(Part 2)

Discover Iron Age burial in Gilan: bizarre patterns and rituals

August 27, 2021 - 17:20

TEHRAN – As mentioned previously, the Iron Age in Iran and Gilan is divided into three sections: Iron Age I, II, and III. Furthermore, some archaeologists believe the existence of Iron Age IV, which continues until the middle of the Parthian (Ashkanian) period (end of 1st Millennium BC).

According to a scientific article conducted by the senior Iranian archaeologist Yousef Fallahian,  in almost all Iron Age sites of Gilan, the dead had been buried on the right shoulder or left shoulder and bent legs with low and high curvature degrees. Only a small number of bodies had been buried supine (face up) in some cemeteries.

Jamshid Abad

The ancient cemetery of Jamshid Abad, which is situated in the central district of Roudbar township, covers an area of six acres approximately and is located within a residential context.

As mentioned by Fallahian, of the seven discovered graves in Jamshid Abad excavations in 2000, five graves were simple vacuolar graves and the other two had a number of stone pieces on themselves (stack stone). The other had a row of dry constructed walls. All graves were discovered at a depth of one to three meters about 270 cm above ground level like that of the average mass graves.

 In addition, all nine discovered graves in Jamshid Abad in 2006 were of simple vacuolar graves. Most of the discovered graves in Jamshid Abad had one corpse, but in some cases, some graves with the corpses of two dead men or women had been achieved. A condition that is almost common in Jamshid Abad graves is the burial of corpses as flank burial and bent feet. It is worth mentioning that no buried object discovered adjacent to a corpse seems to belong to a woman in the second grave of the seventh trench.

Most of the discovered objects from Jamshid Abad were made either of clay or bronze. In the first season of excavation, 42 pieces of ceramic objects had been found as the 78% of the total amount of discovered objects. On average, six pottery artifacts have been found in each of the Jamshid Abad graves. Among them, the discovery of the two types of pottery including a series of narrow-mouthed urns sometimes with different colors and the wide mouth containers in various forms were considered as the most discovered artifacts.

In the second season, metal objects had been discovered that also all are made of bronze including three groups of weapons (swords and daggers) ornaments (bracelets, rings, and barrette), and tools with specific applications (awl).

Shahran

There are three Iron Age sites in Shahran named: Lame Zamin, Painmahal, and Mohtesham.

Lame Zamin is one of the Iron Age sites in Shahran village which is located in the Roudbar township. Thirteen graves were discovered in the first season of excavation at Lame Zamin by the Japanese team in an area of several hundred square meters, all of which were of vacuolar-type. But in the second excavation in 1978, the foreign explorers had discovered twelve graves in an area of two hundred square meters of land. In this excavation, graves have been discovered were of simple vacuolar and stone heap vacuolar graves. Some of these graves were elliptic which belonged to adults. The other type was a rectangular vacuolar grave mostly belonging to children.

The discovered objects and artifacts from adults’ graves were mostly black and gray pottery. Generally, the objects discovered in Lame Zamin graves mostly include gray and red pottery in the form of rounded bottom pottery (needing a tripod to stand) with large covers like a large funnel and large lavers as well as other objects such as humanoid pottery figurines. It is worth noting that the metal objects discovered in the graves in Lame Zamin of Shahran were just copper. The human bones were studied in this site and was expressed that most of them belong to Mesocephalic.

 Generally, three types of graves have been discovered during the excavations in Shahran. The first type was of vacuolar graves discovered in the low-lying neighboring area at Shahran. The second type was crypt graves mostly found from high neighboring areas in Shahran. The third type was stone cavity graves mostly have been discovered at the Lame Zamin site in Shahran.

Features of Iron Age burial culture in Roudbar (Sefidrood) domain

Generally, the oldest cemeteries related to Iron Age can be traced in the cultural domain of Roudbar in Gilan. In other words, the number of Iron Age1 sites in this domain is more than any other domain of the Iron Age in Gilan. The significant Roudbar sites are namely Lamezamin of Shahran, Kalouraz, and Jamshid Abad which doubtless belong to the Iron Age.

It appears that there is a direct relationship between the vacuolar graves and the chronology of Iron Age sites in Gilan. This means that the vacuolar graves usually belong to the earlier Iron Ages and a large percentage of these graves are in the cultural domain of Roudbar and the depth of these graves is distinct and significant than those of the graves of the Deilaman, Amlash, and Tavalesh domains. The vacuolar graves are also frequent in Halima Jan, Jamshid Abad, Joboun, and Shirkooh sites. Of course, this type of burial can be observed in some other sites such as Ghale Kouti and Boye in Amlash and Deilaman domains as well, but their total number is less especially in the Tavalesh domain.

Figurines of all kinds such as animal or human, or combinations thereof (Griffon) have been discovered largely from the Iron Age cemeteries in this domain. The abundance of cattle figurines known as zebu is considered as the characteristic of the Iron Age of this domain, while this feature is not seen or (like Eshkor Bala from Deilaman and Amlash domain) or has a lower frequency in the two other domains in Gilan. Considering the number of figurines, Marlik, Kalouraz, and Halima Jan sites are exemplary.

More gold and silver objects had been discovered in the Iron Age cemeteries in the cultural domain of Roudbar than any other area till the present time. Overall, the richness and abundance of the Iron Age cemeteries in the Roudbar domain are more than that of the two other domains, and even the average number of discovered objects is greater.

Large numbers of weapons, especially swords and other combat tools in this domain are more comparable to Deilaman, Tavalesh, and Amlash domains. This is likely due to the occurrence of violence in the domain.

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