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Discovery of the First Prostrate Figure Burial in Burnt City


News Category: Prehistory (from 8000 - 3400 BCE)

 25 December 2005



The prostrate figure burial of a young man were unearthed for the first time during the archeological excavations in the historical site of Burnt City (Shahr-e Sukhteh) which has surprised archaeologists who were faced with such a strange burial method. It seems that the young man died when he was lying prostrate on the floor some 5,000 years ago in the Burnt City and was buried in the same position.

Burnt City is one of the key historical sites of Iran. Some unique relics such as the animated figure of a goat on a clay barrel, which is believed to be the first animation work in the history of the world, and a very unique backgammon, which is also believed to be the oldest one in the world, have been discovered in this historical site during the archeological excavation.

Burnt City, situated in Sistan va Baluchistan province in southeast of Iran, is one of the most important pre-historic sites of the country. Eight seasons of archaeological excavations in the site indicate that Burnt City was an important center of civilization and trade some 5,000 years ago. Burnt City is regarded as a crucial historical site in the eastern Iranian plateau.

Different methods of burial were one of the issues which have attracted the special attention of archaeologists during the 9 seasons of excavations.

“During the archaeological excavations, we were faced with a grave and in a surprise we noticed that the corpse was buried in a prostrate position,” said Farzad Forouzanfar, director of the Anthropological Research Center of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran.

According to Forouzanfar, it is the first time such method of burial has been observed in a cemetery of a historical site.

Squad, supine and side positions were the most common burial methods found in pre-historic cemeteries belonging to the first millennium BC. Thus, this is the first time archaeologists have faced such kind of burial.

“This skeleton belongs to a 35-year-old man, which died for a reason still unknown to us. A clay dish and a whetstone were buried alongside him which most probably were his work instruments,” explained Forouzanfar.

Since such a method of burial had never been seen before, either in the Burnt City or in any historical site, we can not yet determine the reason for such kind of burial. However, the evidence indicates that this 35-year-old man must have been died in this position while suffering a severe pain, and since the corpse was dried its shape could not have been changed and was buried in the same position,” added Forouzanfar about the reason for the prostrate form of burying.

Burnt City is regarded as the “Mother City” of the eastern half of Iran’s Plateau. The archaeological excavations in this historical site indicate that this city was a main cultural route between the west and east of Asia, a crucial historical site of the eastern Iran plateau.

The Burnt City was one of the world’s largest cities at the dawn of the urban era. The city had four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times. Since it was not rebuilt after the last time it was set on fire, it got the name “The Burnt City”.

Source: CHN




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