Islamic-era tomb-chamber, skeleton discovered in northwest Iran

September 20, 2020 - 23:19

TEHRAN – A human skeleton has recently been discovered by a team of archaeologists while conducting a demarcation survey across Geoy Tepe in northwest Iran.

Initial evidence of the body positioning suggests that the skeleton and its tomb-chamber date back to Ismail times, ILAN quoted Iman Rounasi, who leads the survey, as saying on Saturday.

“The human skeleton was unearthed during the demarcation project to set historical boundaries for Geoy Tepe. And based on the burial method (right side of the face to the west and head to the south), the human remains should date form the Islamic times.”

Many cultures treat the placement of dead people in an appropriate position to be a sign of respect even when burial is impossible. According to archaeologists, burials may be placed in a number of different positions. Bodies with the arms crossed date back to ancient cultures such as Chaldea in the 10th century BC, where the "X" symbolized their sky god. Later ancient Egyptian gods and royalty, from approximately 3500 BC are shown with crossed arms, such as the god Osiris, the Lord of the Dead, or mummified royalty with crossed arms in high and low body positions, depending upon the dynasty. The burial of bodies in the extended position, i.e., lying flat with arms and legs straight, or with the arms folded upon the chest, and with the eyes and mouth closed.

Extended burials may be supine (lying on the back) or prone (lying on the front). However, in some cultures, being buried face down shows marked disrespect like in the case of the Sioux. Other ritual practices place the body in a flexed position with the legs bent or crouched with the legs folded up to the chest. Warriors in some ancient societies were buried in an upright position. In Islam, the body is placed in a supine position, hands along the sides, and the head is turned to its right with the face towards the Qibla.

Geoy Tepe is situated about 7 kilometers south of Lake Urmia. It was found by an aerial survey of ancient sites in Persia done by Erich Schmidt in the 1930s. The site's mound is 80 feet in height and is situated by a natural spring. T. Burton Brown of Great Britain excavated the site in August 1948. It was found to have been continuously occupied from the 4th millennium BC until 1200 BC. The site yielded the remains of the earliest stage of the Kura-Araxes culture as well.

AFM/MG

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