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Iran
Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies
ISSN: 0578-6967 (Print) 2396-9202 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rirn20
Excavations at Shahr-i Sokhta First Preliminary
Report on the Excavations of the Graveyard,
1997?2000
S.M.S. Sajjadi, F. Foruzanfar , R. Shirazi & S. Baghestani
To cite this article: S.M.S. Sajjadi, F. Foruzanfar , R. Shirazi & S. Baghestani (2003) Excavations
at Shahr-i Sokhta First Preliminary Report on the Excavations of the Graveyard, 1997?2000, Iran,
41:1, 21-97
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/05786967.2003.11834625
Published online: 23 Mar 2017.
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Date: 25 October 2017, At: 03:22
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
FIRST PRELIMINARY REPORT ON THE EXCAVATIONS OF THE
GRAVEYAFUD, 1997-2000
By S.M.S. Sajjadi
(With contributions by F. Foruzanfar, R. Shirazi and S. Baghestani)
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Iranian Cultural Heritage Organisation and University of Sistan and Baluchistan
until 1978, obtaining brilliant results, which have already
been published. 3 The second cycle of investigations, by
ICHO, began in 1997 and is still ongoing. 4
The Iranian Archaeological Expedition began its
work by studying the graveyard in 1997. During the
third campaign, in 1999, the Monumental Area was
examined, while the fourth campaign, in 2000, saw the
excavation of the eastern portion of the Eastern
Residential Area. Finally, during the sixth campaign,
which lasted from October to December 2002, the work
was extended to the north-western area of the site, close
to the Craftsman Quarters. s
The graveyard was discovered quite fortuitously in
1972 (Piperno 1977: 137), and was excavated until1978
under the direction of M. Piperno (Piperno & Tosi 1974;
Piperno 1977, 1979, 1986: Piperno & Salvatori l983).1t
has been estimated to cover an area of 20-25 ha. The
Italian mission excavated an area of almost 3,000 sq.m.
uncovering about 230 graves. On the basis of the
concentration and density of the graves, approximately
one in every 12 sq.m., the graveyard has been estimated
to contain about 18,000 graves (Bonora eta/. 2000: 495). 6
The graveyard is located in the south-western portion
of the site in a uniform and alluvial terrain, where there
are, apparently, no other archaeological remains. This
area is separated from the urban part by a large and deep
alluvial and unifom'l drain. The graveyard is divided into
three main sections; northern, central and southern parts.
The excavations of the Italian expedition were mainly
carried out in the northern and central parts, with some
scattered trenches in other directions (Piperno 1977:
115). The Iranian Expedition concentrated its work
mainly in the central part with a few limited test trenches
in the northern and southern sections.
The ground surface of the northern section of the
graveyard contains tiny gravels, mainly covered by a
layer of salty terrain mixed with soft sand. Below this
surface level, there is a layer of solidified crust of sandclay and salt, of approximately 15-20 em., lying above
Shahr-i Sokhta (Burnt City), with its exceptional
extension of c. 151 ha., is located 56 km. south of Zabol
on the road that leads to Zahedan in the province of
Sistan and Baluchistan (Fig. 1), one of the most arid
areas in the eastern part of the Iranian Plateau (Biscione
eta/ 1977: 74). The city owes its existence during the
fourth and third millennium B.C. to the Hyrmand River,
and the site, among the largest proto-historical ones of
the whole Iranian plateau, is found on the highest point
of the northern part of its ancient delta, on the strip of the
Ram Rud terrace. 1
Almost 120 ha. of the site are covered with different
cultural materials, mostly pottery fragments, with a high
concentration in the eastern section. The site reached its
peak extension during period II, at almost 80 ha. (ibid.,
81-82). The area of the Burnt City has been divided into
three main parts by the Italian Expedition (ibid.), although
a more detailed division takes this number to five:
l. The Eastern Residential Area, located on the highest
point of the site.
2. The Great Central Area, or Central Quarters,
separated from the western, southern and eastern
areas by deep depressions.
3. The Craftsman Quarters, found in the north-western
part of the site.
4. The Monumental Area, located east of the Craftsman
Quarters with several high hills representing
different architectural buildings (Mariani 1990).
5. The Graveyard Area, which occupies the southwestern part of the site covering almost 25 ha. The
estimated number of graves ranges between 25000
and 40000 (Fig. 2).
The site was first discovered and investigated by Sir
Aurel Stein in the early decades of the last century. 2 In
1967 a group of archaeologists of IsMEO (now IsiAO),
under the direction of Maurizio Tosi, began new
extensive excavations and investigations (Jung 2001:
XVIII). The first and immediate findings were
surprising, and the Italian Expedition continued working
21
22
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
6l
,
IIIIJLake
....................
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...
0.
-
Seasonal swamp
-Swamps
f-~::-1 Recent Delta
0
Iran
?
........,
и-и-и- ____
и-и-.
.,
Protohistorical Delta
Protohistorical sites
..-
и.............
Fig. I. Sistan: Shahr-i Sokhta and Dahaneh-ye Qolaman (Modified afier Fairservis 1961).
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
23
MONUMENTAL AREA
CRAFI'SMEN QUARTERS
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CENTRAL QUARTERS
RESIDENTIAL AREA
GRAVEYARD
BURNT BUILDING AREA
N
...
... ... ...
FLINT/CHERT PRODUCTION AREAS
... ...
II
0
II II tII
SETTLEMENT AREAS
IIIII II
1:1:111 GRAVEYARD
=
CRAFTSMEN QUARTERS
F?:_-:;:;.:;
FLINT/CHERT PRODUCTION AREAS
Fig.2. Shahr-i Sokhta (modified after Mariani 1989).
SOOm
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
24
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another layer of solid clay. The depth of the graves in
this part of the graveyard is between 80 and 100 em. The
central portion of the graveyard differs from the other
parts, as its surface is covered by a 25-30 em. layer of
middle sized gravel. Below this level lies a very soft
sand layer, deposited on a hard and solidified gravel
layer mixed with salt. The graves of this section are
found at this depth. Graves discovered within this
solidified layer are usually badly, damaged and their
recovery is difficult, however those found in the soft
sand layer below this level, are well preserved.
RECENT EXCAVATIONS AT THE GRAVEYARD
During the campaigns from 1997 to 2000, a total of
19 squares, c. 880 sq.m., were excavated in different
parts and directions of the graveyard, bringing to light a
total of 13 7 graves. 7
In order to find out the boundaries of the graveyard,
square IRS was opened in the most northern part, while
squares BIT and GTS were opened in the south and
south-western parts. The ground of the graveyard in the
northern section has a gentle slope linked to a deep gully
cut, and after the rain the water quickly ofiloads, and
evaporation is extremely fast. On the surface of the
terrain of this section, a thick and solidified crust has
formed. Salt and other sediments have badly damaged
the skeletal remains and the grave goods of this section.
Consequently, the state of preservation of the graves in
this part of the graveyard is not satisfying. Several
squares were examined, including square GTS in the
southern part of the graveyard, next to square GIT, that
had already been excavated by the Italian expedition.
We also examined the small square BIT, found in one of
the highest points of the south-western part of the
graveyard, near the dry bed of the Hamun Lake. Finally,
two more squares, HMY with one grave, and HRJ with
four graves, in the south and in the south-west, but very
near the Central Section, were also examined.
The third and main section investigated is close to
the northern part of the graveyard, named as the central
section due to the number and variety of graves, which
are greater than those of other sections. The main
squares of this section are IUA, IUK, IUF, lUG and IUL.
The ground surface is flat and lacks any kind of cultural
material. Here are the most interesting graves, from a
structural point of view and with the best furnishings.
Moreover, these graves and grave goods are better
preserved than those on the northern section. This part of
TABLE I. Excavated trenches 1997-2000.
Trench/
Square
BTT
GTS
HMY
HRJ
HTR
HYE
HYJ
HYN
IPB
IPL
IRS
IUA
IUB
IUC
IUF
lUG
IUK
Year of
Trench. No. Area sq.m.
Excavation
1997
2100
6.25
I997
2000
25
I997
1800
25
I997
I900
25
1998
2700
25
1998-2000
2500
IOO
2000
2900
6.25
1998
2600
25
1998
2300
25
1998
2200
6.25
1997
1100
30
1997-2000
1700
100
1997
1200
25
1997
1300
25
1998
2800
100
1997-98
1400
100
1997, 1999-2000
1600
100
IUL
NAB
1997-98
1998
1500
2400
100
6.25
No. of
Graves
I
I
I
3
4
I7
4
3
3
0
3
19
2
2
13
19
17
No. of
Skeletons
I
5
I
3
6
17
4
3
6
0
4
19
2
2
13
25
17
22
2
28
2
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
EJ
1412
1416
@
1410
CJ
1413
25
1403ab"'@
~
~
1402
0
1405
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~406
~
~
~~
140B.ab
@
1409
1414
<.._p
~Gf? '~'
0
1415
1407
c«
1400
1400.a
1400.b-c
1404.ab
a. lUG Square
1506
[Д r;
1513
~[58
(:::3 ""
0
""
G
\.'J., ,.,.
~ ~ c:.:-~
,':'~
0
N
1504
@
«@~
,., v
r.J@ '~ ~'~Д«
v
1503
1515
1517
1502
1602
1512
1512a
1512b
505
b. IUL Square
2m
-~=~
Fig. 3. Graves at Shahr-i Sokhta.
Q
Typel
8Type2
9
Type4
0
Type9
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26
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
the graveyard contains both archaic and late graves. The
excavations in the central part of the graveyard show
that this section, particularly during the middle of the
third millennium, was the most important and wealthy
one of the graveyard.
It has already been mentioned that during the
1997-2000 campaigns a total of 19 trenches with areas
ranging from 6.25 to 100 sq.m. were excavated. One of
these, IPL (6.25 sq.m.) was empt):'. The trenches with at
least one grave are IUA, IUF, IUd, IUL, IUK and HYE,
each one measuring 100 sq.m.; IRS, 30 sq.m.; HTR,
HYN, IPB, IUB, IUC, HMY, HRJ and GTS, 25 sq.m.;
IPL, BTT, HYJ and NAB, 6.25 sq.m. (Fig. 3).
Grave Structures
Five different types of grave structure were found
during the first year (Piperno & Tosi 1974: 125-26).
Later, this number was extended to eight (Piperno 1986,
Tavola XV). In addition, a ninth type was discovered
during the second phase of excavations by the Iranian
expedition8 (Fig. 4). The main types of graves are:
Simple pits. This grave type can have different
geometrical lay-outs of rectangular, circular and oval
shapes; often there is no distinguishable shape. They
are dug into the ground at a depth that ranges from a
few em. to more than 150 em. Because of erosion, it
is often hard to detect the original shape, depth, other
measurements and the correct orientation. Generally,
the skeleton and the objects are found in the same
level, next to each other, but there are a few
exceptions, with the objects and the inhumed body set
at different levels. A total of 40 graves of Shahr-i
Sokhta belong to this type. Except for four graves
having more than one skeleton, all the other simple
pits contain only one. The average number of grave
goods ranges from 0 to 12 with the exception ofiUA
1707 with 48 objects. Chronologically, 6 graves
belong to period I, 14 to period II, 1 to period III, 3 to
period IV and 16 graves are undetermined (Fig. 5: a).
2 Bipartite pits. This grave type is similar to the
previous one; the main difference being a mudbrick
wall consisting of one to eight rows of mudbricks
which divide the pit into two different parts. Human
bodies and grave goods are placed on one side of the
pit, while the other section, except in rare cases, i.e.
IUA.l709, remains empty. There is no evidence to
show the reason for these walls. According to
Piperno, one reason may have been to protect the
inhumed body and the furnishings from the fall of
gravel (Piperno 1977: 122). However, since these
walls also exist in the parts of the graveyard where
the ground is not loose and there is no threat of
gravel fall, the reason remains uncertain, unless we
consider ideologicaVritual traditions. Most graves, a
total of 82, belong to this type. Except for a few
graves containing up to five human skeletons, all
other graves only have one human. The average
number of the objects found in this type of grave
ranges from 0 to 8, rising to 18-20. Chronologically
38 graves are attributed to period I, 26 to period II, 3
to period III, 1 to period IV and 14 are undetermined
(Figs. 6: a-b; 7: a-b; 8: a-b).
3 Pseudo Catacombs. This grave structure is extremely
similar to the catacombs of type 4. The main
difference is the height of the closing wall (ibid.,
141 ). No such grave was found during the second
cycle of excavations.
4 Catacombs. This grave type has vertical, rectangular
shaped pits with various depths and an elliptical
chamber opening to one of the long sides of the
vertical shaft connecting it to the underground
chamber. The floor of the chamber is lower than the
floor of the vertical shaft. After the inhumation the
entrance of the underground chamber was closed by
a mudbrick wall, and the vertical shaft was filled up.
This grave type was used for both individual burials
(IUG.1405, IUK.l615, IUA.l705 and IUF.2802)
and multiple burials (IUG.l400 and IUG.l404).
According to Piperno ( 1979: 125), this type of grave
was mainly built for family groups. While the
passage connecting the shaft and chamber of pseudocatacombs is marked by one or two rows of
mudbricks, the entrance doors of catacombs are
completely closed. It seems that this type of
imposing grave belongs to a distinguished class of
society, as seen by the grave structure, and from the
quality and quantity of grave goods.
The skeleton and the goods are disposed on the
floor of the chamber, while the vertical pit usually
remains empty, although in one case, IUG.l400, a
number of vessels were placed inside it.
Six graves of this type were found during the
excavations. 9 The number of grave goods in this
particular type is very high. A total of 354 objects
have been found in six graves, from a minimum of
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
Fig. 4. Typology of grave structures.
27
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
28
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@@
@)
a. IUA 1705
~
N
I
Oc:=:::JI-I:::::=:J--=::::=:JIOcm
Fig. 5. Graves at Shahr-i Sokhta.
b. lUG 1403
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
5
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6
7
8
9
20 (IUF.2802) to a maximum of 101 (IUG.l404).
Chronologically these grave types are attributed to
the period that goes from the last phases of period II
to the early phases of period IV, or to late period III.
(Figs. 7: a, c; 8: b).
Rectangular mudbrick structures. Rectangular pits
with mudbrick walls on four sides of the pit. This
grave type is extremely rare (Piperno I977: 141). No
grave of this type has been found by the Iranian
expedition. и
Square mudbrick structures. This type differs from
the previous one only by its geometrical shape
(ibid.). No grave of this type has been found by the
Iranian expedition.
Square shaped graves with two mudbrick walls. Two
walls are built with mudbricks, while the other two
are dug into the ground. This grave type is very rare
(ibid.). No grave of this type has been found by the
Iranian expedition.
Circular mudbrick structures. Only one grave of this
type has been discovered. The round wall is built
with mudbricks (Piperno I986, Tavola XV). No
grave of this type has been found by the Iranian
expedition.
In addition to the above-mentioned eight grave
types, a new type was found during the recent
excavations. It consists of a circular pit, similar to the
simple pit graves (type I), differing by a closed
entrance . This is similar to the mudbrick wall used
to close the entrance of the catacomb doors. Four
graves of this type, three in square IUL, one in square
lUG, have been found very near to each other. Two
graves, IUL.l502 and IUL.l505 contain one human
skeleton, while the other two, IUL 1514 and lUG
1403, have two human skeletons. Between 5 and 19
goods were placed inside each grave.
Chronologically three graves are attributed to period
I and lUG 1403 to period III (Fig. 5: b; Fig. 6: c).
According to the material published by the Italian
expedition, types I to 4 were common forms, as
confirmed by the results obtained by the Iranian
expedition. Types five to eight were very rare and only
five graves were found: two of the sixth type, and one
each of the fifth, seventh and eighth type (ibid.).
The main material used in the grave structures is
mudbrick. Mudbricks are used for the walls of bipartite
graves. The surrounding walls of the graves consist of
six to eight rows of mudbricks. They are also used to
29
close the interconnecting doors of grave types 3, 4 and
9. The type and shape of these bricks is more or less
similar to those from the residential areas. Three
different sizes of brick are found at the graveyard: 20 x
20 x 10 em., 50 x 25 x 10 em. and 40 x 20 x 10 em. The
first two types are rarely used, as the third is the standard
one. In each grave only one type of brick was used.
Exceptions to this are HTR 2700, HTR 270I, with two
different mudbrick types, and HMY I800, where there
are three different sizes ofmudbrick: 40 xIS xIS, 25 x
I 0 x 9 and 40 x 30 x I3 em. But HRJ I900, on the other
hand, has 40 x IS x I 0 em. bricks. In addition to
mudbricks, matting is used as well, usually to cover the
grave's floor, although in one case, HTR 2700, matting
in excellent condition covered one of the grave's walls
(Fig. 9).
Normally, graves are not marked, e.g. by grave
stones, although some evidence found during the
I997-2000 excavations indicates the presence of grave
marks in a few burials. In some cases these were in the
form of one or more mudbricks. Well documented
examples are found in HTR 2703 (Fig. 8: a, c) and in
IUA I703. The first grave was marked by a number of
pottery vessels arranged like a column, c. 80 centimeters
above the burial. The second grave was marked by the
stone tools of a craftsman which had been placed about
25-30 em. above it.
The structural differences between the various types
of graves are not due to the sex or age of individuals,
except for infants who are mostly buried in simple pits
(type 1), but there do seem to be differences in the social
status and religious tradition of the individuals buried.
As well as ritual manifestations, the presence of some
grave types, e.g. bipartite ones and catacombs, could be
interpreted as a reflection of the funerary practices of the
land of origin of the inhumed. Bipartite graves are found
from the seventh mjllennium onwards in Mehrgareh in
northern Baluchistan, while catacombs appear during
the fourth millennium in Turkmenistan (ibid., 263).
METHOD OF INHUMATION
The graves at Shahr-i Sokhta could be described as
irregular and non-uniform. Everything lacks uniformity:
the shape of the graves, the inhumation, the typology of
grave structures, the direction of the graves and
orientation of the inhumed, and the arrangement of
grave goods. The graves are dug and structured in all
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JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
31
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32
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
33
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
/
/
/
''
_,..E. ,_..;.-------~
- -:_ _- -~:;.... ~~=--=~~
. -==-- . -и
Fig. 9. Layout of mudbricks in bipartite graves.
и---
-
....-
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
34
Grave No.
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1100
1101
1102
1200
1201
1300
1301
1400
1400/a
1400/b-c
1401
1402
1403/a-b
1404/a-b
1405
1406
1407
1408/a-b
1409
1410
1411
1412
1413
1414/a-b
1415/a-b
1416
1500/a--c
1501/a-b
1502
1503
1504
1505
1506
1507
1508
1509
1510
1511
I 512/a--c
1513
1514/a-b
1515
1516
1517
1518
Square
Grave Type
No. of Skeletons
No. of Objects
Period
I
I
I
I
I
I
12
I
4
II
II
II
II
IRS
IRS
IRS
IUB
IUB
IUC
I
I
2
2
I
IUC
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
2
4
4
4
2
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
I
9
4
4
I
I
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
lUG
I
lUG
lUG
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
2
2
I
2
2
I
2
2
2
2
9
2
2
I
I
I
I
2
I
I
2
2
I
I
I
2
I
I
I
I
I
2
2
I
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
I
3
2
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
2
2
9
2
2
3
I
2
I
I
IUL
IUL
2
2
I
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
IUL
9
I
I
I
I
I
I
7
9
14
I
63
12
13
0
I
6
101
24
0
0
10
0
8
0
7
6
II
0
7
3
6
5
I
3
19
0
0
0
I
I
I
3
I
5
7
8
7
2
I
I
?
IV
IV
III?
?
?
III
Ill
II
?
?
IV
?
I
?
I
I
I
?
I
II
I
I
?
IV
I
?
?
?
II
I
?
II
?
I
I
I
I
IV
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
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Grave No.
