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Iranian Archaeologists Bent on Solving the Mystery of the Death Caravanserai


News Category:

Islamic Period

 23 February 2004



A decapitated female skeleton, remains of a man and woman buried together and two other human remains handcuffed in their back and buried without observing common burial rituals. A crime scene from a top notch world fiction thriller or part of a historical site, perhaps a dungeon, or both?

The question hangs over a group of Iranian archaeologists who have started explorations in the Robat Karim Sangi Caravanserai in southern Tehran, in a bid to shed light on one of the most thrilling archaeological mysteries in Iran.

The site is a structure in western wing of Robat Karim, a working class town south of Tehran. Despite its rich historical tradition, it had until recently been abandoned and mostly used as a corral. It is called a caravanserai but the findings point to a darker side.

The studies got off to a start late last year with some 90 percent of the preliminary documentation works, including removing debris, stratification, mapping and photography and tracing the history of different parts of the structure, finished so far.

Head of the Tehran cultural heritage department Naser Pazuki who leads the exploration team said the evidence, including a large number of pottery pieces found, suggested the site dated back to the reign of the Saljuq dynasty some 900-1000 years ago.

"No evidence has emerged to support the theory that this place had been a caravanserai. But the findings indicate in all probability that it has been an industrial workshop," he noted.

Yet what has perplexed the archaeologists is the discovery of a number of human skeletons and remains in the site, all buried in an unusual way.

Remains of a man and woman buried stuck together, the decapitated skeleton of a woman and two human remains handcuffed in their back are ominous evidence that the place had once been a murky setting for committing horrendous crimes.

The early scientific findings suggest none of the remains belong to the contemporary times and more investigations are needed to come at an exact conclusion.

"There are another four human remains in a well in the site to study which requires special tools," Pazuki remarked.

The boring pits dug showed it has no older layers but given the fact that Robat Karim is dotted with historical hills and remains from the historical period, there is little doubt that the caravanserai has been associated with its surroundings in one way or another.



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