 is a clarinet. The musical instrument, which was very common in Mazandaran, had been discovered in a grave beside a skeleton that belonged to a woman, said team director Ali Mahforuzi. This is the oldest musical instrument ever discovered in the Mazandaran region.
     "About 300 pairs of dice of a kind used for playing craps, which is common among the Iranian Turkmens, were discovered in the grave of [another woman at the Gohar-Tappeh cemetery]," Mahforuzi said. Carbon-14 tests carried out on the oldest archaeological stratum of the mound date it to about 3500 BCE.
     The mound comprises the ruins of a city, a cemetery and an industrial part, but there apparently was no connection between the city and the cemetery. The burials were carried out in fetal or face-up positions. The team has also found some jar burials, which mostly pertain to children. "Jar burials were common mostly among the Parthians. Thus, this find strengthens the theory that they had lived in this region for a period," Mahforuzi stated.
     "The Parthians ruled part of Mazandaran and the northeast of Iran, but Gohar-Tappeh dates back from third millennium BCE to the Iron Age - afterwards people migrated to other regions nearby," he added. The archaeologists have also found skeletons of a couple buried in a single grave.
     The skeleton of a warrior buried in an attacking pose with a dagger in his hands in one grave, the skeleton of a child and a bronze pendant with a bullhorn motif in another grave, and a number of bull statuettes have been found at the site during previous phases of excavations in 2005.

Edited from Tehran Times (10 September 2011)

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