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Bones of Dismembered Warriors Unearthed at Ancient Tul Talesh



12 October 2005


Archaeologists recently unearthed a great number of skeletons at the ancient site of Tul Talesh which are believed to be the remains of warriors who were dismembered and killed in battle, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Tuesday.

The skeletons were found without heads, feet, and hands in the cemetery of Tul Talesh, which covers an area of 350 hectares. Located 140 kilometers northwest of Rasht in Gilan Province, the cemetery is one of Iran’s unique ancient burial grounds. Tul Talesh dates back to circa 1000 BC.


“In a section of the cemetery, we discovered some skeletons buried with military equipment, including daggers and arrowheads; however, some of their body parts, such as heads, feet, and hands, are missing. The skeletons were found in graves of simple structure, unlike some other megalithic graves that had previously been found at the site. In addition, there are fewer artifacts buried with the bodies in comparison with the belongings found in the megalithic graves. The lower number of artifacts shows that the skeletons belong to persons of a lower class,” the director of the archaeological team working at the site said.


“We cannot talk with certitude in archaeology; we are only able to rebuild some parts of the history in this way. Thus, the evidence points toward the fact that the people buried in the graves were probably dismembered in war,” Mohammadreza Khalatbari added.


“We surmise that the bodies belong to a number of warriors killed in war and were buried based on a ritual common to the period. The inhabitants living in the region were neighbors of the Mannai kingdom and the powerful Urartu Empire,” he explained.


Experts have not been able to determine the ethnicity of Tul Talesh’s inhabitants so far.


Khalatbari announced on Monday that his team has unearthed skeletons of a man with military equipment and a woman wearing ornaments from a dolmen at Tul Talesh.


In addition, archaeologists recently discovered a cemetery dedicated solely to horses at the site.


Last year, they also discovered a cromlech at the site in which members of a family had been buried. The body of a woman with a golden goblet and a cuneiform inscription had been buried in the upper part of the cromlech.  


Relevant News: 

10 Oct: Remains of an Ancient Warrior with his Partner Discovered from Tul-Talesh Cemetery

09 Oct: Horses in Ancient Times Had Their Own Cemetery in Talesh