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Archaeologists Not Sure About Origin of Discovered Persian Mummy


News Category:

Achaemenian Dynasty

30 December 2000 


ISLAMABAD The origin of the mummy recently discovered in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province (near Iran border) is still not clear, an archaeologist says. 


Sheikh Khurshid Hassan, former director of Archaeology Department, Karachi, after comparing the mummy with different cultures of ancient Iran, the era of Alexander the Great and the history of Baluchistan Province of Pakistan, said: "The origin of the mummy is still shrouded in mystery." Pakistani police had recently recovered the ancient  mummy, apparently from smugglers in Baluchistan Province, who had said they had found it in a ruined house in the historic Kharan Valley.

Later, the mummy was taken to Karachi and placed at the National Museum. However after discovering the mummy in October, the majority of experts announced that it belongs to Iran.


The Iranian Archaeological Department said that the mummy was of an ancient Iranian princess. The Pakistani archaeologist told the Pakistani daily, "The News" that he thoroughly studied the customs, symbols and scripts of the eras of Ahura Mazda, Zoroaster, Achaemenid, Sasanid, Darius the Great, ancient Iran Persia, Ossuaries, Alexander the Great, Cyrus, Naqsh-e Rostam, Cambyses, Median kings, the tombs of Rachi and Gawaching and several other historic legends and backgrounds. "The engravings on the wooden box, containing the mummy, depicting the figures of Ahura Mazda and fire altars gave an indication that the deceased was the follower of Zoroaster," Sheikh said.


In ancient Iran (Persia), two ruling dynasties, the Achaemenians and the Sassanians, were Zoroastrians. However, the archaeologist says: "It cannot be said with certainty as to whether or not the mummy belonged to Achaemenians or the Sasanid era." He said the golden plate affixed to the chest of the mummy is in cuneiform script. "The well known inscription of Darius the Great on the rock of Behistan is in cuneiform script," Sheikh said. However, he added that the fire altars are conspicuous by their absence on the Achaemenian seals. Besides, he said that originality of the wooden box, containing the mummy is also doubtful as wood is a perishable commodity and cannot survive for such a long period (2,500 years.)


"According to Grishman, Alexander the Great (by Iranians known as accursed Eskandar) saw the embalmed body of Cyrus placed on a golden coach. But from Darius onward, all the tombs of the Achaemenian sovereigns were cut in to cliffs of Naqsh-e Rostam," he added.

He says the Egyptian origin of the mummy is also doubtful as it does not contain the mask, which covers every Egyptian mummy.


"There is a thinking amongst some scholars that the origin of the mummy lies in Baluchistan. The study of the two storied domed mausoleum at Rachi and Gawaching in Kharan district reveals that a peculiar type of burial system based on Zoroastrian traditions was practised," the archaeologist said.



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