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Excavation Reveals Amorous Burial in Ancient Iran

After 3 seasons of excavation in Sadrom Hill, one of Iran's most ancient cemeteries, archeologists are deterred by a host of bureaucratic hurdles, though they are still content with unearthing some precious Achaemenid artifacts, Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency reported on Thursday.

The graveyard, located in the desert province of Qom, dates back to 3,500 years ago and is deemed as one of the most significant pre-historic cemeteries of Persia. Archeologists have already discovered so many graves and valuable antiquities there, mostly hailing from the Achaemenid period (559-330 B.C.). Mismanagement in the maintenance of the site, however, along with a swarm of other problems, has discouraged the experts in the searing heat of Iran's central Kavir (desert).

"An archeologist's job is to explore and excavate. He or she cannot handle precious artifacts without scientific considerations. We have dug out precious vessels and dishes in this cemetery, some dating back to the 2nd millennium B.C., but now great threats endanger our efforts," said Khosro Pourbakhshandeh, head of the excavation team.

He added archeologists are not able to take out artifacts buried with the dead out of the graves, because some of them are multi-layered, saying, "We believe the inhabitants of the area used to have a rich cultural exchange with other people dwelling in Iran's central desert, thus these artifacts can say volumes about the Achaemenids' mysteries."

The third season of the excavation has finally come to an end, though archeologists painstakingly shouldered so many burdens. Pourbakhshandeh noted, "We managed to discover the very first grave in which a man and woman were buried together, indicating their wish to have an amorous burial. In another grave, we found the remains of a suckling babe."

He lamented the historical site is smuggler-infested and the police has failed to prove sufficient security for both the cemetery and the archeologists. The hill, mainly made of salt stones, is measured 192 meter in length and 115 in width and its height is just 6 meters. One of the tombs found there is strikingly similar to that of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire in Pasargadae.

Pourbakhshandeh prefers to call the artifacts from the "cultural period of gray pottery" production, instead of the Iron Age and argues the latter is still underway, while the former is the history.

... Payvand News - 7/15/04 ... --

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