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Realism Perceptible in Ancient Artworks of Gohar-Tappeh: Expert 



04 October 2005


The influence of a kind of realism is perceptible in the artistic style of Gohar-Tappeh’s ancient humped bull statuettes, the director of the archaeological team working on the site said on Tuesday.


“The statuettes unearthed at this site indicate that a kind of religious thought was also dominant in the region during the first millennium BC. Despite the fact that abstract art was common in the region in this period, we clearly see a kind of realism and naturalism in these artifacts,” Ali Mahforuzi added.


Covering an area 40 hectares, Gohar-Tappeh is located near Behshahr in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran. Archaeologists believe that the large extent of the site shows the region had been very developed in trade and competed with neighboring areas.


Mahforuzi announced last week that the team had discovered a number of bull statuettes, although most were broken into fragments. They surmised that the artifacts date back to about 1000 BC and were used for religious ceremonies.


“One of the statuettes is intact. Its very realistic shape shows the expertise of its creator. The statuette has been baked very well and burnished, probably with a piece of cloth-like material, in order to give it a sparkling surface,” Mahforuzi explained.


“The skill used in the depiction of poses in the statuette is very impressive,” he added.


The statuette is bigger than other bull figures discovered at the site. Due to its size and the proficiency used in the creation of the statuette, archaeologists believe that it was made on special order for an upper-class person.


The bulls, called Verza and Junika in the dialect of Mazandaran, are still recognized as symbols of struggle and fecundity by the locals.


Ruins and other artifacts unearthed in the region indicate that the site dates back to the Iron Age, but further study is required to determine which era of the Iron Age.


Mazandaran is one of Iran’s archaeological poles. Studies show that the region has been inhabited for over 400,000 years. Urbanization is thought to have developed in the region some time around 3000 BC, and the new finds at the Gohar-Tappeh provide further evidence for this theory. The excavations, which aim to determine the style of urbanization of the site, will continue until late November. 


Unfortunately, poverty and the lack of guards have caused a rise in illegal excavations of Mazandaran’s ancient sites.


Mahforuzi had previously said that there are over 100,000 illegal excavation holes in the province which are frequently plundered by smugglers.  




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