Tuesday, May 02, 2006

3000-Year-Old Cemetery Discovered in Minab


Tehran, 2 May 2006 (CHN) -- An ancient cemetery belonging to the first millennium BC was discovered during archaeological excavations in Minab Plain, Hormozgan Province. All the corpse were buried in a horizontal position on the surface of a cliff although the direction towards which they were buried varies. Considering the large number of dirt hills in the area, archaeologists believe that burying the corpse on the cliff surface indicates the people’s belief in the holiness of soil in this area. Many of these graves had already been destroyed by illegal diggers.
“This season of excavations resulted in the discovery of a 100 hectare historical cemetery in the area. The graves of this cemetery have four layers and the corpses were put into a rock surface. After the burial was finished the graves were covered with a stone block on which a pile of rubbles were put in the form of a hill. These kinds of graves were called Hill Grave. The unique characteristic of this kind of cemetery is that the corpse was not buried in earth and a stone grave was constructed to put the dead body in it. While the surrounding area of this cemetery enjoyed a soft earth, the inhabitants of this area preferred not to bury their dead in the soil. We are not sure about the reason behind this but maybe it was because soil was a holly thing to them and they didn’t want to ruin it,” said Siamak Sarlak, archaeologists and head of excavation team in Minab and Roudan.
According to Sarlak, during the illegal excavations by the smugglers it has been revealed that the burial gifts were put above the head of the dead.
“The graves are not in a specified direction and we still don’t know why they were built so. However, some archaeologists believe that during this period the body was buried towards the sun, therefore the direction of the grave depended on the location of the sun in the sky at the time of burial,” explained Sarlak. Cliff burial was a common burial method during the Achaemenid era which lasted to the Sassanid period as well. However, during the Parthian era, catacomb burial was a prevalent burial method.
Minab Plain is one of the biggest plains in Hormozgan province, south of Iran, which has a lot of historical sites, some of which have been identified so far. Last year Iranian and British archaeologists found a town dating back to Parthian period while working on an archaeological site in Minab Plain.
Having a history of more than a hundred thousand years, the Minab Plain was the settlement of different groups of people in the course of history. The team of archaeologists in Minab is determined to identify the remaining historical sites in order to and provide the archeological map of this city.

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