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Iran's Biggest Prehistoric Site Discovered in Bam

By Soudabeh Sadigh

A prehistoric site, almost twice bigger than the Burnt City, has been discovered near the city of Bam, most probably belonging to 5000-6000 years ago. The blade of a bronze axe and statuette of a cow made of burnt brick are among the discoveries in the area.

Bam Citadel, once the biggest clay structure of the
world before the massive earthquake of Dec. 2003
destroyed its major parts

Tehran, 17 December 2006 (CHN) -- Archeological excavations near the city of Bam, Kerman province, led into discovery of the biggest prehistoric site ever found in Iran. The site is almost twice bigger than the Burnt City which prior to the new finding was believed to have been the biggest prehistoric site in Iran. Archeologists believe that the newly discovered area is dated back to sometime between the end of the fourth millennium BC and the beginning of the third millennium.

The discovery was made during archeological excavations in the vicinity of Bam Citadel aimed at identifying the residential areas and their cultural sequence and determining their cultural chronology and relations with the neighboring areas.

The archeology team, consisted of archeologists Narges Ahmadi, Shahram Zareh, and Mohammad-Taghi Atayi, is also determined to detect the history of Bam during different periods of time and find out how the Bam Citadel flourished and why the Citadel was always considered important over the course of history. The archeologists are also hoping to trace early history of Bam to see whether it was originated during the Elamite Kingdom (3400 BC-550 BC) or other Persian dynasties.

"Discovery of a pre-historic site in Bam area is not an extraordinary event. Such residential areas can still be found buried in different parts of Iran. However, what is more surprising about the new finding is the huge size of this prehistoric site which is about twice bigger than the Burnt City which had previously been recognized as the largest prehistoric site in Iran. The area of Bam's prehistoric site exceeds 300 hectares whereas that of the Burnt City (including the settlement area, the industrial region and the cemetery) barely surpasses 180 hectares," said Shahram Zare, an archeologist with Bam Research Center to CHN.

Although the core of the historic site of Burnt City, located in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan va Baluchestan, is said to be about 180 hectares, its cultural domain was found to have reached beyond 300,000 hectares from its central core.

Zareh also said that during their studies, archeologists are also trying to unveil the historical background of the prehistoric site near Bam based on the historic and archeological evidence discovered in the area: "Considering the large numbers of potsherds discovered in the area, drawing a chronological comparison would not be a difficult task. However, there still exist many ambiguities in this respect. The designs on the potteries show very little similarity to those discovered in the nearby areas such as Bampour, Eblis, Yahya, and Fars."

According to Zareh, a number of these designs somehow resemble those previously found in Fars province dating back to the Bacon era (the fifth and fourth millennia BC) and a greater number of them are very similar to those discovered in Aliabad, west of Kerman province. However, considering all the existing evidence observed during archeological excavations in the area, archeologists believe that most probably this prehistoric site is dated back to the end of the fourth millennium to the beginning of the third millennium BC.

This is the second prehistoric site ever found in the vicinity of Bam. The first discovery goes back to a few years ago, reported by Shahriar Adl in the vicinity of Bam, most parts of which were covered with low-height hills.

Large numbers of engraved clay fragments were also found scattered in the area. Archeologists assume that these hills were once the main settlement center in this area. "The area is full of prehistoric potshards, most of which have a yellowish-brown color and were well-baked. Very strong materials were used for making these hand-made clays. Existence of clays which were baked into glass due to the intense heat indicates that they were more likely produced in the same area they have now been found."

The discovered potsherds in this prehistoric site can generally be categorized into two main groups of simple and engraved clays with geometric, plant, and animal designs. While large numbers of clay fragments found are engraved, no particular design is seen on big jars and pots made in this prehistoric site. The potteries were mostly covered with black color and only one color was used in their designs.

In addition to these potsherds, some stone dishes have also been discovered in the area, the majority of which were made of marble stones. Only one soapstone bowl, from which not much has remained intact, has been seen in the area with a design similar to those discovered in the historic and prehistoric sites of Jiroft, also in Kerman province.

According to Zareh, the blade of a bronze axe and part of a clay statuette of a cow are among other prominent discoveries in the area.

... Payvand News - 12/18/06 ... --

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