Square
Grave Type
35
No. of Skeletons
No. of Objects
Period
1519
IUL
I
I
9
I
1520
I
I
8
1521
IUL
IUL
I
I
4
I
I
1600
IUK
I
I
8
1601
IUK
2
I
8
1602
IUK
2
I
18
1603
1604
IUK
2
I
2
IUK
2
I
5
1605
IUK
2
I
20
II
II
II
II
I
II
?
II
I
?
II
II
?
I
I
1606
!UK
2
I
0
1607
IUK
2
I
3
1608
!UK
2
0
I
1609
IUK
I
I
0
1610
1611
IUK
I
I
IUK
?
I
5
4
1612
IUK
I
I
0
1613
IUK
2
I
6
1614
IUK
2
I
3
1614/a
IUK
2
I
4
I
1615
1700
IUK
4
I
56
IUA
2
I
8
2
I
3
1702
IUA
IUA
2
I
3
Ill
II
II
II
1703
IUA
2
I
7
1704
IUA
2
I
6
1705
IUA
4
I
IUA
2
I
65
12
IV
1706
1707
IUA
I
I
48
Ill
1708
IUA
2
0
13
I
1709
IUA
2
I
7
I
1710
IUA
2
I
6
1711
IUA
I
I
I
1712
1713
IUA
I
IUA
2
I
I
5
II
1714
IUA
I
I
0
1715
IUA
2
I
'0
1716
IUA
2
I
II
1717
IUA
2
I
8
1718
IUA
2
I
8
1800
HMY
2
I
1900
1901
HRJ
HRJ
2
?
I
I
3
10
I?
1902
HRJ
2
I
I?
2000/a--e
GTS
2
2100
BTT
2
5
I
2
II
II
IV
I
?
?
I
I
I
II
I
?
?
II
II
2200
2300/a-b
IPL
-
-
-
-
IPB
?
2
0
?
2301
IPB
I
6-8?
0
?
1701
8
I
I
I
36
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
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Grave No.
Square
Grave Type
No. of Skeletons
No. of Objects
Period
2302
IPB
2
I
4
II
2400
2401
NAB
2
I
4
II
NAB
HYE
2
I
4
I?
2500
I
I
I
II
2501
HYE
2
I
3
2502
HYE
2
3
2503
2504
HYE
HYE'
2
2505
2506
HYE
I
HYE
2
2507
HYE
2
2508
HYE
2
2508/a
HYE
2
2509
HYE
2
2510
2511
HYE
I
HYE
HYE
2
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
2
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
3
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
II
III
?
II
II
I
?
II
I
III
II
II
I
I
I
II
III
?
II
I
I
I
I
I
IV
I
IV
?
II
II
?
?
I
I
II
?
II
II
II
2512
2513
2514
2
2
HYE
2
HYE
2
HYN
I
HYN
2
2
2700
HYN
HTR
2701
HTR
2
2600
2601
2602
2
2702
HTR
2
2703/a--c
HTR
2
2800
2801
IUF
2
IUF
IUF
2
4
2803
IUF
2
2804
IUF
I
2805
IUF
2?
2806
2807
IUF
IUF
2
2808
2809
IUF
IUF
I
2
2810
IUF
2
2811
IUF
2
2812
IUF
I
2900
2901
HYJ
I
HYJ
2
2902
HYJ
HYJ
2
2802
2903
I
I
0
5
3
0
0
I
I
8
3
5
7
10
2
5
2
0
3
8
12
12
7
6
20
7
I
0
3
I
I
0
14
4
2
0
3
I
3
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
directions, with different orientations of the inhumed.
The heads of individuals and their eyes are oriented
toward different geographical directions too.
The bodies were all buried in different positions:
fetal, supine and crouched positions, lying on the right or
left side, with fully extended body and legs, supine
position, e.g. IUL.1518, and prone position with also
extended or flexed legs, facing down with collected and
flexed arms under the stomach, e.g. female individual,
IUG.1411, without any grave goods. Collective grave,
IUL.1500, of a female and two infants; with female
individual buried on her left side, covering the two
infants with her hands, probably her children, showing
her affection and love.
The most frequent inhumation position at Shahr-i
Sokhta is the sleeping position, with the arms raised
above the head or bent toward the face. This probably
demonstrates that the inhabitants of Shahr-i Sokhta
regarded death as a process or stage of human life, and
not as complete physical decomposition and annihilation
With a few exceptions, in none of the squares is there
a logical chronology,Io as all known periods of
occupation are present, with a variety of grave types in
almost all the squares examined. The lack of order in the
direction and structure of graves is witness to a tradition
that continued in that society for more than one thousand
years. On the other hand, this irregularity and nonuniformity of funerary rituals, may not only suggest the
existence of an ideological and ritual variety within the
population of Shahr-i Sokhta, but might indicate that
remote memories of the individuals' area of origin. The
reason for the many examples of grave shapes and
structures, e.g. simple pits, is that they are one of the
most common forms of inhumation. Other grave types,
e.g. 2 and 4, were used for almost one thousand years at
Shahr-i Sokhta without any perceivable change in
structure. The question then is: how did a tradition
continue for such a long time? The only reasonable
answer is probably to be found in rituaVideological
manifestations and traditions. If this assumption were
true for grave structures, it could also apply to the
direction of burials and the orientation of the bodies,
collective/ familiar graves, the arrangement of grave
goods and so on. As already mentioned, the inhumations
were orientated in different directions, in prone or supine
positions. One can assume that inhumations were taking
place at different times of the day, and not at a
specific/conventional hour of the day. If this were
correct, then there would have been a ritual tradition that
37
depended on the time of the day in which the inhumation
took place. The time of inhumation can be deduced from
the orientation of the head and eyes. When the face is
towards the floor of the grave, then inhumation may
have taken place at night. When the head was oriented
toward the sun, then the burial may have taken place
during daytime.
According to the available data, at least some of the
bodies of Shahr-i Sokhta were wrapped inside a cloth.
This is suggested by human bones from various graves
which had textile fragments stuck to them. Fabrics were
used in three different forms: as cloth to wrap the body,
as carpets/coverlet, covering almost all the surface of the
grave and grave goods, and as dresses. The first case is
the most frequent one. IUC.1300, IUG.140 1, IUG.1504,
IUG.l506, lUG. 1507, IUG.1509, IUG.l510, IUG.l518,
IUA.l709, IUF.2802 and IBP.2300 are graves where the
inhumed is wrapped in cloth. In the second case, a rough
and cheap cloth was used for the grave's floor, the body
was then placed on this and covered with a finer cloth;
e.g. IUA.1707 and probably IUA.1709. In this last
grave, fragments of a possible felt carpet were found. II
The third use of cloth was when the body was buried
with his or her dress, as it seems in IUA.1703. The floor
of this grave was covered with a very thick cloth, and the
body was placed on top of it. Under the back of the
female body a considerable number of semi-precious
beads were found. They were most probably the
decoration of the dress. According to published data of
the first expedition, there were no bodies found with the
head covered (Piperno 1977: 141 ). During the recent
excavations, some burials with a textile head cover were
discovered. In the case of the individual buried in
IUL.1504, not only did the grave have a very thick and
coarse fabric carpet/cover, but the whole body was
wrapped, with the head tied in a cloth and bound with a
cord. This has decayed with time and is broken into
pieces, ending up tinder his neck in fragmentary form.
(Fig. 10: a, c).
This is also the case with IUL.l500, where
individuals were completely covered. According to
available data from excavations, it seems that the use of
carpets, cloths/mats was a tradition at Shahr-i Sokhta. A
mat in excellent condition was found in IUG.1400. This
was laid out on the remaining bones of burial
IUG.l400a. The last buried individual, a young woman
of 17-22 years, was placed on this mat (Fig. 10: d).
Mats were also found in IUG.1405, IPB.2300 and
GTS.2000b (Fig. 10: b, d). With regard to fabric used
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38
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
both as floor covering ("carpets") and to wrap bodies, it
is interesting to note that among a total of fifteen graves
with wrapped bodies, dresses or carpets made of
fabric/textile, 12 only three graves, IUF.2802, IUA.l709
and IUL.l504, belonged to male individuals, one grave,
IUG.l400 to an undetermined individual, four graves,
IUL.l506, IUL.l507, IUL.l509 and IUA.l707 to
children, one grave, IUL.l500 to a family and six
graves, IUC.l300, IUL.l5l0, IUL.l518, IPB.2300,
IUA.l703 and GTS.2000b, to female individuals.
The presence of some unusual inhumations may
indicate that human sacrifices were frequent at Shahr-i
Sokhta. However, because of the very little data
available, this statement must be taken with great
caution (Piperno 1979: 139). The shape and form ofthe
inhumation in some tombs brings to mind the possibility
that this tradition may have existed at Shahr-i Sokhta.
Among the excavated graves, there are several cases of
a single skull buried. Grave IUL.l502 contains a skull
together with five grave goods. In another grave,
IPB.230 I , a total of 6-8 skulls were arranged around a
circular pit (Fig. 6: d) that had its inner hole filled up
with the remains of human bones, similar to grave
HNE.609 (Piperno 1986: fig. 4 ). Another important case
is the bipartite grave IUF.28l 0, where it seems that the
head of the buried individual was cut, probably in a
complicated ritual ceremony, by a knife/dagger and then
disposed under his feet at a distance of almost 40 em.
This grave contains 13 grave goods, including a metal
knife or dagger near his right hand, which was probably
used to kill the individual (Fig. 8: d).
Many graves suggest the presence of particular
religious practices or ritual traditions. Collective and
familiar graves, empty and re-utilised tombs,
demonstrate the presence of various customs that could
be interpreted as religious worship practices and social
traditions. During the excavations, several empty tombs
were found. Some of these were dug into the ground,
ready for use, but were left completely empty. IUK.l608
and IUA.l708, yielded 6 and 13 grave goods
respectively, but without any remains of human
skeletons. These empty tombs are related to some sort of
ritual ceremony, but are different from those reported at
Mehrgareh (Santoni 1981: 52). While at Mehrgareh in
Pakistan there are traces of burning around the
cenotaphs that bring to mind some possible relationship
with rites of cremation (ibid.), here, at Shahr-i Sokhta,
the assumption is that they were probably built in the
memory of people who died far from their homeland or
disappeared for some unknown reason. Being traditional
or perhaps "religious" people, the relatives performed a
traditional religious funerary ceremony. They prepared
the tombs and arranged the grave goods according to
tradition, thus performing a social and ritual duty. This
hypothesis may seem simple and superficial, but on the
other hand there is no other logical and justified reason
for the presence of this type of grave.
In addition to the above mentioned graves, collective
and family graves, graves with kid offerings, which
were an old tradition known from at least the seventh
millennium B.C. onward (Lechevallier et al. 1982),
different inhumation procedures and a variation of grave
goods must be taken into consideration. With regard to
graves with no grave goods, it must be noted that most
of these were badly eroded and disturbed, and belonged
to new-born babies and infants under two years.
The possibility that this group of graves originally
contained perishable material that decayed over time has
already been mentioned. These graves may have also
belonged to a distinctive class of people with different
traditions or religious customs.
Grave goods could have had two different functions:
a) in relation to worship and funerary rituals and, b) in
relation to the social class and status of the deceased.
Although there is not enough data available on the social
status of the inhabitants of Shahr-i Sokhta, which is in
contrast to Altyn Depe, for example (Masson 1988),
there are still some traces of grave goods and offerings,
which could indicate differences between social classes.
During the first phase of excavations at Shahr-i
Sokhta, the Italian expedition found 19 kids/lambs
(Piperno 1986: 262). The presence of these animal
bones is mainly related to religious practices and
funerary rituals among the herders of Shahr-i Sokhta
(Piperno 1977: 136; 1979: 136). It seems, however, that
there could also be some other reason, as they could
simply represent the social status of the deceased, who
could have been a shepherd. Seventeen complete kids
were found in fourteen graves: IUG.l413, 1414,
IUL.l515, IUK.l607, 1613, IUA.l704, 1705, 1706,
1713, 1718, HYE.2513, 2514, HTR.2702 and IUF.2811.
This is an old tradition that can be dated back to the
seventh millennium at Mehrgareh (Shaffer 1986: 68).
Unlike the former excavations, when several isolated
bone fragments were recovered (Piperno 1986: 262) all
kids found during 1997-2000 were intact and complete.
All four graves containing two kids, IUG.l414,
IUL.l515, IUA.l704 and IUA.l706, belonged to male
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
Fig. 10. Graves at Shahr-i Sokhta.
39
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40
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
individuals. In total, among fourteen graves with kids,
nine belonged to male individuals, one to an uncertain
male, one to a child, one to an undetennined individual
and only two graves, IUK.1613 and IUA.1705 to female
individuals.
Except for two cases, the tombs with kids are
bipartite graves: IUG.1414, a simple pit, and IUA.I705,
probably a catacomb. Chronologically, one burial,
IUA.1705 is attributed to the period I, nine to period II,
one to period III and none to period IV. Almost all these
graves are found in the central part of the graveyard and
in trenches next to each other. The only exception is
HTR.2702, located in the western side of the central part
of the graveyard. Apart from IUA.I705, with sixty-five
grave goods, all other burials could be considered
"middle class" graves. Four burials yielded limestone,
comelian, turquoise and lapis lazuli beads. The lapis
lazuli beads of two burials, IUL.1515 and IUK.1607,
were covered with a narrow gold strip.
The kid remains of IUA.1704 were disposed under
the feet of the body, but in all other cases, the kids were
buried either under the skull or in front of the face near
the hands of the individuals. In one case, IUL.1515, the
legs of the kid were positioned on the skull of the buried
individual and its head was close to the hands of the
deceased. No signs of slaughter have been found and it
seems that the animals were first suffocated and then
buried. According to the available data, more than 10%
of graves contained kids, and if we consider the nineteen
found in earlier excavations (Piperno 1986: 262), 13 we
have almost the same percentage. If it is true that the
possession of analogous objects or tools can be
interpreted as an indication of the occupation of the
owners of the graves, then as Piperno states: "the social
structure of the Shahr-i Sokhta people and their division
into classes according to their craft or productive activity
are mirrored in the graveyard by the distribution of
wealth" (Piperno 1977: 140). It can therefore be
concluded that the presence ofkids in 10% of the graves
may reflect ritual practices but, more probably, it is
related to animal husbandry and the life of the herdsmen
at Shahr-i Sokhta (Fig. 7: a).
Most burials contain only one human skeleton,
although some graves have two or more. One hundred
and seventeen graves, or 89% of the total, were occupied
by a single individual, 10% were occupied by more than
one, and less than 1% were empty. According to the
number of skeletons, the graves ofShahr-i Sokhta can be
divided as follows:
a) Common graves: this group contains one human
skeleton and some grave goods. The quantity and
quality of the goods depend on the social status of the
deceased.
TABLE 3. Graves with kids and associated grave goods.
No.
1413
1414
Type
2
I
Sex
M
M (Two)
Goat
I
1515
2
1607
2
1613
1704
1705
1706
1713
1718
2513
2514
2702
2811
2
2
2?-4?
2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2'
Pottery
5
8
Alabaster
I
I
M?
2
4
2
M
I
3
I
F
I
2
I
3
5
63
II
9
7
6
2
10
2
I
I
0
I
0
0
2
0
I
0
M
F
M
M
M
M
Child
Undetermined
M
2
I
I
I
I
I
I
Beads
0
20 limestone/
comet ian
5 lapis lazuli, gold
covered
5 lapis lazuli, gold
covered
2 terracotta
0
0
0
0
I stone bead
0
0
0
21 lapis lazuli,
comelian/
turquoise/stone
Other objects
0
0
0
0
0
0
I metal pin/ textile
0
I metal seal/ I stone tool
I stone tool
2 bone tools
0
0
0
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
b) Multiple graves: these are subdivided into four types:
Type I. Graves with family ties. These graves were
used after the death of members of a family. Grave
IUG.1400, for instance, was used on four different
occasions. It is believed that the re-utilisation of
graves during the third millennium B.C. was a
common tradition. In graveyard G. of Mundigak
some graves were used for more than one person
(Casal1961: figs. 44-45; pl. XB-D). Multiple graves
were also common at Altyn-Depe (Masson 1988:
65-72). Catacombs must be considered as family
graves (Piperno 1979: 125), although among a total
of six, only two, IUG.l400 and IUG.l404 contained
respectively four and two bodies, while in the four
remaining graves only one individual was buried. In
IUG.l400 the bones of the two bodies that were
buried first were collected in a comer of the funerary
chamber, while the two who were buried later, were
lying on top of each other. According to the available
data from the excavated catacombs, it seems that in
addition to the re-use of these structures for family
graves, the catacombs were perhaps also built as a
tribute to individuals from important and wealthy
families. A total of 354 grave goods have been found
inside the six excavated catacombs: IUG.1400 with
88 items, IUG.l404, 101 items, IUG.l405 with 24
items, IUA.1705 with 65 items, IUF.2802 with 20
items, and IUK.1615 with 56 items.
Type 2. Second family type graves. This grave
type contains human skeletal remains of members of
the same family who died at the same time. Graves
IUG.1408 and HTR.2703 contained three bodies,
IUL.1500 with the bone remains of a female and two
children, and IUG.1403 with the skeletal remains of
a male and a female (Fig. 6: c).
Type 3. Collective graves. Unlike the cases above,
there is no reason to assume that the skeletal remains
belonged to the same family. It seems rather that the
presence of multiple bodies is due to some ritual
tradition or perhaps religious practices, as for example
graves IBP.2300 and IBP.230. IPB.2301 (Fig. 6: d)
consists of a circular pit with a diameter of c. 1m. and
a depth of38-80 em. with 6-8 human skulls 14 laid out
in a circle next to each other. The central space of the
"grave" is filled with the remaining human bones.
This grave is similar to grave HNБ.609.15
Type 4. Graves containing different fragments of
human bones gathered together, as for example
IUG.l407. 16
41
c) Graves with mutilated skeletal remains. The skeletons
belonging to these graves are not anatomically
complete. The analysis of the remaining fragments
shows that this is not due to decay or natural defect.
The remains and bones of one group of this grave type
were damaged by newly dug graves. For example, in
graves IRS.11 00 and IRS.11 02 skeletons were
mutilated and grave goods broken. Among these
burials, there are other graves containing only parts of
human skeletons, or only a skull with a complete set
of grave goods, but without any trace of damage to the
grave structure. In grave IUL.150 1 only the upper part
of the skeleton was found, while in grave IUL.l519
the skeleton was without a skull. Grave GTS.2000
with a total of five mutilated or incomplete skeletons
also belongs to this same group. Single skulls are
buried on their own, as for example graves IUG.1406,
IUL.1502 and IUL.1516. In the latter grave the skull
was found upside down. It must be noted that the
graves of this group contained grave goods.
CONCENTRATION AND DISTRIBUTION OF
BURIALS IN THE GRAVEYARD
The number and density of the graves in the central
section of the graveyard are higher than those of other
sections. Here five main squares, each measuring 100
sq.m., were opened. The calculations made on the
number of excavated graves show 17+ graves in each
square, compared with 15 per 100 sq.m. of the whole
graveyard. The density of graves in the northern part of
the graveyard, near the Monumental Area, is much less
than in the central section. In square IRS and in an area
of c. 30 sq.m., only 3 graves, i.e. 1 grave per 10 sq.m.,
have been found next to each other. Squares IUL, IUA,
lUG, IUK and HYE, in the central part of the graveyard
respectively yielded'22, 19, 19, 17 and 17 graves.'?
Among the nine known types of grave structure, only
four have been found: simple pits, bipartite pits,
catacombs and circular graves with a closed entrance.
Eighty-two graves (almost 60%)18 belong to the second
type, while forty graves (or 29%) are simple pits, eight
(6%) are catacombs,l9 and four (3%) are circular graves
with a closed entrance. The remainder, less than 2%, are
not attributed to any known type of grave due to
excessive erosion (Fig. 11: a).
