Iranian archaeologists return to 7500-year-old Sialk site

April 16, 2009

TEHRAN -- A team of Iranian archaeologists began the second season of excavation at the northern mound of the 7500-year-old Sialk site near the central city of Kashan last week.

The mound is the ruins of a village, which is considered to be Iran’s most ancient rural structure.
“This part is the very village, which we believe is Iran’s and even the world’s most ancient village. Thus we are carrying out our studies in the line with last year’s research on the ancient strata,” team director Mohammad-Hassan Fazeli Nashli told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.
He is also the director the Archaeological Research Center of Iran.
A 170-centimeter wall comprising 13 courses of mud bricks was discovered during the first season of the new excavations, carried out by a joint Iranian and British archaeological team in 2008. It is one of the earliest examples of ancient Iranian architecture.
The second season of excavations will run for a month at the site.
Prior to the new seasons of studies, the Sialk Tepe had been excavated by Iranian archaeologist Sadeq Malek Shahmirzad, whose studies were published in a five-volume book.
The cultural strata in the northern mound of Sialk are about 14 meters thick. A number of stone, pottery and copper artifacts as well as seashells have been found there during previous research digs.
Some graves have also been discovered in an ancient house unearthed from the mound during the previous excavation.
Located in the suburbs of the city of Kashan, Sialk Tepe was excavated for the first time by French archaeologist Roman Ghirshman and his team in 1933 and then again in 1934 and 1937.
Sialk Tepe, believed to be the world’s oldest ziggurat, consists of two mounds known as northern and southern Sialk, which are located about 600 meters apart. The artifacts unearthed in the northern mound are more ancient than those of the southern one.
As early as 3200 BC, inhabitants of Sialk used a type of script known as proto-Elamite, whose signs combined pictograms and numerals. Sialk was eventually abandoned at the end of the Iron Age, before the advent of the Medes.
Recent studies by Iranian archaeologists indicate that the first houses were built at the Sialk site about 7500 years ago.