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9 October 2005
Ancient gambler skeleton unearthed in Iran

Archaeologists excavating the ancient cemetery of Gohar Tepe of Mazandaran, north of Iran, discovered some 600 pieces of bone used in a gambling game inside the tomb of a woman. The game pieces found in the tomb belong to a traditional Persian game called 'Ghap' which is played with the bone remains of sheep foot knuckle.
     Gohar Tepe is one of the key archaeological sites of Mazandaran province, providing experts with surprising ancient evidence in the last four seasons of work there. People resided in the region since 5000 years ago to the first millennium BCE.
     Ali Mahforouzi, head of the excavation team of Gohar Tepe, explained that the potsherds discovered alongside the woman and the game bones show her to date back to the first millennium BCE. "So many pieces have never been found from one single grave; moreover, with the large number of potsherds found in the tomb, we assume the woman to have had a special social status," Mahforouzi added.
     The interesting point about the game pieces is that they are all in the same size which puts forward the hypothesis of them belonging to a collection maybe gathered by the woman; some of the bones are also pierced which make experts believe that the woman should have used them as for a necklace. Two dress and hair pins have been found on the woman's chest and on the back of her head, revealing that she wore a dress and had her hair done in the back. Another discovery inside the tomb is a huge jug with some measurement scales, the use of which is not yet clear.
     Archaeological excavations will continue in the area for two months.

Source: Payvand (5 October 2005)

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