The grave types are distributed as follows with
respect to the period of occupation: from a total of 82
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42
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
bipartite pits, 38 (46%) belong to period I; 26 (32%) to
period II; 3 (4%) to period III; l to period IV, while 14
graves (17%) cannot be determined. Among the 40
simple pits, 16 (40%) are not datable, while 6 (15%)
belong to period I, 14 (35%) to period II, l (2.5%) to
period III and 3 (7.5%) to period IV. The eight
catacombs are divided evenly between periods III and
IV. Finally, three round-shaped graves are of period I,
while the fourth is attributed to p~riod III.zo
Due to the similarity between- certain grave goods,
mainly pottery that could be attributed to different
cultural phases, the date of some graves is uncertain.
This occurs particularly in graves attributed to cultural
phases 8 and 7 of periods I and II, and to phases 3 and
2 of periods III and IV. The initial dating2 1 of these
groups of graves is established according to the largest
number of objects that can be attributed to a given
phase. Some graves are not datable because of the total
absence of cultural material, although an approximate
date can be established by considering the general
aspects of the grave, the vicinity to a specific group and
the location within the squares.
Among the excavated graves 32 (23.5%) lacked any
kind of cultural material and contained only remains of
human skeletons. Undoubtedly this high percentage of
graves without goods is considerable and although this
could be accidental, it may also apply to the whole
graveyard. Of those empty graves, 50% are simple pits
and 48% are bipartite pits. However, it is not possible to
assume that this was the original state of the graves, as
some of these graves could have possibly contained
perishable and organic material such as food, mats,
baskets, wooden objects and cloth bags, which decayed
during time.
A total of 47 graves (34.5%) are attributed to period
I, which covers c. 400 years and cultural phases l 0 to 8.
The excavated graves of this period are attributed to the
ninth and eighth phases, but no burials are attributed to
the oldest phase of this period. The vast majority of
graves of this period, 38 (82%) are bipartite pits, while
6 (13%) are simple pits, and 3 (5.6%) are circular
graves with a closed entrance. During this period no
catacomb or pseudo-catacomb was found. Statistically,
period II, with a total of 41 graves (30%), follows
period I. A total of26 graves (63.5%) of this period, are
of the bipartite type and 14 graves (34.5%) are simple
pits. The number of graves of periods III and IV are
limited. The total excavated graves of period III consist
of nine burials (6.5%), four catacombs (44.5%), three
bipartite pits (34.5%), one circular grave with a closed
entrance and one simple pit. This percentage is more or
less repeated in period IV. Eight of the total excavated
graves (6%) are attributed to this period. These consist
of four catacombs (50%), three simple pits (37.5%) and
one bipartite pit (see below, Fig. 34: b).
FURNISHING
Due to the high proportion of graves containing
goods and their suitable state of preservation, the
graveyard of Shahr-i Sokhta can be considered as a
"rich" and "wealthy" graveyard. It contains a vast
collection of different materials and objects, which are
useful for understanding the nature of the society and
the daily life of the people. The difference, both
qualitative and quantitative, between "poor" and
"rich" graves, depends on the structure of the grave
and the social position of the buried individual. The
number of excavated graves, with respect to the
estimated tombs of the graveyard, is still insufficient22
to allow us an explanation for these differences. The
available data would suggest that certain graves, for
example those of children and non-adult individuals,
could be classified as "poor" burials due to the quality
and quantity of their grave goods. There are however
some exceptions.
Generally speaking, the grave goods are in fairly
good condition, although this depends on the location of
the excavated squares. The majority of grave goods
consist of different types of pottery. Stone, matting,
wood, metal and bone are also found. The discovery of
hundreds of different objects and fragments inside the
graves demonstrates that we are dealing with a very
wealthy society. More than 900 objects found in graves
in the 1997-2000 seasons were still intact and complete,
not counting fragments, as well as organic and other
decayed material. If we consider an excavated area of c.
880 sq.m., then we can calculate that 1.5 objects were
deposited in every sq.m. of the graveyard. Each grave
normally contains one or two beakers, one bowl, one
small jar and one stone vessel, which usually has the
remains of various kinds of cooked or raw food and bioorganic material. According to available data more than
52% of burials (69 tombs) contain 47% of grave goods,
that is between 0-3 objects. The other 53% are related to
the remaining burials. This shows again the noticeable
difference between the quantity, and not quality, of grave
43
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
70%
?61%
60%
50%
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40%
I
30%
1\
I \
~8%
20%
10%
\
\
\
~'
3%
2%
0%
2
9
4
?
a. Grave Type
40%
34%
35%
30%
25%
~'
/
~30%
\
20%
15%
10%
\
\
\
6%
7%
5%
0%
?
Ill
b. Period of Occupation
Fig. 11. Grave types and occupation periods at Shahr-i Sokhta.
IV
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44
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
goods, i.e. "wealthy" and "poor" graves at Shahr-i
Sokhta, as well as the difference in age groups and
individuals ofboth sexes. In fact, compared with empty
and "poor" graves, there were also "rich" burials which
contained 50 to more than I 00 grave goods, e.g.
IUG.I404, IUG.l400 or IUK.l615. The difference
between the quality and quantity of objects disposed in
graves also depends on the area and structure of the
graves.
It has been mentioned that thirty-two graves were
empty, that is 23% of the total excavated burials.
Although this type of grave includes both sexes and is
found in various sectors of the graveyard, most of these
graves belong to newborn or to children buried at a
depth of a few centimetres below the surface. Since we
have no knowledge of the funerary rites at Shahr-i
Sokhta, we do not know if these tombs were empty from
the beginning, if they remained empty intentionally, or if
they were furnished with decayed material that perished
over time. It is possible to assume that perhaps the
inhabitants of Shahr-i Sokhta, at least at one point, may
have regarded death as a temporary and deep sleep or, in
other words, as a normal and common process of life.
Hence, an organised structure for funerary rites and
ceremonies may have existed. This is possible, if we
take into account the shape and type of graves and the
grave goods, particularly the pottery deposited in the
catacombs. Consequently, the presence of an organised
group of priests was necessary, not just for the funerary
practice and ceremonies, but also for setting up the grave
goods. The similarity in the arrangement of objects and
bodies, especially in catacombs, indicates that this was
probably the work of a single person or a specific group
with a common ideological belief, as for example in the
case of catacombs IUG.l400, and IUG.l404. Almost all
the pottery in both graves was new and unused. This
shows that it was especially made for funerary purposes.
Grave goods had different functions; certain objects
were for ritual purposes, others were personal
belongings of the inhumed. Some grave goods indicate
the daily occupation, job and/or specific interest of the
individual. To date several burials attributed to
craftsmen have been unearthed at Shahr-i Sokhta
(Piperno 1986). Confirmation also comes from at least
two graves excavated during 1997-2000. The artifacts
and tools of a craftsman, probably a bead maker, in
HTR.270l were disposed under his feet (see below, Fig.
38: b-e). In another case, the artifacts and tools of
another craftsman, probably a stone cutter, were
disposed in square IUA, but without a possible link to
any specific grave (see below, Fig. 38: d). The presence
of craftsmen graves is a clear indication of the
widespread handicraft activities in this proto-historical
city, where l 0% of the inhabitants were occupied with
animal breeding. The same lack of uniformity present in
the grave types and inhumations, also exist among grave
goods. Although most objects are pottery and a
reflection of the daily life of the individual, some objects
are merely related to rituals and ideological traditions.
According to this criterion, grave goods could be
grouped as: objects of daily use, decorative and
ornamental objects, ritual objects, tools, artifacts and
bio-botanical and organic materials.
Pottery is the main material used for grave goods,
though stone, wood, plant, bone, terracotta, metal, etc.,
are also found. Different stone objects are also produced,
for example alabaster, one of the favorite stones, was
used for bowls, vases, seals and flagons, but soapstone
and chlorite, unlike at Shahdad (Hakemi 1997) and Tepe
Yahya (Kohl 2001) were much less common at Shahr-i
Sokhta. Other types of stone were used for objects and
in particular different types of tools. Semi-precious
stones were widespread, lapis lazuli, turquoise and
carnelian were particularly popular at Shahr-i Sokhta
(Bulgarelli 1998; Tosi 1973; l974a; l974b) (see below,
Figs. 37, 38: a, 39: a-b).
Both cylindrical and stamp seals were present inside
the graves. Seals found in IUK.l605, IUK.l6l0, and
HRJ.l900, probably indicate the social responsibilities
and status of the buried individuals (see below, Fig. 36:
a). Unlike Shahdad (Hakemi 1997), metal vessels are
not frequent.23 Metal objects consist of tools, knives,
daggers, mirrors, seals, wands and pins (see below, Fig.
36: c). Bone objects are also rare. Most bone objects
consist of tools, with the exception of a decorative item
found in HYE.2513, which is similar to the fragment of
a worked boar tusk from Tepe Rud-e Biaban (see below,
Fig. 36: b) (Santini 1990: fig. 15).
Wooden objects were also found. Interesting are a
wooden ladle, affected by termites, and a circular mirror
box from IUG.l400. Combs are part of wooden
collections of grave goods (see below, Fig. 41 : a, e, g, f,
h). A considerable number of textile fragments in
different shapes were also discovered: traces of mat bags
were found inside bowls, containing food remains and
offerings. Large reed baskets contained smaller objects.
In IUG.l400, cosmetic items were put inside a reed
basket and placed near the head of the dead person. In
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
IUA.1709, two baskets were placed inside the usually
empty section of this bipartite burial (see below, Fig. 41:
c; Fig. 12: a). Carpets made of textile were also used. In
IUG.1400, which contained four buried individuals, the
last body was resting on a mat placed directly over the
body of the third individual. In one case, IUF.2700,
fragments of a mat were attached to the grave's wall (see
below, Fig. 41: b; Fig. 12: a-e).
It has been mentioned that grave goods were directly
related to daily jobs, economic interests or the social
status of the buried individual. Although in more than
20% of graves there were no visible goods, about 80%
of burials contained enough material to allow some
conclusions on the social aspects of the society. On the
other hand, it has been mentioned that most empty
graves belonged. to newborn or children buried in
shallow pits. This phenomenon may be explained in
different ways: it is possible that at some specific time,
due to an epidemic, the number of dead children rose,
causing the corpses to be buried quickly in order to
avoid the spread of the disease. There could also be
religious reasons, which prevented non-adult individuals
from having offerings. The final reason, as mentioned
earlier, could be the perishable nature of the offerings.
The majority of furnished graves cannot be
compared with each other, in particular graves with kid
offerings are completely different from the empty,
unfurnished graves. Here, the number of grave goods
and their quality are directly related to the social status
of the buried individual. In addition to grave goods, a
considerable quantity of bio-botanical and organic
material was found. A preliminary study of biobotanical and organic materials24 conserved in the
pottery of IUK.1615 shows that 18 vessels (4 small and
big jars, 1 beaker and 13 bowls) contained grapes,
barley, wheat, wheat flour, fragments of wood and a tiny
fragment of carbon.2s
POTTERY
The number of ceramic vessels at Shahr-i Sokhta is
surprising. Some pottery kilns are located in the northwestern part of the site near and around the Monumental
Area, but most vessels were produced out of town in
places such as Rud-e Biaban (Biscione 1990), Tepe Dash
and in the lowlands, located in the eastern parts of the
site, where traces of hundreds of pottery kilns, fragments
of pottery and wasted fragments were clearly visible.
45
The pottery of Shahr-i Sokhta is commonly Buff
Ware, wheel-made with fme and medium-sized sand
temper. Unpainted BuffWare vessels have a coarse body
and are considered as the "standard" pottery type of
Shahr-i Sokhta. Coarse and Fine Wares are rare. With
some exception, the quality of pottery at Shahr-i Sokhta
has to be considered as a "middle class" pottery. Some
common shapes are beakers, bowls, carafes, plates,
dishes, large and small jars, pots, flower vases and trays
(Figs. 13-15; Fig. 16: a-1). Generally speaking, the
pottery of Shahr-i Sokhta could be divided into two
main groups ofBuff and Grey Ware, with some rare Red
Ware pottery. Buff Ware occurs in a variety of forms of
beakers, bowls, pots and other minor frequent shapes in
all periods. Beakers, in particular pear-shaped ones, are
present in all phases in a standard and almost uniform
shape. During the first two periods of occupation almost
all beakers are painted, while from the middle of the
third period, the number of unpainted beakers increases.
Different designs, motifs and potter's marks, both
painted and engraved, appear on a number of beakers,
such as bowls and jars. Straight and oblique lines are
more common. Unpainted hemispheric Buff Ware
bowls are the most common vessel shapes of Shahr-i
Sokhta, although painted bowls, decorated with
geometrical designs are also frequent. The motifs on the
painted Buff Ware pottery have been subject to gradual
changes during periods I to IV. Most motifs are
geometric patterns; there are for example horizontal
lines or bands, chains of triangles, upside-down
triangles and stepped lines. Zoomorphic motifs, goats,
ibex, birds and fish are less common than geometric
patterns. Goats and ibex designs are frequent on beakers
and during the third period, stylised fish appear on the
inside of bowls and dishes. In this later period, some
naturalistic motifs are also present, as they represent the
nature and milieu ,of Shahr-i Sokhta: water courses,
lakes and cultivated fields appear inside shallow bowls
or dishes. In general, the colour range goes from a very
light to a very dark brown, almost black (Figs. 17-23;
see below Fig. 32: b-e).
Grey Ware pottery vessels consist of large and small
bowls, small pots and some less frequent forms, such as
trumpet shapes. Some Grey Ware pottery vessels are
intensely burnt, so that the grey colour has turned black.
Almost all deep bowls are. painted, while some smaller
bowls are unpainted. The painted motifs appear both on
the outside and inside of the bowls. The motif on the
outside is commonly applied to the upper section of the
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46
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
47
\
1418.2
1815.25
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1815.27 .
7
'I
1200.2
'J
)
'
2802.10
]
2802.18
1412.5
/
1709.7
2513.2
'\..]/
1408.1
"I
1705.43
7
l~_JL________j)
L
1705.7
1408.2
Fig. 13. Unpainted buff ware bowls/plates.
48
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JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
1400.19
1400b-c.6
\.
\
\
;
/
1705.52
(J_)
1400.4
-,)
Cl--
(D
1519.6
0
1604.3
5
Fig. 14. Unpainted buff ware jars/pots.
49
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
1404a.52
1705.1
1615.44
1400.1
1518.1
1615.45
1705.56
2100.5
1404a.50
1201.1
1709.9
1709.1
Fig. 15. Unpainted buff ware pear-shaped, large beakers, tea pots.
1615.46
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50
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Fig. 16. Buff ware bowls, pots and jars.
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
bowls and the rim. Common designs include lines,
bands and hatched triangles. The designs on the inside,
on the other hand, cover the entire surface of the bowls,
and represent scenes from nature, with two crossed Sshaped motifs. In some cases, the motifs on the inside
are the same as the ones on the outside. The Grey Ware
pottery of Shahr-i Sokhta roughly corresponds to the
"Emir Ware Pottery", largely found in Pakistani
Baluchistan (Wright 1984; Besenval2000; Bonora eta/.
2000) (Figs. 2~29). Bi-chrome and Polychrome Wares
are also found. The hi-chrome vessels are cylindrical
beakers with a flat base and geometrical motifs painted
in orange, black and brown colours (Fig. 30: e; Fig. 23:
i-k). The Polychrome Wares are hemispheric and
cylindrical jars with flat bases (Fig. 30: a-d). The pottery
of the graveyard could be divided as follows:
Everyday vessels: These are probably vessels
which were used by the deceased during his lifetime.
They consist of bowls, dishes, plates and beakers,
painted and unpainted wares. It seems that the pearshaped beakers had a particular role in funerary
ceremonies, they were present in almost all excavated
and furnished graves.
Newly-made vessels: They were probably made by
order solely for funerary ceremonies. This group
consists of various sizes of Unpainted Buff Ware bowls,
pots and jars. Most objects of this group are vessels
found in catacombs, and have incised and painted
potter's marks.
Mortuary vessels: This group consists of a group of
Grey Ware bowls, which were rare in the Residential
and Monumental areas. Unlike unpainted Buff Ware
vessels, these items were used. Most objects of this
group are painted with the exception of smaller bowls. 2 6
POTTER'S MARKS
A number of pottery vessels and fragments found at
Shahr-i Sokhta have signs and marks known as "potter's
marks". These marks are found at eastern Iranian sites,
such as Shahdad (Hakerni 1972; 1997; Kaboli 1368),
and Tepe Yahya (Potts 1981 ). Some marks are similar to
Proto-Elamite signs (Merriggi 1971-74), while others
served as measurement units. 27 In addition to the usually
incised, scraped or painted marks on the body of vessels,
as for example in G. IUA.1705, an interesting group of
marks consisting of sixteen star-shaped signs incised
below the neck of the pot were found (Fig. 14: 1705;
51
Fig. 31: d.33; Fig. 16: h). This is similar to the "Quetta
Ware" pots of period IV, 3 of Mundigak (Casal1961:
fig. 98: no. 465). An unusual group of signs appears
inside a small buff ware bowl in NAB.2400, which
could suggest an inscription, but without links to any
known scripts (Fig. 31: e 12; Fig. 32: a). Another group
of painted marks was discovered inside the vessels
unearthed in IUA.1710 (Fig. 18: b). This is the only case
at Shahr-i Sokhta where a group of painted marks
occurred in a single grave.
The potter's marks of the graveyard are divided into
three groups: scraped, incised (engraved) and painted
(Fig. 31: a--e; Fig. 32: a-t). Scraped and incised marks
were made with a sharp tipped tool, probably a chiselled
bone, while the vessel was still wet. This was done by
one or two movements of the potter's hand. The
difference between incised and scraped marks is the
depth of the mark. While both scraped and incised marks
appear on unpainted bowls and jars, painted marks are
frequent on painted vessels, particularly beakers.
The majority of marked vessels were found in
catacombs. This, to some extent, supports the hypothesis
of the presence of organised funerary ceremonies and a
class of specialist priests. These marks are incised on
analogous vessels, such as buff ware bowls and jars; all
these had never been used before. In other words, these
vessels were made solely for a specific grave and a
funerary ceremony. Although the marks differ from each
other, there are some similarities between groups of
scraped/incised marks and painted marks. The most
frequent marks are as follows:
a. Scraped marks:
Group 1. Vertical lines, diagonal lines (Fig. 31: a. nos.
1-10)
Group 2. Wavy lines (Fig. 31: a. nos. 11-20)
Group 3. Pattern of two diagonal lines, two horizontal
wavy lines, one" straight and one horizontal wavy
line, one diagonal and one wavy line, three diagonal
lines, three horizontal lines, two horizontal wavy
lines and one diagonal line (Fig. 31: a. nos. 21-34)
Group 4. Wavy lines: Wavy curved lines, crossed wavy
lines (Fig. 31: a. nos. 35-42)
Group 5. Stars composed of three crossed lines (Fig. 31:
b. nos. 43-47)
Group 6. Lines made up of abstract "mountain" shapes:
three straight lines, two curved lines and one straight
line, composition of a group of diagonal crossed
lines (Fig. 31: b. nos. 48-52).
181D.;u
~17
1701.. ,
'<$_; 7
1100,1V
17011.32
o-s
17011.H
1112:2
~
Fig. 17. Painted buff ware bowls.
1705.50
'~]и/
11114.4
7
11111.8
\11
1801.13
1718.4
~
1700.7
1708.30
~7
w
"'-~
~j7
1815.21
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0
c::::
IZl
tr!
c::::
t:1
-
>-l
IZl
z
;;
IZl
::0
tr!
'"'!'j
.,
0
>
r
z
::0
......
Vl
N
1505.4
1717.4
2512.5
1410.6
1710.5
Fig. 18. Painted buff ware deep bowls/jars.
1704.2
2803.3.
1520.1
1707.9
2702.2
0=-=-=5
~~
2702.1
1519.3
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><
ti'l
w
Ul
>
...,::r::
;;:::
"-'
0
::r::
~
......
