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Discovery of 108 Ancient Mass Graves in Burnt City


News Category: Prehistory (from 8000 - 3400 BCE)

 04 January 2006



Archaeologists unearthed more than 108 graves in the pre-historic cemetery of Burnt City during their latest excavations in the site. In some of these graves, three to eight bodies were buried.

Burnt City is one of the key historical sites of Iran. Some unique relics such as the animated figure of a wild mountain goat (Persian desert Ibex) 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. Different methods of burial were one of the issues which have attracted the special attention of archaeologists during the 9 seasons of excavations.

“900 square meter of the central part and surroundings of the Burnt City’s cemetery were unearthed during the 9th season of excavations in Burnt City, which resulted in discovering of some new information about the culture of the inhabitants of this historical site,” said Farzad Forouzanfar, anthropologist who is part of the excavation team of Burnt City.

Remaining of 144 skeletons have been discovered during this season of excavation. The bones of 28 of them have been destroyed completely and thus further anthropological studies would not be possible on them. From the remaining 116 discovered skeletons, 31 belong to males, 36 to females, 30 to children, 8 to infants and 11 of them are embryos.

“From the 108 discovered historical graves, 97 are individual graves, 5 of them contain two bodies, 2 of them are 3-person graves, and there are four other mass grave with four, five, six, and eight skeletons buried in them,” explained Forouzanfar.

According to Forouzanfar, the mass graves in which more than two bodies have been buried bear special importance in this season of excavation. Some of the discovered mass graves were family graves in which members of a family who died within a short period of time were buried.

Some new burial methods were discovered during this season of excavation such as supine position, one-side position, prostrate position, and supine position with parenthetical legs, which are very important in archeological and anthropological studies.
Such different methods of burial, together with the one-side position and squat position burials which were most common in Burnt City, indicate the coexistence of different cultures in the society.

Discovery of the intact skeletons of a 70-year-old woman and a young man in two different graves were also considered as the most important discoveries in this historical site.

Burnt City, situated in Sistan va Baluchistan province in southeast of Iran, is one of the most important pre-historic sites of the country. Nine 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.





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