Expert deciphers nails around ancient Pahluj skeletons

September 21, 2008

TEHRAN -- An anthropologist said that the nails around the ancient Pahluj skeletons imply an unknown style of burial carried out for females during the early Islamic era.

“We face an unknown style of burial, in which nails have been located upside down on the earth, maybe in order to hold a sheet of wood above the bodies in the graves,” Farzad Foruzanfar told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.
“The bodies have not been buried in coffins because no remains of wood have been found under the skeletons. However we have found a brown powder of wood on some of the nails’ points,” he added.
The graves were discovered during the rescue excavation, which has begun at the site near the village of Mirar-Kola in northern Iran in late August.
Pahluj (mistakenly spelled Tahluj in previous reports), which is home to several sites dating back from Iron Age to early Islamic era, will be completely submerged under water and mud when the Alborz Dam becomes operational. Pahluj is located in the Savadkuh region of Mazandaran Province.
“The nails have been used in the females’ burial and they have not been found in the males’ graves. This indicates that females were buried in a unique manner during that period of the times,” Foruzanfar explained.
“The nails were located parallel at specific points at the same distances,” he added.
Mehdi Abedini, the director of the archaeological team working at the 3000-year-old site had previously said that the bodies were buried with nails beside their knees and beside their left shoulders, and bunch of nails over and under their heads and feet.
“The existence of bunch of the nails over and under the bodies’ heads and feet is very strange indeed and we have no explanation for them yet,” Foruzanfar said.
The archaeologists have also discovered silver spoons, bracelets, and beads made of lapis lazuli at the graves.
Due to the discoveries, experts believe that women enjoyed a special status during the early Islamic period in the region.