>
::r::
"-'
~
"-'
z
0
>
~
::l
("']
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54
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
1520.5
1700.4
1412.7
/
i
2801.1
2801.6
1615.39
0 =-oc::=-~и 5
<::?
Fig. 19. Painted buff ware pots.
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
55
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1201.2
2302.5
2000.4
1710.3
2508a.1
2510.2
0
5
Fig. 20. Painted buff ware beakers: large, concial, s-shaped, calix and pear shaped.
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56
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Fig. 21. Painted buffware bowls and pots.
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
5
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
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58
Fig. 23. Painted buff ware and bichrome beakers.
1201.4
1718.5
1614.1
2512.4
0
5
1200.5
2810.4
/
~
1713.6
Fig. 24. Unpainted gray ware pots/'flower vase'.
2701.6
1613.1
2811.2
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1504.3
1717.3
"-'
'-J /
2800.5
/
tTl
><
'-0
Ul
;J>
>-:]
:;:-::
:::r::
0
C/)
~
......
:::r::
;J>
:::r::
C/)
~
C/)
z
......
0
>-:]
~
(j
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
60
1708.4
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1406.9
1704.5
2703.6
1706.3
1708.12
1706.10
1701.1
1608.6
0=-==--==5
Fig. 25. Painted grey ware small necked pots.
1718.3
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
~
/
1713.7
61
/
/
/
I
1713.7
/
o~s
1717.5
Fig. 26. Painted grey ware deep bowls.
I
62
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
1708.13
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1701.2
1706.2
1808.1
111Ci8.5
1608.2
2800.2
1704.4
1700.3
1808.3
';ot:77
2810.7
Fig. 27. Painted grey ware small and deep bowls.
1718.8
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
Fig. 28. Gray ware bowls.
63
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64
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Fig. 29. Gray small ware pots.
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
65
a.1610.1
c.1900.4
d.1602.1
NS
8.140411.27
Fig. 30. Bichrome and polychrome vessels a: black and red on buff ware jar; b: black, yellow, brown and green jar; c:
red and yellow on buff ware jar; d: black, yellow, red and white jar; e: red, green and very light green, Fugitive beaker.
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66
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Group 7. Pattern of curved lines, abstract "cloud",
"course of water" or "sky". Composition of curved
lines. (Fig. 31: b. nos. 53-57).
Group 8. Pattern of crossed lines, abstract "trees":
composition of two curved lines and one vertical line
(Fig. 31: b. nos. 58-59)
Group 9. Pattern of lines, abstract "man": two curved
and one vertical line, two curved and two parallel
horizontal lines (Fig. 31: b. nos. 60--63)
Group 10. Straight crossed lines, 'abstract "house" (Fig.
31: b. no. 64)
Group 11. Pattern of crossed lines: abstract "bird" (Fig.
31: b. nos. 65-67)
Group 12. Pattern of lines, similar to Latin alphabet:
Upside-down "A" and "K", "B" and "N" (Fig. 31: c.
nos. 68-74)
Group 13. Pattern of lines, similar to Latin alphabet:
composition of two crossed diagonal lines: "V",
three lines: "W'' (Fig. 31: c. nos. 75-82)
Group 14. Pattern of two diagonal crossed lines "X"
(Fig. 31: c. nos. 83-90)
Group 15. Pattern of lines similar to Latin alphabet and
numbers: "Y", "Z", "4" and "+" (Fig. 31: c. nos.
91-96)
Group 16. Pattern of various lines, curved, parallel
diagonal, vertical and crossed diagonal lines. (Fig.
31: c. nos. 97-103).
Group 17. Two crossed vertical and horizontal lines "L"
(Fig. 31: c. no. 104)
b. Incised marks
Group 1. Vertical lines (Fig. 31: d. nos. 1-3)
Group 2. Parallel vertical lines (Fig. 31: d. no. 4)
Group 3. Angles, vertical and horizontal, diagonal and
horizontal, horizontal and diagonal (Fig. 31: d. nos.
5-10)
Group 4. Crossed lines: "X", "+" (Fig. 31: d. nos.
11-16).
Group 5. Parallel curved lines (Fig. 31: d. nos. 17-20)
Group 6. Pattern of two curved and one vertical line
(Fig. 31: d. nos. 21-22)
Group 7. Pattern of two curved and two vertical lines
(Fig.31:d.nos.23-24)
Group 8. Semicircular shape (Fig. 31: d. nos. 25)
Group 9. Semicircular shape with an apophasys (Fig.
31: d. no. 26)
Group 10. Wavy lines (Fig. 31: d. nos. 27)
Group 11. Composed lines (Fig. 31: d. nos. 28-32)
Group 12. Dots (Fig. 31: d. no. 33)
c. Painted marks
Group 1. Diagonal lines (Fig. 31: e. no.1 0)
Group 2. Parallel vertical lines (Fig. 31: e. no.2)
Group 3.: Horizontal bands (Fig. 31: e. no.3)
Group 4. Two crossed diagonal lines (Fig. 31: e. no. 4)
Group 5. "+"(Fig. 31: e. no. 5)
Group 6. Two "+" (Fig. 31: e. no. 6)
Group 7. Three "+" (Fig. 31: e. no. 7)
Group 8. One spot of colour (Fig. 31: e. no. 8)
Group 9. Two spots of colour (Fig. 31: e. nos. 9-1 0)
Group 10. Three spots of colour (Fig. 31: e. no.11)
ALABASTER VESSELS (Fig. 33: a-i)
by R. Shirazi
After pottery, alabaster is the most commonly used
material at Shahr-i Sokhta. The alabaster vessels of
Shahr-i Sokhta have been widely studied by R. Ciarla
(Ciarla 1979; 1989; 1990). Among a total of 112
furnished graves, 34.9% contained at least one alabaster
vessel. According to the available data, alabaster vessels
are mostly found in graves where, in addition to pottery
vessels, there were also stone beads made of different
kinds of semi-precious stones. Three out of five stone
beads found in IUL.1515 are made of lapis lazuli
covered with a narrow golden band. One is a cornelian
bead and another one is a white coloured bead, also
covered by a golden band. In graves IUG.l413,
IUK.1614a, in addition to alabaster vessels, a kid was
found as well. Some graves contain only a fragment of
an alabaster vessel. In IPB.2302, the grave of a newborn,
parts of a conical alabaster vessel were found.
According to the available data (Fig. 34: a), there is
no difference between males and females in possession
of alabaster vessels. The rare presence of alabaster
vessels in children's graves could suggest that alabaster
was used mainly for adult burials.
Alabaster vessels are present in all graves attributed
to all periods. Most vessels, 82%, are attributed to
periods I and II and the remaining 18% belongs to
periods III and IV (Fig. 34:b). The decrease of number
of alabaster objects found in periods III and N is due to
the decline of number of graves for these periods. This
is clearly related to the reduced population of the city
and the fact that a much smaller area was covered in
periods III and IV.
Although alabaster vessels were found in all grave
types, most of them came from bi-partite graves. It is
I
/
I
I
---
'-.....
""'
20
19
18
'--
17
"'
'V
81
82
\j/
80
c. Scraped Marks
r-1
-
72
'V
79
90
89
88
~
71
~
g
73
74
"
77
d..
70
""
85
86
87
r
)(
><
'1-
><
y.
X
84
v
76
69
96
95
94
93
99
98
97
103
10~
101
47
46
45
44
43
*
;::,k
*
*
.r
v
52
51
50
49
48
~
,.v,
1>б
..
?"'
.
104
J
XVII
~
"'\
~
){
l
~
L
- --
~
--
~
-----
---=~-
-~
....z:;
59
58
~~~
i:~
24
~~
-r
...""' -
~
J)J>J)
~
23
22
21
20
19
17
18
-+
+
IS
16
X
14
Incised Marks
57
56
55
54
53
VII
d. Incised Marks
13
12
11
10
9
8
6
7
~
..JI
~
II
'/
I
5
1
2
3
4
.--vv;
lA
;1\
~
VI
Fig. 31. Potter's marks.
b. Scraped Marks
XVI
100
,J
I
(
(
_____,-
~
~
--)
L
IV
+
+-
..-1-
4
)<,
92
'f..
83
v
75
y
91
;x
42
XV
1=-
\::::
\~
111
41
40
XIV
'V
78
Ill
'"
0
39
37
38
XIII
68
XII
29
28
(\..
.....___.~-
=,,
:::;::;
36
22
23
24
25
26
27
'""
'""
35
III
21 ~
30
'---.../'
31 :
...__...,. 32
33
'--------'
34
"--
16
15
a. Scraped Marks
8
9
10
7
6
s
.....___....
\
3
'---
._____...
13
14
"--./
12
\
2
4
......___,
I
1
ll
II
I
33
32
31
30
29
28
27
26
25
......~ .....
~
~
~~
t
~
\
y
u
*t-
VIII
63
62
61
60
I
~
n
??tJIJ R.Q
,,
,.
~
..
?
"tt
....
.../
-+
II
I
67
66
65
Painted Marks
64
X
e. Painted Marks
12
11
10
6
7
8
9
5
4
3
2
1
1~1
I :::. I
~
-I-
IX
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""
""'\
.)_.
XI
tTl
z
0
0'1
-..J
>
:X
....,
~
0
[ /)
'
:::0
-
>
:X
:X
[/)
~
[/)
-~
("')
:X
Downloaded by [Australian Catholic University] at 03:22 25 October 2017
68
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Fig. 32. Potters marks.
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
Fig. 33. Alabaster Vessels.
69
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
70
TABLE 4. Frequency of alabaster vessels in relation with other grave goods.
Downloaded by [Australian Catholic University] at 03:22 25 October 2017
No.
Grave No.
1
1201
Sex
Grave
Type
Period
No. of
Objects
M
2
I
9
I
IV
Alabaster
Vessels
Shape
1
conical bowl
14
1
conical bowl
63
5
mortars,
cylindrical
bowl, flagon
conical bowl
Note
2
1300
F
2
3
1400
F
2
4
1402
?
1
1
1403
?
"'
F
1
5
9
III
6
1
6
1410
F
2
I
8
1
cylindrical
mortar
conical bowl
7
1412
M
2
I
7
1
conical bowl
8
1413
M
2
1
chalice
goat kid
1414
M
1
I
I
6
9
11
1
conical bowl
10
1416
F
2
I
7
1
conical bowl
goat kid
stone beads
stone bead
11
1503
M
2
?
1
2
12
1515
M
2
I
8
2
13
1516
M
2
I
8
2
conical bowl
14
1517
M
2
I
7
1
conical bowl
stone bead
goat kid lapis
lazuli
comelian
15
1601
M
2
II
8
1
conical bowl
16
1610
F
1
II
6
1
conical bowl
17
1613
F
2
I
6
1
M
2
I
3
1
comelian,
limestone
stone bead
19
1615
M
4
III
56
1
20
1700
?
2
II
8
1
stone bead
seal
conical Bowl goat kid stone
beads
hi-conical
goat kid
chalice
bone/metal
tools
cylindrical
carnelian
jade, flagon
mortar
conical bowl
7
1
conical cowl
Bead, cloth
6
1
conical bowl
goat kid
12
I
conical bowl
goat kid
6
1
conical bowl
11
2
conical bowl
stone bead
stone bead
18
1614a
23
1706
M
2
24
1710
Child
1
I
I
I
II
25
1716
F
2
I
21
1703
F
2
22
1704
M
2
8
I
10
I
conical bowl
3
1
conical bowl
27
1900
F
2
I
I
29
2501
?
2
II
30
2505
Child
1
II
3
1
conical bowl
31
2513
M
2
I
10
2
conical bowl
26
1717
F
hi-conical
chalice
conical bowl
2
flagon, seal
mat, basket
comelian,
lapis lazuli
goat kid. bone
tools
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
No.
Grave No.
Sex
Grave
Period
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Type
No. of
Objects
71
Alabaster
Shape
Note
Vessels
33
2703
?
2
I
12
1
34
2801
F
2
I
6
1
35
2810
M
2
I
14
2
36
37
38
2811
2812
2902
F
Child
I
1
1
stone bead
conical bowl
shell beads
II
4
2
1
conical bowl
II
F
2
1
2
1
conical bowl
39
2903
M
2
II
3
1
cylindrical
flagon
interesting to note that this type also contained, in
addition to the alabaster objects, a larger number of kids,
ornamental beads and seals when compared to any other
grave type (Fig. 34:c).
The majority of graves (84.6%) contained only one
conical alabaster bowl, but in certain graves more than
one vessel was found. The only grave with more than
two vessels was a catacomb, IUG.1400, which had four
different alabaster vessels. While the vessels of other
graves usually consisted of conical shaped bowls, the
vessels from IUG 1400, were four different sized and
shaped mortars.
Typology of alabaster vessels (Fig. 35: a-n)
Typologically, the alabaster vessels of the graveyard
are divided into two main groups, conical and
cylindrical vessels:
1. Conical Vessels
Conical shaped vessels have been produced widely in
the basin of the Hynnand civilisation at Mundigak and
Shahr-i Sokhta (Ciarla 1979). According to the shape of
the vessels and their distribution, one can assume that
there was a mass production of this type of bowls in the
whole area. The production of this shape was much
quicker than other, more complicated, shapes needing less
energy and time. Conical bowls have a very smooth
profile. The size of this group of vessels is varied: the
height of the side ranges from 2.5 to 13 em., and the width
of the opening is between 4.9 and 19.3 em. These vessels
conical Bowl three
skeletons
conical bowl limestone
comelian
beads
conical bowl, comelian/
hi-conical
lapis lazuli
metal dagger
chalice
bone tool
have a flat base, straight and bevelled rims. Conical
vessels are subdivided into conical and hi-conical shapes.
la. Conical vessels: the base of the cone is the open
mouth of the vessel. These bowls make up the most
popular group of vessels in the graveyard and are
divided into three different groups :
la.l. Tall Vessels: IUB.1201/3, IUC.l300/9,
IUG.141017, IUG.1412/1, IUG.l414/ll, IUG.1416/4,
IUL.l516/1, IUL.1516/5, IUL.1517/4, IUA.1700/1,
IUA.1703/5, IUA.1704/6, IUA.1706/11, HYE.2505/1,
HTR.2703/10, IUF.2812/1, HYJ. 2902/1
la.2. Medium Vessels: IUG.1403/6, IUK.l613/5,
IUA.1710/6, HYБ.2501/2, HYБ.2513/4, HTR.2702/11,
IUF.2801/3, IUF.2810/12
la.3. Small Vessels: IUK.1610/3, IUA.l71717,
HRJ.1900/5
lb. Hi-conical vessels: This group consists oftwo cones
attached to each other. The area of the base of the bigger
cone is the mouth of the vessel and the area of the base
of the smaller cone is the base of the vessel. A total of
three hi-conical vessels were found: IUG.l413/6,
IUK.1614a/1, IUF.2810/ll.
2. Cylindrical vessels
The main shape of this group of alabaster vessels is
cylindrical. These are divided into four groups:
2a. Simple cylinder shape or small mortars. These are
very simple vessels with a closed mouth, flaring rim and
flat base; IUG.l400/60, IUG.1403/6, HYJ.2903/2.
1/!
:/~.
и-и
-и-
-
--
-
I
_ _ __
--
Type4
TypeS
Type2
I
c. Distribution of Alabaster vessels according to the grave types
Type9
a Distribution of Alabaster vessels according to the sex of the inhumed
2...V/
1~
4~-
6-V /
/'
1
:;;--~~-ииии
s(
u./
~~--i /i -
16~..-'
/8
20-/
/
-
\
\
\
\
II
~
Ill
~
IV
"
и==-
=--
.
.. и-
Fig. 34. Alabaster vessels.
+2 vessels
2 vessels
-
-ииии--ииии
-.. иии-------'
?
I vessel
.. и и - - - - - - - -
d. Number of vessels in the graves
--и---~и
- - - - ... и- ....?.. ии-иии
и--и -
~ t~---= ~e::-:.
:f
8
10 -и
E~=[и~~~----и-~--~------ --=------и- ~- - - и -
22.~~-
ut
::f
~!I~
b. Distribution of Alabaster vessels according to the period of occupation
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
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r/J
1:!:1
t:J
,...,
e'"""
r/J
>
z
r/J
,...,
?:'
1:!:1
"1::1
'Tj
o
>
t-
z
?:'
e
0
'-
-....J
N
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
73
b.2501.2
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2
I
0
e.1700.1
C;2513.4
?
I
d.1416.4
I
I
L.....L-L-1
0
1
2
I
I
I
0
1
2
I
3
3
g.1400.26
...............
0
t
2
3
j.1416a.1
i.2810.11
0
1<.1615.24
2
t
I
sI
[[]
n.1400.53
1.2903.2
0
I
?
S
I
Fig. 35. Alabaster vessels.
1
2
3
I
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
74
2b. Concave cylinders. These are cylindrical mortars
with a concave body, flat base and everted rim;
IUG.l400/23, 53, IUG.l615/24.
2c. High-base cylinders. These are cylindrical mortars
with a flat rim, straight body and high base,
IUG.l400/6.
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2d. Cylindrical body. These are another type of simple
mortars with everted rim, IUG.l4'00/27.
SMALL FINDS
by S. Baghestani
1. Seals
Five of the 112 burials with objects yielded one seal
each, i.e. two cylinder seals and three compartmented
seals made of alabaster, limestone and copper/bronze
(Table 5). The low percentage of burials with seals (c.
4.5%) differs significantly from that of previous
campaigns by the Italian mission. 28 All graves are
simple (IUK.1605, IUK.l610) or bi-partite pits
(HRJ.l900, IUL.l505, IUA.l713), belonging to
females, except for IUA.l713 (Fig. 36: a). The fact that
seals are predominantly assigned to women should be
related to their function as controllers of domestic food
supplies, as already proposed by the author (Baghestani
1997: 149-52).
The presence of seals near the femur of the skeletons
of Graves IUK 1605 and IUK 1610 indicates that they
were probably attached to their owners' belt and not to
their arms or chests.
Both cylinder seals are made of limestone,
resembling some of the impressions found earlier on the
site (Amiet 1983: 199-210; Amiet & Tosi 1978). The
first seal from grave IUK.l61 0 is decorated with striated
opposite triangles similar to the more sophisticated hut
motif of Piedmont style seals and should thus be dated
later than Early Dynastic I. The grave inventory, a richly
painted pot and a pear-shaped beaker typical of period II,
both corroborate this date (Fig. 36: a. 1610.5). The
second cylinder seal (1900/3) (Fig. 36: a. 1900.3) is
rather simply decorated with a zigzag line enclosed by
three parallel rows, probably an abbreviation of the
herringbone pattern. It is similar to a cylinder seal from
Tell Braq and an archaic seal impression from Ur, dated
to the middle of the third millennium B.C. (Amiet 1983:
200 fig. la; Collon 1987: 23 fig. 50). Furthermore, grave
HRJ.l900 contained seven plain and painted Buff Ware
vessels from Period II, an alabaster cosmetic flagon and
a copper wand.
Grave IUL.l505 yielded a square compartmented
seal of white stone, probably alabaster, with a high arcshaped handle (Fig. 36: a. 1505.16). It is decorated with
a voided cross, frequently attested for square and
circular chlorite seals from Shahr-i Sokhta and is
comparable with a seal impression from the Shahdad
cemetery (Hakemi 1997: 672, Mb.l, no. 37 stamped
marks).
Two metallic compartmented seals from periods II
and III, most likely made of copper alloys, are hitherto
unparalleled. The openwork square seal IUA.l713/5
(Fig. 36: a. 1713.5) is heavily corroded and bears a tiny,
broken arc-shaped handle at the rear. It is decorated with
eight alternating openwork circles and triangles,
TABLE 5. Glyptics.
Inv.no.
Material
Type
Dimension
(em.)
Shape,
decoration
1610/5
limestone,
white
limestone,
light grey
cylinder seal
1: 3.5, d.: 1.2
cylinder seal
1:2,
IUK.1610 (f) p. I-II
Piedmont
style
zigzag pattern HRJ.1900 (f) p. I-II
1900/3
1505/16
alabaster
1605/17
Cu-br
1713/5
Cu-br
Provenance, Date
gender
d.: 1.1
compartmente
d seal
compartmente
d seal
1.7 X 1.7, t.:
0.3
1: 2.3, w.: 2.9,
t.: 0.4
compartmente 2.7 X 2.5, t.:
0.2
d seal
IUL.1505 (f) per. I
square, cross
voided
standing bird IUK.1605 (f) per. III
(bustard)
square,
rosette
IUA.1713 (m) per. II
L.: length; D.: diameter; W: width; Th.: thickness
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
symmetrically arranged around a central circle to form a
rosette. Incised lines surround the circles and triangles.
This seal proves that openwork appears on metallic
compartmented seals at Shahr-i Sokhta as early as
period II. On the other hand, it is a perfect example for
common motifs of metallic and lithic compartmented
seals. 29 Again the nearest parallel is a seal impression
from the Shahdad cemetery (Hakemi 1997; Baghestani
1997: 277, figs. 360-61). IUK.1605/15 represents a fat
standing bird with stylised plumage, probably a bustard
(Fig. 36: a.1615.15). This seal is extraordinary both for
its design and technique. Three thin metal strips,
forming the outline, interior decoration and the feet,
were soldered on a plaque, which was subsequently cut
into shape to fit.JO
2. Beads
Thirty-nine burials (or 35% of all) yielded 426 beads,
either separately or as part of bracelets and necklaces,
almost equally attributed to women ( 16 burials) and men
(15 burials) and more rarely to infants (3 burials) (Fig.
37: a-j). The gender of five deceased with beads could
not be identified. The majority of the burials are dated to
periods I-II along with some rare examples from
subsequent periods.
Shahr-i Sokhta beads are made of a great variety of
materials, especially semi-precious stones, i.e. lapis
lazuli (Fig. 38: a), comelian, chalcedony, turquoise and
probably jasper. Further materials are alabaster,
limestone or calcite, bone, shell and terracotta (Table 6).3 1
Gold, also used for decorating lapis beads, is as rare as
light green kaolin, glass paste and frit, which obviously
were meant to replace more valuable turquoise beads.
Except for lapis or turquoise, most semi-precious stones
are available from nearby mountainous areas. According
to petrologic examinations of waste samples from the
75
site, lapis was imported from ancient quarries in the
Pamir Mountains, Sar-i Sang in Badakhshan
(Afghanistan) and the Chagai Hills in Pakistan (Delmas
& Casanova 1990: 502). Ancient turquoise mines have
been reported in the vicinity ofNeishabur on the eastern
slopes of the Elburz Mountains and in the Kyzylkum area
(Tosi 1974, 148 ff.).
Beads of comelian, a reddish coloured variety of
chalcedony, are most often recorded (155 items),
followed by beads of limestone or calcite (124 items),
lapis (54 items, 6 with a gold strip), chalcedony (41
items), turquoise (8 items) and jasper (1 item) (Fig. 39:
b). Earlier excavations of the cemetery yielded different
distribution figures, especially for periods II-III, when
turquoise beads prevailed (Tosi 1974: 157).
Except for a bracelet with twelve shell beads, other
materials such as jasper, kaolin, glass paste and
terracotta were more rarely utilised (Fig. 39: b). Only
two genuine gold beads of ovoid shape were found with
a female burial in IUA.1703. The third example from the
infant burial IUL.1515 was plated with gold. It was
found together with a cylindrical lapis bead, decorated
with a thin strip of gold. Similar lapis beads with one
gold strip were found in IUF.2809/1, whereas the
examples from IUK.1607 are framed by two gold strips.
Most beads were produced locally as demonstrated
by large amounts of wasters from the Craftsmen Area in
squares EWK /EWP. This is also proven by grave
HTR.2701, which contained a "hoard" with lithic drillheads, blades and unfinished beads, certainly belonging
to a craftsman (Fig. 38: ~).
The beads from the cemetery can roughly be divided
into circular and flat types according to the section.
Eleven types have been distinguished so far. Annular
beads of different sizes are often found singly, while
cylindrical and semi-conical beads appear most
frequently in pairs ;:tS elements of necklaces. When
TABLE 6. Beads.
Inv.no.
Material
Item
1300/11
bead
stone, grey
130112
2 beads
stone, red and blue
1404 a/ 45
bead
stone, black
1408/10
necklace, 21 beads
1410/9
necklace, 54 beads
10 comelian, 10 limestone., 1
chalcedony
22 limestone, 15 comelian, 8
lapis, 8 chalced., 1 turquoise
D. (em.) Th. (em.) L. (em.)
3.4
3.7
1.1
1
Provenance,
gender
Period
IUC.1300 (f)
I
IUC.1301 (m)
?
IUG.l404a(m)
IV
IUG.1408 (m)
IV
IUG.1410 (i)
I
76
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Inv.no.
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1414/1
Item
bead
Material
Stone
D. (em.) Th. (em.) L. (em.)
3.5
Provenance,
gender
Period
IUG.l414 (m)
I
IUG.l414 (m)
I
IUG.l416 (f)
I
1414/10
necklace, 20 beads
10 cornelian, 10 limestone
1416/5
bead
Brown stone
151111
3 beads
1 carnelian, 2 limestone
IUL.1511 (i)
?
151311
2 beads
Turquoise, chalcedony
IUL.l513 (m)
?
1515/7
5 beads
IUL.1515 (m)
I
1516/9
3 beads
1 gold plaited, 3 lapis (1 w.
!fold strip), 1 chalcedony
turquoise, cornelian, limestone
IUL.l516 (m)
II
151717
necklace, 24 beads
IUL.l517 (m)
II
1519/9
bead
12 carnelian, 12limestone or
calcite
beige alabaster
1520/8
bead
1601/8
1604/4
3.8
1.1
0.3-0.5
0.5-0.7
3.4
1
IUL.1519 (m)
I
beige alabaster
3.3
1.1
IUL.1520 (f)
I
bead
beige alabaster
3.3
1.2
IUK.l601 (m)
II
bead
red stone
3.4
1
IUK.l604 (f)
I
1605/20
bead
cornelian
3.1
1.5
IUK.l605 (f)
III
1607/4
5 beads
IUK.l607 (m)
II
1610/4-5
2 beads
2 carnelian, 3 lapis (2 w. gold
strips)
pinkish carnelian, black stone
IUK.l610 (f)
II?
1613/3-4
2 beads
IUK.l613 (f)
II
IUK.l615 (m)
II
IUA.l702 (f)
II?
IUA.l703 (f)
II?
1615/ 56--57 2 beads
2.8
1.6,
grey and buff terracotta
3.5; 1.8
1; 0.8
veined chalcedony, dark green
jasper
1 cornelian, 4 bone, 1
chalcedony
52 cornelian, 8 limestone, 8
lapis, 3 chalcedony, 2 gold
0.6; 1.5
1702/3
6 beads
1703/6
necklace, 73 beads
1716/11
bead
stone
1717/8
bead
1718/6
1
-; 3.5
2.9; 4.7
3
1.1
IUA.l716 (f)
I
terracotta
3.5
1
IUA.l717 (f)
II
bead
stone
0.4
1.6
IUA.l718 (m)
II?
1901/1
bead
stone
HRJ.l901 (f)
?
HRJ.l902 (-)
?
GTS 2000_(5, 1 f,
1 m, 2 i, 1 nd) .
IBP.2300 (f)
II
2 turquoise, 1 chalcedony
HYE.2501 (-)
II?
3 beads
limestone, frit, chalcedony
llYN .2600 (-)
II
2701/8
3 beads
HTR2701 (-)
II
2800/7
3 beads
limestone, chalcedony,
unfinished
turquoise, lapis, white stone
IUF.2800 (m)
II
IUF 2801 (f)
I
IUF.2809 (f)
?
1902/1
bead
stone
2000/6--8
3 beads
turquoise, glass paste
2300/4-6
3 beads
chalcedony, glass paste, kaolin
2501/3
3 beads
2600/4
2801/5
necklace, 91 beads
2809/1
necklace, 14 beads
46 cornelian, 44 limestone, 1
lapis
14 lapis (3 w. gold strip)
0.7-0.8
av. 0.3
0.5-0.6
OA-0.7
?
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
Item
Inv.no.
Material
D. (em.) Th. (em.) L. (em.)
77
Provenance,
gender
IUF.2810 (m)
Period
II
2810/13
necklace, 49 beads
2811/3
bead
13 comelian, 14 limestone, 13
lapis, 8 chalcedony, 1
turquoise
veined alabaster
IUF.2811 (m)
II?
2811/5
necklace, 17 beads
3 lapis, 14 chalcedony
IUF.2811 (m)
II?
2812/2
necklace, 12 beads
shell
IUF.2812 (i)
II
3.4
1.1
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D.: diameter; Th.: thickness; L.: length
combined, semi-conical beads form a hi-conical
element, resembling elongated hi-conical beads of a
larger size (type 7), which mostly occur as single beads.
Flat triangular, conical, lozenge-shaped and lentoid
beads (types 8-11) are more rarely found. They either
appear as single beads (2501/3) or as central parts of
necklaces (2810/13).
Fifteen, or 40%, of the burials contained a large
single bead of the annular type (diameter: 2.8-3.7 em.,
thickness: 1-1.6 em.). They are made of stone, alabaster
or terracotta and are found in connection with both male
and female burials of all periods. In some cases
(IUG.1414, IUF.2811) they appear together with
necklaces. Salvatori and Vidale labelled comparable
objects from the Central Quarters as spindle whorls, an
identification to be excluded for extant examples, which
show no traces of abrasion at the central perforations.
(Salvatori & Vidale 1997: 77, fig. 249, 1-6).
In sum, this evidence indicates that these "beads"
were not made for decorative purposes, but for a specific
function, perhaps apotropaic or for a still unknown
funerary rite. They were mostly found in the pelvic area
or near the femur. The example from burial IUG.1404a
was still threaded on to a 10 em. long wooden stick
(1404 a/45), whose function is also unknown.
Fifteen, or 40%, of the burials contained two to six
beads, most frequently found near the head, pelvis,
femur or at the feet of the deceased. In some cases they
were inside vessels, which suggests a dedicatory rather
than ornamental function.
Only ten or one-quarter of the burials contained
necklaces, predominantly belonging to male deceased.
The high percentage of male burials with necklaces (6
items) suggests a dedicatory function, too. Necklaces
consist of 12 beads (IUF.2812) to 91 beads from the
female burial IUF.280 1. There is a clear predilection for
combining red (cornelian) and white (limestone or
calcite), sometimes associated with single beads made
oflapis, turquoise, chalcedony and even gold (1408/10,
2801/5). Lapis beads are frequently combined with
whitish translucent chalcedony (281115).
3. Metal objects
Very few metal objects were recovered; they were
mainly cosmetic wands, pins, weapons and implements.
Most of them are greenish corroded, indicating copper
as the initial ore3 2 (Table 7).
3 .1. Mirrors
Two mirrors in the shape of simple and slightly
concave discs with flattened edges were found in female
burials from periods III-IV (1400/58 and 1605/14).
Mirrors of this type are widely attested at Iranian sites,
e.g. Susa and the Shahdad cemetery, but are also known
from Bactria (Northern Afghanistan) and Margiana
(Turkmenistan). 33 IUC.1400/58 was found inside a
circular wooden box (1400/57), lying in a basket.
3 .2. Wands and pin
Metal wands and a pin were recovered from eight
burials, dating to periods II-III (Fig. 36: c). Four wands
belong to females, aged 18-50 (IUG.l400, IUK.l605,
IUA.1705, HRJ.1900), one to a child (IUG.1408) and
two to males, aged,.45-57 (IUG.1405, IUK.1615). All
were accompanied by a small lithic or clay flagon,
which served most likely as a cosmetic container.
The wands vary from 12.5 em. to 18 em. in length
with a maximum diameter of 0.5 em. The pin from
HMY.1800 is much shorter and slightly thicker. Five
types have been identified, including a pin, on the basis
of its similarity to one of the wand types. Pin 1800/3
ends in an S-shaped tip, much resembling a needle (type
1). The first of four wand types has an additional
detached hook-shaped protrusion.
Wands with flat lozenge-shaped tips are most often
recorded, including an indented variety (1615/55),
78
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
II?
181M
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.
?
.
1!105.16
1606.17
1713.5
a. Seals
~~
ии'
~; :~
2000.5
-
D
130LI
2302.2
16148.4
~
2513.8
2513.10
Cl~]~
b. Bones
y
2
3b
3a
4
c. Wands/Pins
Type L 18003- Type 2. 19003- Type 3a. 1400.6111405.23- Type 3b. 1615.55- Type4. 1605.15- Type 5. 1408.7
Fig. 36. Seals, bones and wands/pins.
79
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
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c. 1517
d. 2811
b.2810
a. 2801
'$""\
f
/~
g. 2800
J
I
~
"
f. 1515
j.2300
i. 2510
h. 1511
e.1703
Fig. 37. Necklaces and beads.
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80
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
81
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
TABLE 7. Metal objects.
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Inv.no.
Item
Mat
L. (em.)
W.(cm.)
Th. (em.)
D. (em.)
Provenience,
gender
Period.
1400/58
mirror
culbr
0.2
8.8
IUG.l400 (f)
1605/14
mirror
culbr
0.2
7.5
IUK.l605 (f)
III
1400/61
wand
culbr
12.5
0.4
IUG.l400(f)
IV
1405/23
wand
culbr
18
0.5
IUG.l405 (m)
III
140817
wand
culbr
0.3
IUG.l408 (i)
IV
1605/15
warid
culbr
12.7, tip: 1.1
x2.5
16
0.3
IUK.l605 (f)
III
1615/55
culbr
14
0.6
IUK.l615 (m)
II
culbr
Max. 8.7
0.3-0.5
IUA.1705 (f)
III
1900/3
wand,
fragment
wand,
fragment
wand
culbr
17.7
0.3
HRJ.l900 (f)
II
1800/3
pin
culbr
8
0.6
HMY.l800 (-)
II
1614 a/ 2-3
2 daggers,
fragmentary
tip of a
triangular
blade
triangular
blade
3 rods,
fragment
culbr
-
IUK.1614 a (m)
II
culbr
4.8
IUA.1708 (i)
II
culbr
20
IUF.2810 (i)
II
culbr
3.7, 3.8; 4.4
HYE.2504 (-)
I?
1705/53
1708/11
2810/10
2504/5
max. 6
which resembles a stepped cross. Similar pins are
frequently attested at looted "Bactrian" burials (Pottier
1984). Type 4 is also indented, but has an oval outline.
It compares to an example from Altyn Depe, found in
a Namazga IV period burial (Masson 1988, pl.
XXXVII, 5).
3.3. Weapons and implements
Metal weapons are extremely rare and were only
recovered from three burials, all dating to period II. The
best preserved example is a long triangular blade with a
straight tang from grave IUF.2180, belonging to an 11year-old child. The infant burial IUA.l708 yielded a
second blade, from which only the tip survived.
Comparable blades come from the Gonur cemetery,
Khurab and Susa, all dating to the Ur ill period (Pottier
1984: 14). Two daggers from the second male burial in
grave IUK.1614 disintegrated when they came in contact
with the air and were too fragmentary for restoration.
Three rod fragments from grave HYE.2504, of the
transitional period 1-11, are the only metal objects of this
period recorded so far. Two of them have a flattened or
globular tip and may have been used for bead making.
0.4
IV
4. Lithic objects
4.1. Flagons (Fig. 40: a-d)
Seven burials, dating to periods 11-IY, contained
small tubular, square or hom-shaped flagons, and were
accompanied by copper/bronze wands. The flagons are
usually attributed to females, but also appear in male (2)
and infant (1) burials. Comparable, though larger objects
from Turkmenistan and Bactrian sites, were identified as
lamps on the basis of chemical analysis of the contents,
a lead-based subs4ltlce (Pottier 1984: 38f., fig. 37,
261--64; pl. XXXI, 261.264). Shahr-i Sokhta's flagons
are too small for such an analysis, but they certainly
served as containers for cosmetic substances, i.e. kohl.
All flagons are made of alabaster, chlorite or clay and
have a separate lid with a small cylindrical perforation in
order to fit the wand. The lid is usually made of the same
material, except for the example from grave IUG.l408,
which has a black chlorite trunk and a lid of white,
veined alabaster.
Three types of flagons are attested, covering the
whole chronological range. The first and apparently
earliest type consist of flagons which are almost
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
82
TYPE
MATERIAL
p
GRAVE
1.Annular
Alabaster, carnelian, terracotta
0
=
== 0
10
2. Cylindrical
Chalcedony, kaolin, lapis lazuli,
=0
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5. Globular
==
I иII
Bone. carnelian, limestone
lUG 1408/10,1UG 141019.1UG 14141110. IUL 151619.
IUL 151717.1UA 170213.1UA 170316, IUF 260115.
IUF 2810/13
1-11
IV
lapis lazuli, chalcedony,
lUG 141019.1UL 151517, IUA 170316.1BP 2300/4,
HYN260014
0
=o
limestone, gold, gold plated
=и=и
II
II
Frit, glass paste
IBP 230015, HYN 260014
Alabaster, chalcedony, limestone
lUG 1406110.1UL 151111.1UL 1515fl.IUK 1607/4.
HYN 2600/4, IUF 281115.1UF 2810113
6. Elongated ovoid
=o
I иII
IV
---
- ?
7. Biconical
...,
lUG 1411l/9,1UL 1515fl, IUL 151619. IUK 1607/4.
IUA 170213. IUA 170316.1BP 2300/6. HYN 2600/4
IUF 260115,1UF 2809110,1UF 2810/13
lapis/gold, turquoise
3. Conical
4. Ovoid
IUC 1300/11,1UC 130112.1UG 14048145, lUG 1414/1,
lUG 141411,1UG 1416/5, IUL 151619.1UL 151919,
IUL 152018. IUK 1601/8, IUK 1604/4, IUK 1605120.
IUK 161014, IUK 1613/4, IUK 1615156, IUA 1702/3.
IUA 170316.1UA 1716/11.1UA 1717/8,1UF 281113
Chalcedony, jasper
lUG 141019.1UL 151311, IUK 1615157. HYE 250113,
IUF 2810113.1UF 261115
1-11
B. Flat triangular
~
0
lapis lazuli
IUA281115
Chalcedony
IUF 2810/13
II
9. Flat conical
40
II
10. lozenge-shaped
0 t
Chalcedony, turquoise
IUL 151311, IUA 170316
Turquoise
HYE250113
II
11. Flat lentoid
?
0
II
a. Preliminary typology of Shahr-e Sukheteh beads
180
155
160
140
124
120
100
80
60
20
...
41
40
ft
1
1
~
~
2
3
i i i...
i=
~
1
1
2
0
~
i
I'
...lJ
ID
i
i
4
-
~.:..;.
1?
13 ?
)>
~ (f &>
~ iIIi' "0I╗ .a'2
... ?? c:0 m. ? i
.
::1
!{
t ???
b. Materials used for bead making
Fig. 39. Beads.
I'
::1
i ;иg i9.
r-
f
Д,
?
0
::1
'<
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
Fig. 40. Flagons
83
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84
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
85
TABLE 8. Flagons.
Inv.no.
