TEHRAN, Dec. 13 (Mehr News Agency) - The director of the archaeological team working at the Jiroft ancient site in the Halil-Rud River cultural area told archaeologists on Wednesday to use the term Proto-Iranian instead of Proto-Elamite.
Yusef Majidzadeh argues that the inscriptions recently discovered at Konar-Sandal, a subsection of the Jiroft ancient site, and at some other ancient sites in Iran, are older than the oldest inscriptions like Inshushinak found at Elamite sites.
"The Inshushinak inscription was discovered by French archeologist and prehistorian Jacques de Morgan... The Frenchmen properly called its script Proto-Elamite due to the fact that the script was contemporary with Proto-Sumerian (early 3rd millennium BC), because it is common in archaeology that artifacts which are discovered at a site are labeled with the name of the site.
"The Frenchmen and consequently other people thought that the script had been invented in southwestern Iran, but archaeological studies on Sialk (in central Iran) during the 20th century, which still continue, show that the script is not confined to the Proto-Elamite people. Examples of the script were discovered at the ancient sites of the central-west regions, Tall-e Melian of Fars Province, Yahya Tepe in southeastern Iran, Shahdad, and Konar-Sandal.
"Since the number of inscriptions discovered at Susa is not comparable with similar discoveries at other ancient sites, Susa should be considered Iran's biggest ancient site in the southwest, which has been excavated numerous times over the past century. However, years of excavations of Shahdad, Yahya Tepe, and Konar-Sandal can not be counted on the fingers of one hand," Majidzadeh explained.
In light of all this, he asked, "Isn't it time to use Proto-Iranian or another comprehensive phrase instead of Proto-Elamite?"
In addition to two inscriptions discovered during the previous season of excavations at Konar-Sandal, Majidzadeh's team has also discovered two other inscriptions 300 meters away from Konar-Sandal in the yard of a village house during the current phase of excavations, which began in mid-October.
The inscriptions, one of which measures 18x10 and the other 13.5x8.5 centimeters, date back to the first half of the third millennium BC, but one of the artifacts is older. One of the inscriptions has 5 lines and the other has 6 lines on the front and both bear one line on the back.
French expert on Elamite studies Francois Vallat and two other international archaeologists, Jacob L. Dahl and Pewter Stein Claire, have observed photos of the inscriptions and believe they are in linear-Elamite.
"In the second half of the third millennium BC, Proto-Elamite script was replaced by the linear-Elamite script," Majidzadeh said.
The Inshushinak inscription was also written in linear-Elamite during the reign of Elamite king Inshushinak (2240-2220 BC), who wanted to end domination of the Akkadians over his territory, he added.
"Thus, Inshushinak used Proto-Iranian script, which was invented in another region of Iran, but since his people had forgotten the script over the centuries, they also stopped using it after the death of Inshushinak," Majidzadeh explained.
The Inshushinak inscription and the more intact inscription of Konar-Sandal each have five lines, but the Inshushinak inscription contains 51 pictographs, 29 of which occur only once with 22 repeating, while the Konar-Sandal inscription has 54 pictographs, 24 of which occur only once with 30 repeating. In addition, the Konar-Sandal inscription bears simple pictographs like triangles, rectangles, and circles, sometimes having a point in the center, but the pictographs of the Inshushinak inscription are more complicated.
"These differences show that the Konar-Sandal inscription is older than the Inshushinak inscription," Majidzadeh said in conclusion.
Located next to the Halil-Rud River in the southern province of Kerman, Jiroft came into the spotlight nearly five years ago when reports of extensive illegal excavations and plundering of the priceless historical items of the area by local people surfaced.
Since 2002, five excavation seasons have been carried out at the Jiroft site under the supervision of Majidzadeh, leading to the discovery of a ziggurat made of more than four million mud bricks dating back to about 2200 BC.
Many ancient ruins and interesting artifacts have been excavated by archaeologists at the Jiroft ancient site, which is known as the "archeologists' lost heaven".
After the numerous unique discoveries in the region, Majidzadeh declared Jiroft to be the cradle of art. Many scholars questioned the theory due to the fact that no writings or architectural structures had yet been discovered at the site, but shortly afterwards his team discovered inscriptions at Konar-Sandal Ziggurat, which caused experts to reconsider their views on the site.
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