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Burnt City’s Artificial Eyeball Presented in Rome


31 May 2007




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LONDON, (CAIS) -- As the first lecturer in exhibition of Beauties of Iran, Five Millennia of History which inaugurated on 21st of May in Rome’s Oriental Arts Museum, Dr. Mansour Sajadi, head of archaeological excavations in Burnt City (Shahr-e Sukhteh) gave a speech on the latest achievements of the discovered artificial eyeball in Burnt City during which he explained about the details of this unique discovery which according to archaeologists is one of the magic of the ancient world. 


“The initial studies on Burnt City’s artificial eye have come to an end which has brought into light some important information about this artificial eye. This eye which was found in grave number 6705 of Burnt City’s cemetery is a hemisphere object which was placed inside the left eye socket of a 28-32 years old woman. The initial anthropological studies on the skull of the woman revealed that evidence of an abscess was formed under the eyebrow and inside the left eye socket of this woman,” Sajadi told Persian service of CHN.


According to head of excavation team in Burnt City, considering the specific gravity of this object, it seems that the main material of this artificial eyeball is consisted of natural tar mixed with animal fat.


Referring to magnificent method practiced for making this artificial eye, Sajadi said: “Even the most delicate eye capillaries were drawn on this eyeball using golden wires with a thickness measuring less than half a millimetre. The pupil of the eye has been devised on the centre of the eyeball and there are also some parallel lines around the pupil forming a diamond shape.”


He further explained: “Very small spots of white colour can be seen on the white of the eye. It is a high possibility that the whole sclera was covered by this white colour and then little by little it was faded away over the time.”


Two holes were also created on the sides of this eyeball to hold it in the eye socket and according to head of the excavation team in burnt City, is seems that the leather bag which has been found inside a straw basket in the grave must have been a kind of eye glass holder which was used for holding the artificial eyeball in some cases for example sleeping times.


Regarding the other characteristics of this mysterious skeleton, Sajadi said: “Considering that the majority of females lived in Burnt City during ancient times were short, being 180 centimetres in height, this woman is known the tallest woman which has ever been identified in Burnt City.”


Pointing out that the discovered grave belongs to the residential areas of Burnt City dating back to 2900-2800 BCE, Sajadi believes that most probably this artificial eye must have been the most ancient one discovered so far.


In response to the questions regarding the origin of the discovered skeleton and whether it might have belonged to somebody who migrated to the Burnt City from other places, Sajadi strongly rejected all these misconceptions. “For sure the discovered skeleton belongs to one of the inhabitants of Burnt city. Since its physical characteristics show a difference with the local people of the Burnt City, we can consider the possibility that she was migrated from one of the southern Iranian-provinces to this region. However, considering the usage of tar in the artificial eyeball and the mastery of jewellers what we can say for sure is that the eye was made in this city.”


The exhibition of “Beauties of Iran, Five Millennia of History” has been organized by the joint cooperation of Iran’s Embassy in Rome and the Italian Ministry of Culture will run to 13 of June in Rome’s Oriental Arts Museum. 


On the sideline of the exhibition, a series of lectures was delivered about the position of women in the course of history with the title of women, from myth to reality. A number of Iranians’ women traditional dresses and jewels during ancient times have been put on public display in this exhibition.



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