Item
Material
L. (em.)
W. (em.)
D. (em.)
Provenance,
Period
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gender
1400/56
flagon
1405/17
flagon
1408/9
flagon
alabaster,
white
alabaster
10.8
2.2-4.3
8.7
lUG 1400 (f)
max.4
IV
lUG 1405 (m)
III
lUG 1408 (i)
IV
IUK 1605 (f)
III
1605/16
flagon
chlorite, lid:
alabaster
alabaster
1615/54
flagon
alabaster
7.4
max. 4.2
!UK 1615 (m)
II
1705/54
flagon
clay
5.8
2.1-4
IUA 1705 (f)
III
1900/7
flagon
alabaster
7
2.7-3.5
HRJ 1900 (f)
I-II
1900/8
Lid
alabaster
1
3.5
HRJ 1900 (-)
I-II
4.2, lid: 0. 7
4.8
cylindrical and decorated with small, incised circles
(1900/7). Flagons of the second type are more
sophisticated and appear in period III. They are of
conical shape and may be square (1605/16) or circular in
section (1705/54, 1408/9). A variant with a slightly
everted foot appears during the latest phase of Shahr-i
Sokhta (1400/55-56). Most of these flagons have only a
small cavity, except for 1705/54, which is hollowed out.
Flagons of the third type are attested as early as
period II. The cones with a curved tip remind us of an
animal's hom (1405/17, 1615/54). All three types are
attested from burials and domestic contexts at Altyn
Depe (periods Namazga IV-V), the first type dating to
the end of period V (Masson 1988: pl.XLI). Conical and
tubular flagons are also recorded from illicit excavations
in Bactria (Pottier 1984).
4.2. Lithic objects and tools (Fig. 38: b, d, e, f, g)
Lithic objects and tools, predominantly for domestic
and industrial purposes, were recovered from eight
graves, dating to periods I-II. Two small flat stones from
the male burial IUA.1718 and the infant burial
HYE.2511 probably served as grinding slabs, perhaps
for cosmetic substances. This is especially noticeable
with the stone from the first burial, which has a very
smooth surface. An oval stone with a shallow carved out
cavity (1713/8) (Fig. 38: g) certainly served as a
grinding slab for similar purposes. The rod-shaped
object with triangular section and rounded ends from
HYI.2903 may likewise be identified as a pestle.
Plain cubical objects were found in burials IUL.1519
and HYI.2901 (Fig. 37: f). The frrst made of volcanic
rock and weighing only 75 grams, has one evenly
smoothened surface and may have been used for
polishing skins or comparable soft materials. Grave
1.2-2.5
HYI.2901 yielded a second lithic object of spherical
shape with unknown function, presumably a sling stone.
Besides unfinished beads and wasters, burial
HTR.2701 contained a set of five minute, partly broken
cylindrical drill-heads made of jasper with ascending
diameters (19-26 mm.) and several intact or fragmentary
flint blades with triangular section, all well-known
lapidary tools. Its inventory compares to that of the gemcutter's graves G.12 and G.77 from earlier excavations
(Piperno 1976: 9-14, fig. 2). The infant burial IUA.1708
yielded three further triangular flint blades.
5. Clay and terracotta objects
Except for terracotta beads, very few other clay
objects were recorded, all of which date to periods I-II.
Grave IUL.1500 (period I-II) yielded a unique terracotta
object resembling a stylised pomegranate with a tiny hole
at the tip, which probably served as a perfume bottle (Fig.
38: h). Most probably, it belonged, to the female
IUL.1500 a, who was accompanied by two infants.
The function of th~bi-conical clay object from the
male burial IUB.1201, which resembles an unfinished
chalice, is uncertain. A small rectangular hole is preserved
in the centre of its cavity, probably for holding a stick.
Further items are a spindle whorl from the male
burial IUK.1615 and a reel from the twelve-year-old
infant's burialiUA.1700.
6. Bone objects (Fig. 36: b)
Five burials from periods I-II contained bone objects,
predominantly long flat sticks with sharpened ends
86
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
TABLE 9. Bone objects.
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Inv.no.
Item
L. (em.)
W. (em.)
Th. (em.)
Provenance,
gender
Period
1301/1
rod
16.5
1
0.1
IUC.1301 (m)
?
1614 a/4
rod
8.5
1
max. 0.5 em.
IUK.1614 a(-)
II
2000/5
7.7
1.4
0.4
GTS. 2000 (-)
II
2302/2
rod,
fragmentary
rod
18.3
1.4
2513/8
awl
10.5
2513/10
edge of a lid
6.5
0.4
IPB.2302 (i)
I-II
Dm:0.7
HYE.2513 (-)
I
1.5
HYE.2513 (-)
I
1.7
(IUC.1301, IUK.1614a, GTS.2000, and IPB.2302). The
sticks vary from 8.5-18.3 em. in length with a maximum
width of 1.4 em. (Table 9). Their precise function is
uncertain. A rod from the Italian excavations in grave
IRD.311 was used for engraving or painting pottery
(Piperno 1979: 132 f., fig. 7). Comparable ivory rods
with geometrical decoration were found in the "priests'
tomb" cf Masson 1988 at Altyn Depe, resembling an
item from Mohenjo-Daro, which probably served as a
game stick (Masson 1988: 65, pl.XIX, item 2;
Anonymous 1987:273, fig. C 79c; Kenoyer 1998).
The awl from HYE.2513 compares to those from the
Eastern Residential Area and Central Quarters and is
probably cut out of the ulna of a sheep or goat (Salvatori
and Vidale 1997: 76).
7. Wooden burial objects
Wooden objects are rare, but remarkably well
preserved (Table 10). The majority was found in
catacomb IUG.1400, a period IV collective burial with
two females (IUG.1400, 1400a), a 50-60 year old male
(IUG.1400b) and a 6--8 year old child (IUG.1400c). The
most peculiar object is a circular mirror box
(IUG.1400/57-58), consisting of a conical base with
recessed edge, which fits a similarly shaped lid (Fig. 41:
h). The mirror box lay inside a circular basket together
with an intact, rectangular wooden comb with a crescentshaped handle (IUG.1400/62) (Fig. 41: g). It is matched
by a fragmentary example from grave 1404, lying next to
a male (Fig. 41: f). Comparable combs have already been
found in the Eastern Residential Area and the Central
Quarters (Tosi 1969: 365 f, figs. 207-8; Costantini 1977:
36--39; Salvatori & Vidale 1998: 76, fig. 243, 1-5). An
ivory comb with incised circles from the Harappan layers
of Miri Qalat (period IV) in Kech-Makran corroborates
this late date (Besenval1997: 27, fig. 37).
Further remains from the female burial IUG.1400
include a deep conical ladle with a short handle, lying
inside a plain buff ware pot (IUG.1400/10), which
clearly identifies it as a utensil for pouring liquids (Fig.
41: e). It bears a small suspension hole at the top, still
containing a small wooden nail. The ladle is heavily
riddled with holes, probably caused by termites.3 4
A perforated wooden cone from the same grave,
which resembles a spindle whorl, is equally marked by
insect damage (IUG.1400 b-c/10). It bears a
TABLE 10. Wooden Objects.
Inv.no.
Item
L. (em.)
W. (em.)
Th. (em.)
D. (em.)
8.1
Provenance,
gender
Period
1400/55
ladle
IUG.1400 (f)
IV
1400/57
mirror box
2.9
17
IUG.1400 (f)
IV
1400/57
lid
2.5
16
IUG.l400 (f)
IV
1400/62
comb
9.3
4.1-8.2
IUG.1400 (f)
IV
1404 a/ 73
8.5
6.5
IUG.1404 a (m)
IV
1404 a/45
comb,
fragmentary
rod
1400 b--c/10
conical lid
10
1
2
3.5
IUG.1404 a (m)
IV
IUG.1400 b-e (m/i)
IV
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
longitudinal perforation, still containing a small wooden
nail. The cone served as a stopper for a small buff ware
jar (IUG.l400 b-c/9), similar to clay stoppers from
domestic contexts. A comparable wooden stopper was
found in a kitchen in square RYL (Tosi 1969: 366, fig.
218; Costantini 1977: 27-29, Inv.no. 6183).
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8. Basketry (Fig. 41: b-e, d; Figs. 10: b, d; 12: a-e)
Seven graves yielded wickerwork products, well
enough preserved to reconstruct the manufacturing
techniques. Furnishing the grave with a rush mat, on
which the deceased were laid, appears to be one of the
peculiarities. of Shahr-i Sokhta's funerary customs. A
different utilisation is attested from the Shahdad
cemetery, where mats covered the deceased (Hakemi
1997: 62 f.).
Shahr-i Sokha's rush mats were found in four burials,
dating to periods II (HTR.2700, HRJ.1900) to IV
(IUG.l400). While the mat from grave HRJ.l900
survived only in traces, the example from the female
burial IUG.1400 is almost intact, measuring 130 x 50 em.
(Fig. 10: d). The plaited mat is brownish, discoloured by
the soil. Impressions of a similar mat were found on the
floor of the so-called burial chamber of priests at Altyn
Depe (excavation 7, room 7) (Masson 1988: 67, fig.
22.2). Circular baskets of different sizes appear more
often and are attested throughout periods II-IY. The
largest example (IUG.l400 b-c/13) has a diameter of33
em., and the fragmentary basket 140511 was preserved to
a height of 12 em. Out of seven graves, one (IUG. 1414)
contained up to five baskets, all attributed to a male. The
infant buried nearby was equipped with the only
wickerwork saucer recorded so far (IUG.1404 b/21 ).
One of the females buried in grave IUG.l400 had
four baskets, two of which contained vessels, mortars
and cosmetic objects (IUG.1400/25, 1400/54). Baskets
are usually made of twisted reed cords, which were
curled up and fixed with thin strings of straw to form the
bottom and the trunk. Altyn Depe's "chamber of priests"
yielded the impression of a similar basket (Masson
1988: fig. 22.3).
9. Textiles and leather (Fig. 10: a-c)
Fifteen graves yielded textiles, predominantly in a
very poor state of preservation. In fact, most textiles
87
disintegrated, when getting in contact with the air.
Except for some fragments from the richly furnished
infant burial IUA.1707, the remaining examples are
brownish, discolored and too carbonised for reconstruction.35
Given the state of the coarse texture found in the
graves, we can assume that most probably the majority
of funerary textiles served as shrouds. In some cases
infants were wrapped inside a shroud, while adults were
usually laid on a shroud and covered with two separate
pieces of cloth. The texture of the cover is occasionally
more delicate than the flooring cloth. In burialiUF.2802
the fragments were attached to the skull and the jaws of
the male, and in burial IUL.1500 they still covered the
femur of the infant. In one case at least the cover may
have been decorated with beads (female burial
IUA.l705).
The only possible evidence for leather comes from
the craftsman's grave HTR 2701. A small bag made of
a reddish substance, containing a series of unfmished
beads and wasters, disintegrated while opening the
grave. Chemical analyses will have to prove the exact
nature of the skin.
10. Conclusion
The remarkable preservation of the small fmds from
the burials helps significantly to elucidate the intricate
funerary customs of Shahr-i Sokhta throughout the
existence of this important site.
The association of cylinder and compartmented
seals with female burials compares well with the
results of earlier excavations. This confirms that the
females had an important role in the economical
control of the city, and consequently had a rather high
social position.
With regard to the beads from periods I-11, a
significant difference is noticeable in comparison to
periods II-III. Locally available semi-precious and
ornamental stones such as comelian and limestone
prevail in contrast to periods II-III, when imported
turquoise became predominant. Imitations of turquoise
with light green kaolin and glass paste underline the
popularity of this semi-precious stone in periods I-II.
Later, it was much more easily available, which is
demonstrated by the expansion of trade relations with
the north and growing prosperity at Shahr-i Sokhta
during period III.
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
88
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SKELETAL REMAINS (1997-99):
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATION (Fig. 42: a-b)
by F. Forouzarifar
From a total of 149 human skeletons found in 131
graves, thirty-seven, 25%, are males, thirty-three, 22%,
are children, and twenty-nine, 19.5%, individuals are
female. The remaining skeletons, fifty individuals, or
33%, could not be examined because of strong caries.
Here only burials found during 1~7-99 are examined
(Table 11 ). Skeletal remains are divided into three main
groups: 1. Complete skeletons, 2. Incomplete skeletons,
and 3. Not examinable skeletons. The last group consists
of decayed and carious bones (IUL.1508, NAB.2400,
HYN. 2600), or broken and very fragmentary bones,
that at the present time cannot be studied in order to
obtain useful data (HYN.2602, HTR.2702). Sometimes
the data obtained is limited to the age, sex or stature of
the individuals (IUB.l200, IUG.1415, IUL.1514,
IUA.l704, HYE. 2503).
Considering the above-mentioned factors, a total of
twenty-eight skeletal remains were distinguished and
grouped as not examinable samples, IRS.l1 00,
IRS.llOl, IRS. 1102, IUG.1401, IUG.1402, IUL.1502,
IUL.1508, IUL.1514, IUA.1701, IUA.1707, HMY.1800,
HRJ.1901, HRJ.1902, GTS.2000, IPB.2301, IPB.2301a,
IPB.2301b, NAB.2400, NAB.2401, HYE.2500,
HYE.2501, HYE.2504, HYN.2600, HYN.2601,
HYN.2602, HTR.2701, HTR.2702, HTR.2703a. In
addition, on the basis of available data, we could not
distinguish the sex of ten individuals.
Considering the two factors of sex and age, skeletal
remains are divided ino five groups, i.e. male, female,
child, newborn and foetus. From a total of sixty-six
adults, thirty-two female and thirty-four male, fifty-nine
cases were examined. Skeletal remains of these
individuals yielded, due to good grave condition and
adequate skeletal preservation, good possibilities for
examination. Table 11 shows the details of the graves
and their individuals, including the number, state of
preservation of the skeletons, and the age and sex of
these individuals.
For classification and interpretation of skulls
fourteen indexes (Alexiev and Debetz 1964), and for
bodies twenty indexes, were taken into consideration. 36
Remains of 1 to 12-year-old human skeletons
(children, infants, newborn and foetuses) are classified
as a unique group of designated children. As can be seen
in Table 12, almost half of twenty-one children are
buried together with an adult, most likely their father or
mother. Among these samples, eight of them are
newborn or foetuses, in three cases they are related to
abortion, and in five other cases the newborn died before
completing his first year oflife. All foetuses and infants,
except for one, IUL.150 1, are buried together with an
adult, most likely their father of mother. This last foetus
was buried together with a female, from which only the
lower part of body was found, together with a fragment
of radius bone (Table 12).
Traces of burning are visible on the remains of some
skeletons. In the multiple burial, GTS.2000, skeletal
remains of a young female, two children and two young
TABLE. 11. Skeletal remains.
Grave No.
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skeleton
Skull
Tooth
1200
-
1201
not complete
I
-
Age
Body
-
1300
examined
not
examinable
not complete not complete not
examinable
examined
examined
complete
1301
examined
examined
1400
examined
1400a
not complete
1400b
not complete
1400c
1403a
Sex
Age
Calculated
Approx.
Age
40-45
-
-
M
?
55-60
53.6
F
30-35
36.9
M
examined
complete
examined
examined
complete
16-18
-
F
examined
examined
not complete
45-50
43.7
F
-
-
not complete
50-56
-
F
-
-
-
6-8
-
Child
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
complete
13-14
-
F
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
Grave No.
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Skeleton
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skull
Tooth
I
Body
-
Sex
-
F
Infant
-
Child
45-55
59.1
?
-
M
Child
30-40
-
F
07-Aug
-
Child
50-55
53.7
M
1.5
Inf.
Inf.
45-50
-
F
30-40
-
M
25-30
-
M
25-30
-
M
45-55
-
M
40-45
-
M
30-35
-
F
10-12
-
Child
30-40
-
F
complete
complete
not
examinable
complete
35-40
-2
2-3
42.2
F
Inf.
Inf.
-
55-QO
25-30
Fetus
59.9
34.8
30-35
-1
-
F
Newborn
Newborn
-
Newborn
1.5
-
Inf.
40-50
-
F
-1
-
Newborn
-
1404b
-
1405
1406
examined
1407
-
1408
-
1408a
-
1409
-
1410
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
examined
complete
examined
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete not complete not
examinable
not
examinable
examined
not complete not complete
1411
-
-
-
1412
-
-
-
1413
-
-
-
1414
-
-1
-
1414a
-
-
-
1415
-
-
-
1415a
-
-
-
1416
examined
examined
examined
1500
1500a
1500b
examined
examined
examined
-
-
-
-
-
-
examined
examined
examined
examined
-
Age
Approx.
Age
Age
Calculated
45-50
1404a
-
89
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
ISOla
1503
1504
1505
1506
examined
examined
examined
examined
examined
-
-
-
1507
-
-
-
1509
-
-
-
1510
-
-
-
complete
complete
complete
Not
examinable
Not
examinable
Not
examinable
not complete
1511
-
-
-
not complete
-
-
-
M
M
90
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Grave No.
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Skeleton
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skull
Tooth
I
Body
Age
Age
Approx.
Calculated
Age
Sex
1512a
examined
examined
examined
complete
25-30
-
F
1512b
examined
examined
examined
complete
45-50
53.7
M
1513
-
-
-
30-35
34.8
M
1514a
-
-
-
10-12
-
Child
1515
-
not complete
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
12-14
-
M
1516
-
-
not complete
not complete
25-30
-
M
1517
not complete
examined
examined
not complete
45-50
57.8
M
1518
-
-
-
30-40
-
F
1519
-
-
-
35-40
-
M
1520
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
1521
-
-
-
1600
-
-
-
45-40
33.6
F
40-45
-
?
-5
-
Child
35-40
-
M
30-40
43.7
F
3-4
-
Inf.
F
1601
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
1602
examined
examined
examined
complete
1603
not complete
examined
not complete
not complete
1604
examined
examined
examined
complete
20-25
-
1605
-
-
-
complete
20-25
-
F
1606
examined
-
-
Fetus
-
Fetus
1607
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
not complete
35-40
-
M
1609
examined
examined
-
not complete
35-40
-
M
1610
examined
examined
examined
complete
25-30
-
F
12-14
-
?
-
-
F
35-40
-
F
35-40
-
M
40-45
43.7
F
45-50
51.5
M
Newborn
1700
-
-
-
1702
-
-
-
1703
-
-
-
1704
-
-
-
1705
-
examined
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
1706
not complete
examined
examined
not complete
1708
-
-
-
-
-
1709
-
-
35-40
-
M
1710
-
not
examinable
complete
-
-
not complete
10-11
-
Child
1900
not complete
-
-
not
examinable
35-40
-
F
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
Grave No.
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Skeleton
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skull
Tooth
I
Body
91
Age
Age
Approx.
Calculated
Age
Sex
examined
examined
complete
18-20
-
F
-
-
-
not complete
5-7
-
Child
2000d
not complete
not complete
not complete
not complete
10-11
-
Child
2100
-
-
-
30--40
-
F
2300
not complete
examined
examined
not
examinable
not complete
53-60
61.6
F
2300a
-
-
-
8-10
-
Child
2302
-
-
-
2502
-
-
-
2503
-
-
-
2505
-
2506
-
2507
2000b
examined
2000c
-
-
Newborn
40-45
-
?
50-55
-
?
-
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
2-3
examined
not complete
25-30
-
Inf.
examined
-
examined
-
2-3
-
Inf.
2508
-
examined
-
not
examinable
not complete
40--45
-
M
2508a
-
examined
-
20-22
-
F
2700
-
-
-
40-50
-
?
2703
-
-
-
50-60
-
?
2703b
-
-
-
8-10
-
Child
2800
not complete
not complete
examined
50-55
50
M
2801
-
-
-
30-35
-
F
2802
-
-
-
35-40
-
M
2803
-
-
-
"12-13
-
F
2804
-
-
-
-
-
Newborn
2806
examined
examined
examined
25-30
-
F
-
M
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
M
2807
-
-
examined
complete
35-40
2808
examined
examined
examined
not complete
45-50
2809
-
examined
examined
not complete
22-25
-
F
2810
-
examined
examined
not complete
35-40
-
M
2811
examined
examined
-
not complete
45-50
-
M
2812
examined
-
-
not complete
7-8
-
Child
M
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
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92
and sexually undetermined individuals were found.
