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31 January 2009
New discoveries in Burnt City

The latest anthropological studies on the people of Iran's 5200-year-old Burnt City determined that they used their teeth as an extra hand. The studies were carried out on 52 skeletons discovered by a joint Italian-Iranian archaeological team at the cemetery of the city during the 12th season of excavation that concluded last week.
     "Using teeth to assist in creating artwork was very common among the people of the Burnt City," anthropologist of the team Farzad Foruzanfar said. "The people used their teeth in weaving wicker, nets and textiles, and in creating artwork with ornamental stones," he said, adding "Teeth were the extra hand of people in these professions."
     Some evidence supporting this claim was found during the previous seasons of excavation in the Burnt city. Abrasions caused by pulling fibers of the palmetto plant by teeth and seen in both genders, further support the conclusions. Various shapes of abrasions in teeth are visible including surface, bias, grooves, holes, and as a result of friction. Consequently, anthropologists believe that people used their teeth in many ordinary jobs. "People pulled fibers with their teeth and also moisturized them with saliva for weaving wickerworks, which have previously been discovered in the Burnt City," Foruzanfar said.
     Iranian archeologists have also discovered a child's fire-consumed skeleton in the same siye. "The child's body was burnt completely 5,000 years ago," said Farzad Forouzanfar. According to Forouzanfar, only the skull and a part of the child's face had survived the fire. "The child's limbs were in a normal position, which means that the child didn't move during the fire," he explained. Evidence shows that the child had been suffocated by carbon monoxide before he was burnt.
     Earlier in the 12th excavation phase, archeologists found 52 skeletons along with 12 ancient graves, which are believed to be unique among the discoveries of the past 30 years. Over 400 prehistoric sites have been excavated in Burnt City and archeologists expect the number to reach 1,000.

Sources: PressTV (27 January 2009), Tehran Times, PressTV (28 January 2009)

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