Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
of Wheat Grains Inside a Grave as a Burial Offering in Gohar Tepe
31 May 2006
(CAIS) -- Continuation of archeological excavations
in Gohar Tepe led to the discovery of a large amount of wheat grains inside a
grave placed in an oblation dish used as a burial gift.
Ali Mahforouzi, archeologist and head of excavation team in Gohar Tepe
historical site, believes that discovery of these wheat grains would reveal some
aspects of daiet habits of the inhabitants of Gohar Tepe during the Iron Age.
“Initial studies on the wheat grains which were discovered in a dish belonging
to the Iron Age show that they are domestic and similar to those already found
in Bronze Age layers. This new discovery might change some previous theories
about the lifestyle of the people of the Iron Age. While it is believed that the
inhabitants of that period had a nomadic life and were not settled in a
particular place and earned their livings mostly through animal husbandry,
discovery of grown domestic wheat in this area could be used as a proof to
claiming that the inhabitants of Gohar Tepe enjoyed permanent settlements during
the Iron Age and in addition to animal husbandry they produced grains as
well,” said Mahforouzi.
Offering gifts to the dead was a common practice during the ancient times. So
far, different kinds of burial methods have been discovered in Gohar Tepe
including jar burial, squat burial, fetal burial, etc. Burial gifts were seen in
most of the graves regardless of the method used for burial. However, the
philosophy behind some of these burial methods as well as the burial gifts is
still unknown to archeologists and required more comprehensive archeological
Regarding the religious practices of the Gohar Tepe inhabitants during the Iron
Age, Mahforouzi said, “What the people of this area practiced as their
religion is still a matter of controversy. However, considering the discovery of
some clay dishes containing the remains of the bones of some sacrificed animals
in the graves, most probably the empty dishes were filled with holly water or
other liquids at the time of burial, showing that the people of this region
believed in making offerings to the dead” added Mahforouzi.
Based on stratigraphical studies done over the past few decades on the site,
Gohar Tepe was an active center in the middle Bronze Age which was still alive
during the Iron Age. However, the most ancient cultural layers found in the area
belong to the Neolithic period, some 14,000 years ago, which are very similar to
those found in other regional states and Central Asia.
“The discovered evidence such as the existence of rural life and urbanization,
evidence of a flourished economy system, the existence of pottery workshops and
forges, stone and clay relics such as the statues of human beings and animals,
the remains of plant and animals in the region, and many more evidence found in
Gohar Tepe all indicate that this historic site is worth receiving a special
attention and support by the people and all the authorities especially the
Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of the country. Further excavations
in the region would result in a better understanding of the lifestyle of the
people who lived in the southern regions of the Caspian Sea,” added Mahforouzi.
Gohar Tepe historical site, with a 50 hectare area, is located in eastern parts
of Mazandaran province between the cities of Neka and Behshahr, north of Iran.
It is one of the most important historical sites of Mazandaran province located
near the Caspian Sea which carries the secret of an ancient civilization. It is
also believed that Gohar Tepe once enjoyed a complicated urbanization with a
history that goes back to some 5000 years ago.
According to the public relations office of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism
Office of Mazandaran province, Delavar Bozorgnia, director of this organization
is intending to change Gohar Tepe historical site into a museum site with the
cooperation of Ali Mahforouzi and other archeologists, to give tourists the
chance to observe closely the remains of the skeletons with their burial gifts
and other historical remains discovered in this site and feel themselves in the
atmosphere and historical context these objects belonged to. Also a clay oven
has been created near the ancient one to make clay objects similar to the
ancient ones for tourists to buy as souvenirs.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies