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1 August 2014
Archaeologists find bizarre burials in Iran

A 10-centimetre-long ruler with an accuracy of half a millimetre, an artificial eyeball, and an earthenware bowl bearing the world's oldest example of animation, are among many artefacts discovered in the ruins of Burnt City, a 5200-year-old archaeological site near the Afghan border in eastern Iran, where researchers have also found a number of bizarre burials.
     "From 1200 graves, which have been discovered in the Burnt City since 1975 during various archaeological excavations, there are several burials which are very odd and mysterious," says team director Seyyed Mansur Sajjadi.
     Grave 1003 is one of these. In it, the skeleton of 45-year-old man was found in the centre of a circular pit, with the skulls of two dogs above his head, and 12 human skulls on the north side. No other example of such a burial has been discovered in the Burnt City.
     According to Sajjadi, "The grave undoubtedly belongs one of the peoples who had migrated from the Central Asia to the Iranian Plateau. This kind of burial indicates strong relations between the people of the region and Central Asia."
     Grave 2810 features another strange burial. "This grave belongs to a man who died sometime between the ages of 25 and 30. The head of the man was buried in the lower part of his right side and two daggers or cutting tools were also placed on his right side," Sajjadi says. The archaeologists guess that the man was beheaded with these same cutting tools.
     "In the grave, there are some pottery bowls and vases, which were used during formal funerals in ancient times. Therefore, we surmise that the man was executed for some offence, but due to the evidence of the formal funeral that was held for the man, he must have been a respected member of the community," Sajjadi said.
     Grave 609 contains a further odd burial - six skulls, with a large number of long human bones. "All these burials raise a number of questions", Sajjadi says.

Edited from Tehran Times (21 July 2014)

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