Iranian farmers grew rice some 3,000 years ago, archaeologists find

May 12, 2023 - 18:27

TEHRAN – Iranian farmers cultivated rice along the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea as far back as 3,000 years ago, an archaeological survey has discovered.

Based on the results of an archaeological survey conducted by experts from the Peking University, rice cultivation in the Mazandaran region dates some 3,000 years, ISNA quoted Iranian archaeologist Ebrahim Amirkolai as saying on Thursday.

The study relies on evidence mostly accumulated from excavations conducted on Qale-Kesh, an archaeological site near Amol, the archaeologist said.

It shows that the history of this grain’s cultivation in Mazandaran goes back to the Achaemenid period and even further in time to 3,000 years ago, he explained.

Moreover, the excavations at the site revealed significant data about the Bronze Age and Iron Age, Amirkolai stated.

He noted Qale-Kesh is considered one of the most significant ancient hills situated in Mazandaran province.

“Even [cultural] layers from the Islamic and Sasanian periods were found in this area…”

Moreover, the excavations yielded carried potteries, architectural remains, burials, and other findings such as stone tools, two animal figures in the shape of a cow, and several bronze objects, he said.

“One of the most important characteristics of the Bronze Age in Iran is gray and black potteries, which have been discovered in Qale-Kesh and previous excavations in Tepe Hesar…,”

Situated on the southern outskirts of Damghan, Tepe Hesar is one of the world’s five [archaeological] hills of the Iron Age, and the hill is also considered as of the oldest prehistorical sites in the Iranian plateau. The hill dates back to 7,500 years ago, and it bears three main cultural periods, from the late Neolithic to the end of the Bronze Age.

Referring to an archaeological hypothesis of a gap between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, he noted: “According to the excavations carried out in Qale-Kesh, it can be hypothesized that the process of transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age took place gradually and continuously, however, this hypothesis is not definitive.”

In addition, the excavations detected traces of sand, which, according to the geographers, it is possible that the area existed in the sea before or that the sea once advanced to that area, he explained.

As mentioned by Amirkolai, in addition to rice grains, other plant seeds such as barley and lentil were found at the site.

According to Britannica, many cultures have evidence of early rice cultivation, including China, India, and the civilizations of Southeast Asia. However, the earliest archaeological evidence comes from central and eastern China and dates to 7,000–5,000 BC.

In Asia, the paddy is cultivated in three main types of soil, including clays with a firm bottom within a few inches of the surface; silts and soft clays with soft bottoms becoming hard on drying; and peats and “mucks” containing peat, provided the depth of the peat is not excessive.

Fields must be drained and dried before harvesting. When combining harvesters or binder threshers are employed, the grain must be dried to about 14 percent moisture so that no deterioration takes place in storage. When reaper binders are used, the crop is “shocked” in certain ways so that the grain is protected from rain.


Leave a Comment