(CAIS) -- The first catacomb belonging to the Islamic
era, which was used as a safekeeping place for the dead,
was discovered in Manjil during the excavations in the
east bank of Sefidrud River in Gilan province. Most
probably this catacomb dates back to the Ilkhanid era, the
English service of CHN reported on Wednesday, January 25.
Since the Parthian dynastic era, catacombs were built most
often on the ways of caravans in Iran. These catacombs
were used as a place for temporarily keeping of the dead.
Whenever one of the members of a caravan died during the
trip, his or her body would be “kept as a trust” in
these catacombs and on their way back the caravan would
pick it up to bury the body in a cemetery. The chilly
weather of the catacombs, which were built inside the
mountains, prevented the decay of the corpse.
“This catacomb was discovered during excavations in the
east back of Sefidrud River which started recently to
determine the route of Qazvin-Anzali railway. Some parts
of this catacomb, which must have belonged to the Ilkhanid
era, had already been unearthed during the illegal
excavations, and the rest of it was dug up by the
excavation team currently active on the site,” said Vali
Jahani, an archeologist from the Cultural Heritage and
Tourism Organization of Gilan province.
“large 3x1 or 3x1.5 meter stones, stuck together by
mortar, were used in the construction of this catacomb.
How such huge pieces of stones were dug from the mountain
and transferred to this area is still a mystery to us.
Today large capacity cranes are needed to lift such big
stones. Most probably during the ancient times the stones
were transferred to this area by several strong men,”
The rectangular-shaped catacomb discovered in Manjil has
one entrance. During the Parthian era, catacombs were
called “cubbyhole graves”. Today a large number of
cubbyhole graves can be seen in different parts of Iran.
Archeologists believe that there might still be more
catacombs on the basin of Sefidrud River and are
conducting more archeological excavations in order to find