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Unique Burial Style Identified at Burnt City


News Category: Prehistory (from 8000 - 3400 BCE)

 06 January 2006



The team of archaeologists currently working at the Burnt City unearthed two graves in which big bowls were used to cover the bodies of two stillborn fetuses, the Persian service of CHN reported on Friday.


The recent discovery has been a great surprise for the archaeologists since it is so different from the other graves at the site.


The Burnt City covers an area of 150 hectares and was one of the world’s largest cities at the dawn of the urban era. It was built circa 3200 BC and destroyed some time around 2100 BC. The city had four stages of civilization and was burnt down three times. Since it was not rebuilt after the last blaze, it has been named the Burnt City.


Archaeological Research Center of Iran (ARCI) anthropologist Farzad Foruzanfar said that the discoveries were made during the ninth stage of excavations at the cemetery of the ancient city.


“Of the eleven buried stillborn fetuses, two were buried differently. That is, after digging the grave, the fetus was put inside and then an earthen bowl was placed over the fetus to avoid direct contact with soil,” he added.


Foruzanfar stated that the British expert in environmental archaeology, Dr. Chris Lorentz from the University of Newcastle, has noted that no such burial has been observed in East Asia. She added that this burial tradition was quite different from other areas, where the fetus was placed inside a bowl.


According to Lorentz, a similar burial method has only been observed in Turkmenistan.


Experts believe that mothers in the ancient city may have suffered from malnutrition at one period of time, as the initial studies on the skeletons of the stillborn fetuses suggest.


The archaeologists have taken several possibilities into consideration, with malnutrition being the general consensus so far.


Malnutrition is one of the most important factors which causes problems in the growth of fetuses and consequently causes stillbirths, Foruzanfar had said shortly after the discovery.


Yet, no evidence clearly supports the malnutrition assumption and further study of the matter is necessary.


Over 400 graves were discovered during the eight previous phases of excavations at the city-state.





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News Source: Mehr News

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