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Ancient Skeleton Unearthed with Bull-Horned Pendant at Gohar-Tappeh



10 October 2005


A skeleton of child and a bronze pendant with a bull-horn motif were unearthed at the ancient site of Gohar-Tappeh, the director of an archaeological team working on the site said on Monday.

“Children’s skeletons have previously been discovered at the site, but this one is more important because of the pendant found with the child in the grave. The artifacts discovered near the skeleton show that the child lived some time around 1000 BC,” Ali Mahforuzi told the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency.


The proximity of the ruins of architectural structures and a cemetery indicates that Gohar-Tappeh was a permanent settlement millennia ago.


Covering an area of 40 hectares, Gohar-Tappeh is located near Behshahr in the northern Iranian province of Mazandaran . 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 its specific period during the Iron Age.


Archaeologists believe that the large extent of the site implies that the region had been very developed in trade and competed with neighboring areas.


“The shape of the pendant shows that some ritual beliefs were common in the region, but we don’t know which part of the inhabitants’ beliefs the horn pedant relates to. For this is the only artifact ever found in a grave. Thus, whatever the beliefs were, it seems that only a small group of people practiced them,” Mahforuzi said.


A similar pendant which dates back to the late Bronze Age had previously been discovered at the Hessar Tepe near Damghan in the eastern Iranian province of Semnan .


Commenting on the fact that a number of bull statuettes were recently discovered at Gohar-Tappeh, Mahforuzi said, “Due to the distance between the places where the bull statuettes were found and the child’s grave, we believe that the two discoveries are not related to each other. However, further study is required to formulate a more consistent theory.”


On September 27, Mahforuzi announced that his team had discovered a number of bull statuettes, although most were broken into pieces. They surmised that the artifacts dated back to about 1000 BC and were used for religious ceremonies.


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


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 findings 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.




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