Nails around Tahluj ancient skeletons puzzle archaeologists

September 10, 2008 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- The nails found around ancient skeletons at a newly discovered cemetery of Tahluj have puzzled the team of archaeologists working at the 3000-year-old site.

The cemetery dating back early Islamic era was discovered during the rescue excavation, which has begun at the site near the village of Mirar-Kola in northern Iran in late August.
The Tahluj site, 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. Tahluj is located in the Savadkuh region of Mazandaran Province.
The team has discovered ten skeletons, all belonging to children or youth. The bodies were buried with one nail beside their knees, one nail beside their left shoulders, and bunch of nails over and under their heads and feet, team director Mehdi Abedini told the Persian service of CHN on Monday.
“Nowhere else have we seen such a burial,” he noted.
“The bodies were not buried in coffins due to the close proximity of the graves,” Abedini said, adding, “Thus, the nails could not be from any coffin.”
The nails have been intentionally located at certain spots probably for an unknown ritual ceremony, which may have been common in the region during the periods, Abedini explained.
Silver spoons, bracelets, and beads made of lapis lazuli have also been found at the graves.
“The skeletons date back to the early Islamic era, however they have been buried based on the Sassanids’ burial rites,” Abedini said.
The nails were left in situ to be studied by a team of anthropologists, who will travel to the site in the forthcoming days. Thus the team has not been able to determine the material used for making the nails. However, they surmise that the nails are most likely made of Iron.
Some experts will also join the team to determine the gender of the skeletons.
The team has previously discovered three graves that date back to the Iron Age.