Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
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Skeleton of a Woman Unearthed in Bistun
20 July 2006
(CAIS) -- A grave containing the skeleton of a woman was
discovered in Bistun Plain during archeological excavations in the area. This
skeleton was buried on her left side towards the south direction. This method of
burial belongs to the Iron Age III in Western Iran (800-600 BCE) which
coincides with Median Dynasty (728-550 BCE).
Anthropological studies on this skeletons revealed that it belongs to a 40-45
year-old woman. “This skeleton was discovered last year; however, due to
inappropriate climatic conditions we were not able to unearth it until recently.
Therefore, we deferred it to this year and succeeded in fulfilling the task
recently after preparing the required conditions,” said Maliheh Mehdi Abadi,
head of Bistun Mega Project.
According to her, the skeleton is currently being kept in the Bistun Center and
considering that there are no museums in the area which can provide good
conditions for keeping it, most probably the skeleton will remain in the Center
until it is restored. She also said that after the studies on this skeleton are
complete, it will be placed in a glass coffin to be displayed for public.
Along with this skeleton, two jars were also found which had been placed below
her legs. There were also three bronze dishes scattered around it, which have
been damaged over time. Mehdi Abadi believes that the existence of these objects
in the grave indicate that the Iranian of that time must have believed in the
Moreover, existence of 12 rings around the feet of the discovered skeleton in Bistun
Plain has faced archeologists with an unknown custom which might have existed at
the time of her death. Archeologists believe that these rings may show the
custom of using these kinds of jewelry by women during the Iron Age III.
However, it is not yet known whether they were being used during the life or
This discovery of the skeleton and its special belongings has raised new
questions about the exiting customs of the period. Among other objects found in
the grave were three rings which were used for tying the hair which shows that
the women plaited their hair and tied them with ring-shaped hairclips during the
ancient times. A spiral bronze ring can also be seen around the finger of this
Archeologists are also busy identifying three pillars of Khosrow Bridge in Bistun
Plain through geophysical studies.
“Now that Bistun was registered in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage
Sites, we are determined to carry out fundamental scientific studies in Bistun
Plain by implementing new methods. We are also determined to document and revive
sounding works of the previous years,” explained Mehdi Abadi.
Bistun historical site, located 30 kilometers northeast of Kermanshah, consists
of numerous valuable historical remains such as the Median Temple, Darius the
Great’ relief and frieze, post-Achaemenid statue of Hercules, and the Sasanid
monument of Bistun. It is considered a unique historical site in Iran. The most
important features of the complex are its Babylonian and Elamite cuneiforms.
Also Darius the Great' inscription which marks the birth of the ancient Persian
alphabet has been found in this ancient site.
On 13th of July 2006, Bistun was registered in the list of UNESCO’s World
Heritage Sites on a decision made by the World Heritage Committee on its 30th
session which was held from 8-16 July 2006 in Lithuania. Archeological findings
in the Bistun Plain, such as the skeleton of the woman found recently, show the
rich cultural heritage of the area.
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