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Earliest Indications of Fretwork in Burnt City


05 December 2004

The discovery, in the excavations of the Burnt City, of two fretwork combs dating back to more than 5,000 years ago, has altered the hypothesis suggesting that was created in China and then conveyed to Iran during the Safavid era. Excavation work on the Burnt City was initiated in 1967 when Professor Maurizzio Tosi and his colleagues joined hands with Iranian archaeologists.

On the sidelines of an international archaeological conference in Iran, Dr. Mansour Sajjadi, archaeologist and the excavator of the Burnt City said: "On the blank handle of the comb fretwork figures have been installed, which are similar to the patterns and stairs drawn on the first period of settlement in the Burnt City (dating back to the Bronze Age in 5,000 years ago).

Relics unearthed in different archaeological excavations show that the Burnt City was a prosperous, large city some 5 millennia ago. Now, after all these eons, it is a mound 57 km south of Zabol, 8 to 12 meters high and covering an area of 2.5 sq. Km, in the shape of a triangle as seen from air.
Excavation work on the Burnt City was initiated in 1967 when Professor Maurizzio Tosi and his colleagues joined hands with Iranian archaeologists.

Later, in 1988-89, excavations were resumed by Dr. Sajjadi under the auspices of the Cultural Heritage Organization.

1) The outcome of the research so far is reflected in 170 books and papers in Persian, English, Italian, Japanese, German and Spanish, all of which have contributed to an immense change in the theories regarding human civilization.

According to excavations and researches, the Burnt City has come to be known as one of the most important proofs for the independence of the eastern part of Iran from Mesopotamia. Furthermore, based on relics found in the Burnt City buried unscathed under layers of salt and nitrate, archaeologists have come across objects such as rope, basket, cloth, insect larva, figernails and hair, seldom remaining in other archaeological sites.

Thus they have a complete series of evidence dating back to the early period of civilization. On the basis of interpreting theses proofs, they hold that the Burnt City was the most significant center of settlement, and in fact the whole region's social, economic, political, and cultural center, during the 3rd and 2nd millennia, BC.

2) One of the prominent relics found in the Burnt City is a skull that, according to anthropological studies, is the first evidence of brain surgeries in prehistoric Iran.

The skull was found in a mass grave in 1978 during excavations by the Italian team, lead by Maurizzio Tosi.

The skull belongs to a 13-14 year old girl whose illness was diagnosed as hydrocephalus by physicians of 4,800 years ago, and therefore operated on. The patient survived the operation for several months before passing away.

The death of the said individual is not known, and it is not clear whether she died of the post-surgery infection or of other causes.

Regarding the excavation sites and the results gained, Dr. Sajjadi said: "Memorial building (temple, palace, administration) are the most prominent relics of the first period of the settlement in the Burnt City."

Therefore, last winter the excavation team concentrated on those buildings. Some 27 excavations were made in that period." Based on the excavations made so far, two hypotheses are suggested: "Considering the objects found in the layers of the memorial building, the Burnt City covered an area of 15 acres in the first settlement period."

With more excavations, it would be possible to go back to periods older than 3,200 BC. Dr. Sajjadi said that some 500 objects were found in the excavation, including wooden objects, cloth, weaving equipment such as hooks, shoe lace, human and animal statuettes. The human figures are of great importance for the researchers. A 10-centimeter high clay human figure was found in the memorial site. It is probably the figure of a clergyman, for it has a modest disposition.

Two women figures were also found, each 4 centimeters high, the dress of one of whom is decked with rosy coins. Another statuette is of a sitting goddess with rosy coins on her apron.




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