Most parts of the skeletons were burnt, their colour
turning to brown. In another multiple burial, IUL.l500,
belonging to a 35-40-year-old female and two infants,
1500a, 1500b, traces ofbuming are obvious. In the case
of the skeleton of a 30-35-year-old corpulent male,
IUC.l30 1, traces ofburning can be seen on fragments of
the vertebral column, maxilla and frontal bone. Another
case of is seen on the costal cartilage of a 60-year-old
female, IPB.2300, the oldest individual ever found at
Shahr-i Sokhta.
Enlargement at the level of the central part of both
parietal regions of a 4 year old girl's skull shows some
signs of a hydrocephalic illness. This is the second case
ofhydrocephalus at Shahr-i Sokhta.37
Almost all distinguished illness cases are due to hard
physical activities or hard environmental conditions. A
total of twenty cases oflumbar vertebral osteo-arthritis is
present (IUG.l400b, IUG.l410, IUG.l412, IUL.l503,
IUL.151 0, IUL.1512b, IUL. 1517, IUK.l609, IUK.l61 0,
IUA.1703, IUA.1705, IUA.1706, IUA.1709, HYE.2502,
HYE.2503, HYE.2508, IUF.2801, IUF.2807, IUF.2808,
IUF.2810 and IUF.2811). Individuals above 30 years
were plagued by this illness.
Another common illness at Shahr-i Sokhta was the
compression of the vertebrae at a younger age,
IUG.l412, HYE.2502, IUF.2801, or deformation of
vertebrae (compression, degeneration: IUG.1414,
IUL.l519, IUL.l5121, IUA.1703, and IUF.2800). At a
younger age this illness is due to the hard physical labour
conditions at Shahr-i Sokhta. In male inhabitants it starts
to appear around their thirtieth year and in females at 30
to 35 years of age. This indicates the equal participation
of both sexes in everyday hard labour.
Sex, stature and age of sixty-six adult individuals
above twelve years, thirty-four male, thirty-two female,
TABLE. 12. Approx. Age: New-born, Infants and Children.
Grave No.
Age
Note
1400b
7
Buried together with 3 adult individuals
1403b
11
Buried together with a 13/15 year old female
1404b
3
Buried together with a 45-50 year old male
1406
-
Buried individually
1408
7.5
Buried together with a 50 year old male
1409
1.5
Buried individually
1415a
11
Buried together with a 30-35 year old female
1500a
1.5
Buried together with a 37.5 year old female and another child
1500b
2.5
Buried together with a 37.5 year old female and another child
1501a
Fetus
Buried together with and adult female
1506
Infants
Buried individually
1507
Newborn
Buried individually
1507
3.5
Buried individually
1509
1.5
Buried individually
1511
Infant
Buried individually
1514a
11
Buried together with an adult individual with undetermined sex
1600
5
Buried individually
1603
4
Buried individually, probably Hydrocephalus
1606
Fetus
Buried individually
1708
Newborn
Buried individually
2000c
6
Buried together with three adults and one child
2000d
10.5
Buried together with three adults and one child
2300a
9
Buried together with a 60 year old female
2302
Infant
Buried individually
2505
2.5
Buried individually
2507
3
Buried individually
2703b
9
Buried together with two adults
2812
9
Buried individually
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
93
100%
87%
90%
1
_/
70%
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!ill%
AO%
10%
/
I
7U
1%
1%
5
6
2%
2%
0
3
0%
I
L
I
I
------'
2
a. Percentage of number of skeletons in single Grave
---------27%
--
/27%
25%~--/--r---%
20%~--/~-15%+-----------------~------------------------
/"
10%+-----/___,.....____-----.,..-_
5%+----------~~---------------------------------------------------------
/
0%+------------r----------~------------~----------~----------~----------~
~
~
C
?
F
M
b. Percentage of the inhumed (Fe= foetus, Inf. =infant, C =child,?= unidentified individual, F =female, M =male)
Fig. 42. Percentage of burials
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94
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
and eight newborn/infants and twenty-one children
were examined. The stature of individuals are
calculated on the basis of nine standard indexes.
According to these calculations, the average stature of
males is 162.7 em. The range of male stature starts from
a very short height,150-155 em., to extremely tall,
190+ em., but the majority are between 158-175 em.
Thus males could be classified as fairly short
individuals between 160 to 165 em. The range of stature
of females starts with extremely sllort, 140--145 em., to
rather tall individuals, 165-170 em. The tallest females
are between 150 to 165 em. The difference between
average male and female stature is 8.1 em.
The average age of individuals is calculated on the
basis of the mean table, according to which, the death
age for males is 26--53 and females 26--39 years. The
oldest male, IUL.1503 and the oldest female, IUC.l300
and IPB.2300, were between 55-60 years old, while the
middle average ofthe age of males was 39.2 and those
offemales was 33.2 years.
Notes
For a detailed geological set up of the region see Jux and
Kempf1983.
Although British visitors to the region visited the site in the
eighteenth century, its real archaeological discoverer was Sir
Aurel Stein, the great Anglo-Hungarian explorer (Stein
1928).
For almost ten years, an Italian expedition excavated this site.
M. Tosi, was head of the expedition for several years and had
an important role in presenting and introducing the
importance of this site to the world of Iranian archaeology.
Efforts and contributions of scholars such as M. Piperno, S.
Salvatori, G. Bulgarelli, R. Biscione, L. Costantini, and other
collabomtors of the expedition, were no less important.
Thanks to their work, there now exists suitable and reliable
information regarding different aspects of the society of
Shahr-i Sokhta of the fourth and third millennium B.C. The
bibliogmphy of Shahr-i Sokhta, regarding different aspects
of archaeological research, has been compiled in different
languages, mainly in English and Italian, and is very
extensive. A list of publications on this site is available in
Lazzari 1999. The correct translitemtion of the name of this
site is: Sahr-e Suxteh, written also as Shahr-e Sukhteh. To
continue with the tradition introduced by the Italian
Expedition to the Middle Eastern archaeological litemture,
we follow this form of transliteration.
4
The new series of excavations at Shahr-i Sokhta is currently
carried out under the auspices of the Iranian Cultural
Heritage Organisation (ICHO). The author would like to
thank H.E. S.M. Beheshti, Vice-minister of the Ministry of
Culture and Islamic Guidance of I.R. of Iran and Geneml
Director of the ICHO, for his support of this expedition. My
warmest thanks also go to Mr J. Golshan, deputy director of
the same organisation who, in addition to supporting the
expedition on different occasions, made available all the
facilities for this research. Mr N.N. Cheghini and Dr M.
Azamoush, former and present directors of the
Archaeological Service of ICHO, in addition to their
support of this expedition, organised all the necessary
facilities during the excavations. I would like to remember
the kindness and interminable efforts of Mr Alireza
Khosmvy, head of the local ICHO office in Zabol for easing
the difficult working and living conditions of the members
of the expedition. I would also like to thank KR.S. Sajjadi
for his translation of this text into English. Finally I feel duty
bound to mention the encouragement, indefatigable support
and suggestions of my wife, Angela Di Giovanni Romano,
in completing this work Members of the expedition during
1997-2000 were S.M.S. Sajjadi, Director, B.Omrani,
R.M.Zaruri, R.Shirazi, F.Saber Moqaddam, M.Heydari,
Archaeologists, A.Zahedi, O.Salari, H.Moradi, D.Momeni,
M.Bagheri, T.Shahraki, M. Abedi, Excavation assistants
and designers, and F. Foruzanfar, anthropologist.
This is the first preliminary report of the first four years of
excavations at the gmveyard of Shahr-i Sokhta. The
detailed, technical and not analytical results, in Persian, of
these first four years is presently in press (Gozareshha-ye
Shahr-e Sukhteh l, Tehmn 1382/2003).
The measurements and the number of estimated tombs of
the gmveyard are still contradictory. In a report published
two years after the beginning of the excavations the area of
gmveyard was estimated at around 25 ha (Piperno & Tosi
1975: 123). Later, on another occasion, the area of the
gmveyard was estimated at being 20 ha., with 22,000 graves
(Piperno 1977: 138) and again 30 ha., with 20,000 graves
(Piperno 1986: 257). Finally, in the latest publication, the
area extends to between 20--25 ha. and the number ofgmves
decreases to 18,000 units (Bonom et al. 2000: 495).
However, according to the calculations made on the basis of
new data obtained during the new series of excavations at
Shahr-i Sokhta, and on the basis of gmve distribution and
concentration in different parts of the gmveyard, it is now
calculated between 31,000--37,500 gmves. Due to the large,
extended area of the graveyard and the limited amount of
excavated area, as Piperno has stated rightly, only a "modest
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
10
II
12
13
14
15
16
17
sounding" (Piperno 1986: 257) for a total of c. 4,850 sq.m.
by both expeditions, all these statistics must be considered
only as a temporary attempt to discover the full extent of
graves at the site.
During the following fifth and sixth campaigns of2001-2,
a total of I ,000 sq.m. was excavated, yielding I 04 more
graves. The results of these two campaigns are the subject
of a second preliminary report on the graveyard.
To keep the continuity, and to avoid any confusion, the
typology of graves of the former expedition is kept, and the
new type of grave is numbered as the ninth type of grave
structure.
The numbers of these type of graves are reiterated between
six and eight, the real reason for this difference is due to the
different registration system used for the collection of
anthropological data. IUG.l400 with four human remains,
is divided into 1400, 1400a and 1400bc, IUG.I404a-b with
two skeletons, and IUG.I405, IUK.l615, IUA.I705 and
IUF.2802, each one with one individual are unearthed
catacomb graves.
However, on this matter see Bonora eta/. 2000. Since the
present paper is only a preliminary report on the new
series of excavations, different aspects of the chronological distribution of graves are not included.
Since these fragments are badly burned and damaged, and
have not been analysed yet, this statement must be viewed
with caution.
It is probable that we have lost a number of graves with
textiles as a result of great corrosion and decay.
In an earlier publication (Piperno 1977: 135), seventeen
goats are reported, which does not make a big difference.
The exact number of skulls, as a result of the great amount
of corrosion of the bones, is not very clear. Only five of
them are in a good state of preservation.
See Piperno 1979: 138. Regarding probable human scarifices
at Shahr-i Sokhta, see also grave GTT. I 003
(Piperno/Salvatori 1983: 175). Although Piperno has reason to
believe, we must be very cautious regarding the presence of a
human sacrificial rite at Shahr-i Sokhta (Piperno 1979: 139).
It is doubtful whether "grave" can be used for these piles of
bones.
Due to a mistake which occurred at the beginning of
excavations in 1997, three graves, 1602, 1603 and 1604,
originally located in square IUL are marked as !UK. We
kept this system of numbering to avoid any further
confusion. However, it must be noted that this does not
interfere with the statistical configuration since squares IUL
and !UK are both on the central part of graveyard, and next
to one another.
IX
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
3░
95
All the percentages above 0.50% are upgraded to I and vice
versa.
Regarding the exact number of excavated catacombs, see
above note 9.
The chronological attribution of these graves is based upon
relative chronological tables introduced by the Italian
expedition on a different occasion.
Since the study of the pottery of the graveyard is still in
progress, the proposed dates are to be considered only as a
temporary tentative date for the excavated graves.
The total number of excavated graves, from both
expeditions, is nearly 460, with respect to the 20,000-30,000
estimated graves.
During the sixth campaign of the excavations at the
graveyard, two small metal vessels, IUR.3208 and
IPV.3400, were found.
This information, has been kindly provided by Dr L.
Costantini, Director of Laboratorio Bioarcheologia della
Musco Nazionale d'Arte Orientale, and Is!AO of Rome,
during his short visit to the site in the autumn of 2000. The
study of bio-botanic and organic materials with the
collaboration of the same laboratory is in progress.
For a detailed description ofgrave goods, see below: Smallfinds.
A study of the pottery vessels is still in progress.
A considerable number of the signs are found at Shahdad
(Hakemi 1997). In the collection of pottery vessels at
Shahdad cemetery one group of signs has been decoded
(ibid., 68), while some other marks are similar to the marks
found at Shahr-i Sokhta (ibid., 65: fig. 43). During the last
campaign of excavations at Shahdad, new marks have been
found (Kaboli 1368). Regarding one specific group of new
marks, Kaboli writes: " ... in one case, four vessels were
deposed one inside another. The smallest bowl was marked
by sign I, on the base of the second, and greater vessel we
observed mark II, the third vessel was marked by Ill and
the fourth vessel, the biggest one was marked by ". After
examinations of vo!umes of each vessel, we found that the
capacity of the bowl marked by II was twice that of bowl
marked I , and that of the third vessel marked Ill, was three
times the first one and finally bowl marked " four times the
first bowl" (Kaboli 1368: 66-1 06).
Though the preliminary report of the Italian excavations at
the graveyard ofShahr-i Sokhta has not been published yet,
extant data (212 burials with 33 seals) result in a much
higher figure.
An unpublished bifacial chlorite stamp seal from surface
surveys in 1997 is similarly decorated
A similar manufacturing technique is attested for a
"Bactrian" compartmented seal, now kept in the Musee
96
3'
32
33
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34
35
36
37
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Guimet, cf Baghestani 1997: 197, fig. I03. For an account
on different manufacturing techniques cf. ibid., 14--17.
Since no petrologic analysis have been undertaken, labels such
as limestone or calcite should be used with caution.
For an account on the composition of the slags from Shahri Sokhta, cf Helming eta/. 1991: 522-25.
Susa: Tallon 1987: nos. 1230, 1231; Shahdad cemetery:
Hakemi 1997: 278.654, Fig. Gv.2; Bactria: Pottier 1984: 39
Margiana: Salavatori 199514 (grave 37/25).
For other ladles of this type, cf Costantini 1997: 45Б,
Inv.no. 6353.
For a full account of Shahr-i Sokhta's textiles from earlier
excavations, cf Good 2000.
For the preliminary results of the studies on the skulls and
bodies, see Sa.ijadi & Foruzanfar 200 I.
The first reported case of hydrocephalus was found during
the 1977 campaign of the Italian expedition to Shahr-i
Sokhta. In that year a collective grave with thirteen
individuals, and three dog skeletons was unearthed (Piperno
& Salavatori 1983: 10). This grave is dated to phase 8 of
period I (Tosi eta!. 1984: 474). Among the skeletons of this
grave, was a skull of a c. 13-year-old female (Macchiarelli
/Passarello 1988: 35). According to a personal
communications with Dr Macchiarelli, this skull had a
larger volume than usual, mainly due to an enlargement of
the central part of both parietal regions. Considering all
metric traits, indexes and values, on the whole, the skull in
discussion is ultrabrachycranic, ipsycranic, tapeinocranic,
ipsyconchic and leptorrhyn. This individual was carefully
operated on and survived trephination for at least 6 to 9
months. During the fifth campaign of excavations a third
case of this illness was found at SS. This is important data,
as we are now aware of at least three cases of this illness
among less than 500 human skeletons found in this large
graveyard.
Bibliography
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
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Jung, M. 2001. "L'attivita dell Istituto per I' Africa e !'Oriente
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Rome, XVII-XIX.
Jux, U. and Kempf, E.K. 1983. "Regional Geology of Sistan
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Kaboli, M.A. 1368 (1989). "Shahdad", in M.Y. Kiani (ed.),
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Kohl, Ph.L. 200 I. "Reflections on the production of chlorite at
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Lechevallier, M., Meadow, R.H. and Quivron, R.H. 1982.
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Antropologia LXVI, Roma.
Mariani, L. 1989. "The Mounumental Area of Shahr-i Sokhta:
notes from Surface Reconnaissance", South Asian
Archaeology 1985.
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Meriggi, L. 1971-74. La scrittura proto elamite I-III, Roma.
Piperno, M. 1976. "Grave 77 at Shahr-i Sokhta: Further
Evidence of Technological Specialization in the 3rd
Millennium BC", EW26, 9-12.
- 1977. "La necropoli", in Tucci 1977.
- 1979. "Socio-economic implications from the Graveyard
of Shahr-i Sokhta", South Asian Archaeology 1979,
123-39.
- 1986. "Aspects of Ethnical Multiplicity across the Shahr-i
Sokhta Graveyard", Oriens Antiquus 25, Roma.
- and Salvatori, S. 1983. "Recent Results and New
Perspectives from the research at the Graveyard ofShahr-i
Sukhta, Sistan, Iran", Annali deli'Istituto Universitario
Orientale 43, 2, Naples.
- and Tosi, M. 1974. "The Graveyard of Sahr-e Suxteh (A
Presentation of the 1972 and 1973 Campaigns)", in F.
Bagherzadeh (ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd Annual
Symposium on Archaeological Research in Iran, Tehran.
-and Tosi, M. 1975. "The graveyard ofShahr-i Sokhta, Iran",
Archaeology 28, New York, pp. 186-197.
Pottier, M.H. 1984. Materiel funeraire de Ia Bactriane
meridionale de I 'Age du Bronze, Editions Recherches sur
les Civilisations, memoire 36, Paris.
Potts, D.T. 1981. "The potter's mark of Tepe Yahya",
Pateorient, 107-22.
Sajjadi, S.M.S. and Foruzanfar, F. 2001. "Preliminary
Observations on Human Skeletal Remains from Shahr-i
Sokhta ( Sistan Southeast Iran)", in Caucasus' Essays on
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(The Journal of the Centre for Archaeological Studies of
the Georgian Academy of Sciences) Supplement VI,
67-87.
Salvatori, S. 1995. "Gonur Depe. (Margiana, Turkmenistan):
The middle Bronze Age Gravetard. Preliminary Report on
the 1994 Excavation campaigns", Rivista di Archeologia,
Anno XIX, pp. 7-37.
-and Vidale, M. 1997. Shahr-i Sokhta 1975-1979: Central
Quarters Excawitions. Preliminary Report. ISIAO,
Rome.
~
Ill
~
IV
"
и==-
=--
.
.. и-
Fig. 34. Alabaster vessels.
+2 vessels
2 vessels
-
-ииии--ииии
-.. иии-------'
?
I vessel
.. и и - - - - - - - -
d. Number of vessels in the graves
--и---~и
- - - - ... и- ....?.. ии-иии
и--и -
~ t~---= ~e::-:.
:f
8
10 -и
E~=[и~~~----и-~--~------ --=------и- ~- - - и -
22.~~-
ut
::f
~!I~
b. Distribution of Alabaster vessels according to the period of occupation
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
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r/J
1:!:1
t:J
,...,
e'"""
r/J
>
z
r/J
,...,
?:'
1:!:1
"1::1
'Tj
o
>
t-
z
?:'
e
0
'-
-....J
N
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
73
b.2501.2
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2
I
0
e.1700.1
C;2513.4
?
I
d.1416.4
I
I
L.....L-L-1
0
1
2
I
I
I
0
1
2
I
3
3
g.1400.26
...............
0
t
2
3
j.1416a.1
i.2810.11
0
1<.1615.24
2
t
I
sI
[[]
n.1400.53
1.2903.2
0
I
?
S
I
Fig. 35. Alabaster vessels.
1
2
3
I
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
74
2b. Concave cylinders. These are cylindrical mortars
with a concave body, flat base and everted rim;
IUG.l400/23, 53, IUG.l615/24.
2c. High-base cylinders. These are cylindrical mortars
with a flat rim, straight body and high base,
IUG.l400/6.
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2d. Cylindrical body. These are another type of simple
mortars with everted rim, IUG.l4'00/27.
SMALL FINDS
by S. Baghestani
1. Seals
Five of the 112 burials with objects yielded one seal
each, i.e. two cylinder seals and three compartmented
seals made of alabaster, limestone and copper/bronze
(Table 5). The low percentage of burials with seals (c.
4.5%) differs significantly from that of previous
campaigns by the Italian mission. 28 All graves are
simple (IUK.1605, IUK.l610) or bi-partite pits
(HRJ.l900, IUL.l505, IUA.l713), belonging to
females, except for IUA.l713 (Fig. 36: a). The fact that
seals are predominantly assigned to women should be
related to their function as controllers of domestic food
supplies, as already proposed by the author (Baghestani
1997: 149-52).
The presence of seals near the femur of the skeletons
of Graves IUK 1605 and IUK 1610 indicates that they
were probably attached to their owners' belt and not to
their arms or chests.
