Burnt City (Iran): Archaeologists find bizarre burials

Source - http://tehrantimes.com/arts-and-culture/117165-archaeologists-find-bizarre-burials-in-burnt-city

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Grave 2810 of the 5200-year-old Burn City contains the body of a man, who it is surmised was beheaded for some offense. (Photo by CHN)

 An archaeological team, which has been assigned to reconstruct the ancient society of the 5200-year-old Burnt City in a new research project, have found several 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,” team director Seyyed Mansur Sajjadi told the Persian service of CHN on Monday.

Located 57 kilometers from the Iranian town of Zabol in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, the Burnt City was excavated for the first time by the Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente (IsIAO) team led by Maurizio Tosi in 1967. The team conducted nine seasons of excavations until 1978.

One of the odd burials is in Grave 1003, which had been excavated by our Italian colleagues,” Sajjadi said.

The skeleton of 45-year-old man is located in the center of the circle-shaped grave and skulls of two dogs are placed above his head. In addition, 12 human skulls were placed on the north side of the grave, he stated, adding that to date, no other example of such a burial has been discovered in the Burnt City.

Due to the structure of the grave, Sajjadi stated, “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.”

The archaeologists say that the grave may date back to a period before the advent of Zoroastrianism or it may belong to the people who were living in the region before the Iranian people settled in the area.

According to Sajjadi, Grave 2810 features another strange burial in the Burnt City.

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,” he stated.  

The archaeologists surmise that the man was beheaded with the 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 offense, 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.

Another odd burial was discovered in Grave 609.

The grave contains six skulls with a large number of long human bones, Sajjadi said.

All these burials raise a number of questions: Why were the men buried in such styles during the third millennium? Were the men buried in these styles by accident or on purpose? Were the men buried in such ways to save ground in the graveyard? Or are there other reasons behind these burial styles and we are unaware of them,” he asked.

Iranian and foreign archaeologists have conducted 31 seasons of excavations in the Burnt City, which was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in June.

A 10-centimeter ruler with an accuracy of half a millimeter, an artificial eyeball, an earthenware bowl bearing the world’s oldest example of animation and many other artifacts have been discovered among the ruins of the city in the course of the 22 seasons of archaeological excavations conducted by Iranian teams.