Both cylinder seals are made of limestone,
resembling some of the impressions found earlier on the
site (Amiet 1983: 199-210; Amiet & Tosi 1978). The
first seal from grave IUK.l61 0 is decorated with striated
opposite triangles similar to the more sophisticated hut
motif of Piedmont style seals and should thus be dated
later than Early Dynastic I. The grave inventory, a richly
painted pot and a pear-shaped beaker typical of period II,
both corroborate this date (Fig. 36: a. 1610.5). The
second cylinder seal (1900/3) (Fig. 36: a. 1900.3) is
rather simply decorated with a zigzag line enclosed by
three parallel rows, probably an abbreviation of the
herringbone pattern. It is similar to a cylinder seal from
Tell Braq and an archaic seal impression from Ur, dated
to the middle of the third millennium B.C. (Amiet 1983:
200 fig. la; Collon 1987: 23 fig. 50). Furthermore, grave
HRJ.l900 contained seven plain and painted Buff Ware
vessels from Period II, an alabaster cosmetic flagon and
a copper wand.
Grave IUL.l505 yielded a square compartmented
seal of white stone, probably alabaster, with a high arcshaped handle (Fig. 36: a. 1505.16). It is decorated with
a voided cross, frequently attested for square and
circular chlorite seals from Shahr-i Sokhta and is
comparable with a seal impression from the Shahdad
cemetery (Hakemi 1997: 672, Mb.l, no. 37 stamped
marks).
Two metallic compartmented seals from periods II
and III, most likely made of copper alloys, are hitherto
unparalleled. The openwork square seal IUA.l713/5
(Fig. 36: a. 1713.5) is heavily corroded and bears a tiny,
broken arc-shaped handle at the rear. It is decorated with
eight alternating openwork circles and triangles,
TABLE 5. Glyptics.
Inv.no.
Material
Type
Dimension
(em.)
Shape,
decoration
1610/5
limestone,
white
limestone,
light grey
cylinder seal
1: 3.5, d.: 1.2
cylinder seal
1:2,
IUK.1610 (f) p. I-II
Piedmont
style
zigzag pattern HRJ.1900 (f) p. I-II
1900/3
1505/16
alabaster
1605/17
Cu-br
1713/5
Cu-br
Provenance, Date
gender
d.: 1.1
compartmente
d seal
compartmente
d seal
1.7 X 1.7, t.:
0.3
1: 2.3, w.: 2.9,
t.: 0.4
compartmente 2.7 X 2.5, t.:
0.2
d seal
IUL.1505 (f) per. I
square, cross
voided
standing bird IUK.1605 (f) per. III
(bustard)
square,
rosette
IUA.1713 (m) per. II
L.: length; D.: diameter; W: width; Th.: thickness
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
symmetrically arranged around a central circle to form a
rosette. Incised lines surround the circles and triangles.
This seal proves that openwork appears on metallic
compartmented seals at Shahr-i Sokhta as early as
period II. On the other hand, it is a perfect example for
common motifs of metallic and lithic compartmented
seals. 29 Again the nearest parallel is a seal impression
from the Shahdad cemetery (Hakemi 1997; Baghestani
1997: 277, figs. 360-61). IUK.1605/15 represents a fat
standing bird with stylised plumage, probably a bustard
(Fig. 36: a.1615.15). This seal is extraordinary both for
its design and technique. Three thin metal strips,
forming the outline, interior decoration and the feet,
were soldered on a plaque, which was subsequently cut
into shape to fit.JO
2. Beads
Thirty-nine burials (or 35% of all) yielded 426 beads,
either separately or as part of bracelets and necklaces,
almost equally attributed to women ( 16 burials) and men
(15 burials) and more rarely to infants (3 burials) (Fig.
37: a-j). The gender of five deceased with beads could
not be identified. The majority of the burials are dated to
periods I-II along with some rare examples from
subsequent periods.
Shahr-i Sokhta beads are made of a great variety of
materials, especially semi-precious stones, i.e. lapis
lazuli (Fig. 38: a), comelian, chalcedony, turquoise and
probably jasper. Further materials are alabaster,
limestone or calcite, bone, shell and terracotta (Table 6).3 1
Gold, also used for decorating lapis beads, is as rare as
light green kaolin, glass paste and frit, which obviously
were meant to replace more valuable turquoise beads.
Except for lapis or turquoise, most semi-precious stones
are available from nearby mountainous areas. According
to petrologic examinations of waste samples from the
75
site, lapis was imported from ancient quarries in the
Pamir Mountains, Sar-i Sang in Badakhshan
(Afghanistan) and the Chagai Hills in Pakistan (Delmas
& Casanova 1990: 502). Ancient turquoise mines have
been reported in the vicinity ofNeishabur on the eastern
slopes of the Elburz Mountains and in the Kyzylkum area
(Tosi 1974, 148 ff.).
Beads of comelian, a reddish coloured variety of
chalcedony, are most often recorded (155 items),
followed by beads of limestone or calcite (124 items),
lapis (54 items, 6 with a gold strip), chalcedony (41
items), turquoise (8 items) and jasper (1 item) (Fig. 39:
b). Earlier excavations of the cemetery yielded different
distribution figures, especially for periods II-III, when
turquoise beads prevailed (Tosi 1974: 157).
Except for a bracelet with twelve shell beads, other
materials such as jasper, kaolin, glass paste and
terracotta were more rarely utilised (Fig. 39: b). Only
two genuine gold beads of ovoid shape were found with
a female burial in IUA.1703. The third example from the
infant burial IUL.1515 was plated with gold. It was
found together with a cylindrical lapis bead, decorated
with a thin strip of gold. Similar lapis beads with one
gold strip were found in IUF.2809/1, whereas the
examples from IUK.1607 are framed by two gold strips.
Most beads were produced locally as demonstrated
by large amounts of wasters from the Craftsmen Area in
squares EWK /EWP. This is also proven by grave
HTR.2701, which contained a "hoard" with lithic drillheads, blades and unfinished beads, certainly belonging
to a craftsman (Fig. 38: ~).
The beads from the cemetery can roughly be divided
into circular and flat types according to the section.
Eleven types have been distinguished so far. Annular
beads of different sizes are often found singly, while
cylindrical and semi-conical beads appear most
frequently in pairs ;:tS elements of necklaces. When
TABLE 6. Beads.
Inv.no.
Material
Item
1300/11
bead
stone, grey
130112
2 beads
stone, red and blue
1404 a/ 45
bead
stone, black
1408/10
necklace, 21 beads
1410/9
necklace, 54 beads
10 comelian, 10 limestone., 1
chalcedony
22 limestone, 15 comelian, 8
lapis, 8 chalced., 1 turquoise
D. (em.) Th. (em.) L. (em.)
3.4
3.7
1.1
1
Provenance,
gender
Period
IUC.1300 (f)
I
IUC.1301 (m)
?
IUG.l404a(m)
IV
IUG.1408 (m)
IV
IUG.1410 (i)
I
76
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Inv.no.
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1414/1
Item
bead
Material
Stone
D. (em.) Th. (em.) L. (em.)
3.5
Provenance,
gender
Period
IUG.l414 (m)
I
IUG.l414 (m)
I
IUG.l416 (f)
I
1414/10
necklace, 20 beads
10 cornelian, 10 limestone
1416/5
bead
Brown stone
151111
3 beads
1 carnelian, 2 limestone
IUL.1511 (i)
?
151311
2 beads
Turquoise, chalcedony
IUL.l513 (m)
?
1515/7
5 beads
IUL.1515 (m)
I
1516/9
3 beads
1 gold plaited, 3 lapis (1 w.
!fold strip), 1 chalcedony
turquoise, cornelian, limestone
IUL.l516 (m)
II
151717
necklace, 24 beads
IUL.l517 (m)
II
1519/9
bead
12 carnelian, 12limestone or
calcite
beige alabaster
1520/8
bead
1601/8
1604/4
3.8
1.1
0.3-0.5
0.5-0.7
3.4
1
IUL.1519 (m)
I
beige alabaster
3.3
1.1
IUL.1520 (f)
I
bead
beige alabaster
3.3
1.2
IUK.l601 (m)
II
bead
red stone
3.4
1
IUK.l604 (f)
I
1605/20
bead
cornelian
3.1
1.5
IUK.l605 (f)
III
1607/4
5 beads
IUK.l607 (m)
II
1610/4-5
2 beads
2 carnelian, 3 lapis (2 w. gold
strips)
pinkish carnelian, black stone
IUK.l610 (f)
II?
1613/3-4
2 beads
IUK.l613 (f)
II
IUK.l615 (m)
II
IUA.l702 (f)
II?
IUA.l703 (f)
II?
1615/ 56--57 2 beads
2.8
1.6,
grey and buff terracotta
3.5; 1.8
1; 0.8
veined chalcedony, dark green
jasper
1 cornelian, 4 bone, 1
chalcedony
52 cornelian, 8 limestone, 8
lapis, 3 chalcedony, 2 gold
0.6; 1.5
1702/3
6 beads
1703/6
necklace, 73 beads
1716/11
bead
stone
1717/8
bead
1718/6
1
-; 3.5
2.9; 4.7
3
1.1
IUA.l716 (f)
I
terracotta
3.5
1
IUA.l717 (f)
II
bead
stone
0.4
1.6
IUA.l718 (m)
II?
1901/1
bead
stone
HRJ.l901 (f)
?
HRJ.l902 (-)
?
GTS 2000_(5, 1 f,
1 m, 2 i, 1 nd) .
IBP.2300 (f)
II
2 turquoise, 1 chalcedony
HYE.2501 (-)
II?
3 beads
limestone, frit, chalcedony
llYN .2600 (-)
II
2701/8
3 beads
HTR2701 (-)
II
2800/7
3 beads
limestone, chalcedony,
unfinished
turquoise, lapis, white stone
IUF.2800 (m)
II
IUF 2801 (f)
I
IUF.2809 (f)
?
1902/1
bead
stone
2000/6--8
3 beads
turquoise, glass paste
2300/4-6
3 beads
chalcedony, glass paste, kaolin
2501/3
3 beads
2600/4
2801/5
necklace, 91 beads
2809/1
necklace, 14 beads
46 cornelian, 44 limestone, 1
lapis
14 lapis (3 w. gold strip)
0.7-0.8
av. 0.3
0.5-0.6
OA-0.7
?
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
Item
Inv.no.
Material
D. (em.) Th. (em.) L. (em.)
77
Provenance,
gender
IUF.2810 (m)
Period
II
2810/13
necklace, 49 beads
2811/3
bead
13 comelian, 14 limestone, 13
lapis, 8 chalcedony, 1
turquoise
veined alabaster
IUF.2811 (m)
II?
2811/5
necklace, 17 beads
3 lapis, 14 chalcedony
IUF.2811 (m)
II?
2812/2
necklace, 12 beads
shell
IUF.2812 (i)
II
3.4
1.1
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D.: diameter; Th.: thickness; L.: length
combined, semi-conical beads form a hi-conical
element, resembling elongated hi-conical beads of a
larger size (type 7), which mostly occur as single beads.
Flat triangular, conical, lozenge-shaped and lentoid
beads (types 8-11) are more rarely found. They either
appear as single beads (2501/3) or as central parts of
necklaces (2810/13).
Fifteen, or 40%, of the burials contained a large
single bead of the annular type (diameter: 2.8-3.7 em.,
thickness: 1-1.6 em.). They are made of stone, alabaster
or terracotta and are found in connection with both male
and female burials of all periods. In some cases
(IUG.1414, IUF.2811) they appear together with
necklaces. Salvatori and Vidale labelled comparable
objects from the Central Quarters as spindle whorls, an
identification to be excluded for extant examples, which
show no traces of abrasion at the central perforations.
(Salvatori & Vidale 1997: 77, fig. 249, 1-6).
In sum, this evidence indicates that these "beads"
were not made for decorative purposes, but for a specific
function, perhaps apotropaic or for a still unknown
funerary rite. They were mostly found in the pelvic area
or near the femur. The example from burial IUG.1404a
was still threaded on to a 10 em. long wooden stick
(1404 a/45), whose function is also unknown.
Fifteen, or 40%, of the burials contained two to six
beads, most frequently found near the head, pelvis,
femur or at the feet of the deceased. In some cases they
were inside vessels, which suggests a dedicatory rather
than ornamental function.
Only ten or one-quarter of the burials contained
necklaces, predominantly belonging to male deceased.
The high percentage of male burials with necklaces (6
items) suggests a dedicatory function, too. Necklaces
consist of 12 beads (IUF.2812) to 91 beads from the
female burial IUF.280 1. There is a clear predilection for
combining red (cornelian) and white (limestone or
calcite), sometimes associated with single beads made
oflapis, turquoise, chalcedony and even gold (1408/10,
2801/5). Lapis beads are frequently combined with
whitish translucent chalcedony (281115).
3. Metal objects
Very few metal objects were recovered; they were
mainly cosmetic wands, pins, weapons and implements.
Most of them are greenish corroded, indicating copper
as the initial ore3 2 (Table 7).
3 .1. Mirrors
Two mirrors in the shape of simple and slightly
concave discs with flattened edges were found in female
burials from periods III-IV (1400/58 and 1605/14).
Mirrors of this type are widely attested at Iranian sites,
e.g. Susa and the Shahdad cemetery, but are also known
from Bactria (Northern Afghanistan) and Margiana
(Turkmenistan). 33 IUC.1400/58 was found inside a
circular wooden box (1400/57), lying in a basket.
3 .2. Wands and pin
Metal wands and a pin were recovered from eight
burials, dating to periods II-III (Fig. 36: c). Four wands
belong to females, aged 18-50 (IUG.l400, IUK.l605,
IUA.1705, HRJ.1900), one to a child (IUG.1408) and
two to males, aged,.45-57 (IUG.1405, IUK.1615). All
were accompanied by a small lithic or clay flagon,
which served most likely as a cosmetic container.
The wands vary from 12.5 em. to 18 em. in length
with a maximum diameter of 0.5 em. The pin from
HMY.1800 is much shorter and slightly thicker. Five
types have been identified, including a pin, on the basis
of its similarity to one of the wand types. Pin 1800/3
ends in an S-shaped tip, much resembling a needle (type
1). The first of four wand types has an additional
detached hook-shaped protrusion.
Wands with flat lozenge-shaped tips are most often
recorded, including an indented variety (1615/55),
78
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
II?
181M
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.
?
.
1!105.16
1606.17
1713.5
a. Seals
~~
ии'
~; :~
2000.5
-
D
130LI
2302.2
16148.4
~
2513.8
2513.10
Cl~]~
b. Bones
y
2
3b
3a
4
c. Wands/Pins
Type L 18003- Type 2. 19003- Type 3a. 1400.6111405.23- Type 3b. 1615.55- Type4. 1605.15- Type 5. 1408.7
Fig. 36. Seals, bones and wands/pins.
79
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
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c. 1517
d. 2811
b.2810
a. 2801
'$""\
f
/~
g. 2800
J
I
~
"
f. 1515
j.2300
i. 2510
h. 1511
e.1703
Fig. 37. Necklaces and beads.
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80
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
81
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
TABLE 7. Metal objects.
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Inv.no.
Item
Mat
L. (em.)
W.(cm.)
Th. (em.)
D. (em.)
Provenience,
gender
Period.
1400/58
mirror
culbr
0.2
8.8
IUG.l400 (f)
1605/14
mirror
culbr
0.2
7.5
IUK.l605 (f)
III
1400/61
wand
culbr
12.5
0.4
IUG.l400(f)
IV
1405/23
wand
culbr
18
0.5
IUG.l405 (m)
III
140817
wand
culbr
0.3
IUG.l408 (i)
IV
1605/15
warid
culbr
12.7, tip: 1.1
x2.5
16
0.3
IUK.l605 (f)
III
1615/55
culbr
14
0.6
IUK.l615 (m)
II
culbr
Max. 8.7
0.3-0.5
IUA.1705 (f)
III
1900/3
wand,
fragment
wand,
fragment
wand
culbr
17.7
0.3
HRJ.l900 (f)
II
1800/3
pin
culbr
8
0.6
HMY.l800 (-)
II
1614 a/ 2-3
2 daggers,
fragmentary
tip of a
triangular
blade
triangular
blade
3 rods,
fragment
culbr
-
IUK.1614 a (m)
II
culbr
4.8
IUA.1708 (i)
II
culbr
20
IUF.2810 (i)
II
culbr
3.7, 3.8; 4.4
HYE.2504 (-)
I?
1705/53
1708/11
2810/10
2504/5
max. 6
which resembles a stepped cross. Similar pins are
frequently attested at looted "Bactrian" burials (Pottier
1984). Type 4 is also indented, but has an oval outline.
It compares to an example from Altyn Depe, found in
a Namazga IV period burial (Masson 1988, pl.
XXXVII, 5).
3.3. Weapons and implements
Metal weapons are extremely rare and were only
recovered from three burials, all dating to period II. The
best preserved example is a long triangular blade with a
straight tang from grave IUF.2180, belonging to an 11year-old child. The infant burial IUA.l708 yielded a
second blade, from which only the tip survived.
Comparable blades come from the Gonur cemetery,
Khurab and Susa, all dating to the Ur ill period (Pottier
1984: 14). Two daggers from the second male burial in
grave IUK.1614 disintegrated when they came in contact
with the air and were too fragmentary for restoration.
Three rod fragments from grave HYE.2504, of the
transitional period 1-11, are the only metal objects of this
period recorded so far. Two of them have a flattened or
globular tip and may have been used for bead making.
0.4
IV
4. Lithic objects
4.1. Flagons (Fig. 40: a-d)
Seven burials, dating to periods 11-IY, contained
small tubular, square or hom-shaped flagons, and were
accompanied by copper/bronze wands. The flagons are
usually attributed to females, but also appear in male (2)
and infant (1) burials. Comparable, though larger objects
from Turkmenistan and Bactrian sites, were identified as
lamps on the basis of chemical analysis of the contents,
a lead-based subs4ltlce (Pottier 1984: 38f., fig. 37,
261--64; pl. XXXI, 261.264). Shahr-i Sokhta's flagons
are too small for such an analysis, but they certainly
served as containers for cosmetic substances, i.e. kohl.
All flagons are made of alabaster, chlorite or clay and
have a separate lid with a small cylindrical perforation in
order to fit the wand. The lid is usually made of the same
material, except for the example from grave IUG.l408,
which has a black chlorite trunk and a lid of white,
veined alabaster.
Three types of flagons are attested, covering the
whole chronological range. The first and apparently
earliest type consist of flagons which are almost
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
82
TYPE
MATERIAL
p
GRAVE
1.Annular
Alabaster, carnelian, terracotta
0
=
== 0
10
2. Cylindrical
Chalcedony, kaolin, lapis lazuli,
=0
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5. Globular
==
I иII
Bone. carnelian, limestone
lUG 1408/10,1UG 141019.1UG 14141110. IUL 151619.
IUL 151717.1UA 170213.1UA 170316, IUF 260115.
IUF 2810/13
1-11
IV
lapis lazuli, chalcedony,
lUG 141019.1UL 151517, IUA 170316.1BP 2300/4,
HYN260014
0
=o
limestone, gold, gold plated
=и=и
II
II
Frit, glass paste
IBP 230015, HYN 260014
Alabaster, chalcedony, limestone
lUG 1406110.1UL 151111.1UL 1515fl.IUK 1607/4.
HYN 2600/4, IUF 281115.1UF 2810113
6. Elongated ovoid
=o
I иII
IV
---
- ?
7. Biconical
...,
lUG 1411l/9,1UL 1515fl, IUL 151619. IUK 1607/4.
IUA 170213. IUA 170316.1BP 2300/6. HYN 2600/4
IUF 260115,1UF 2809110,1UF 2810/13
lapis/gold, turquoise
3. Conical
4. Ovoid
IUC 1300/11,1UC 130112.1UG 14048145, lUG 1414/1,
lUG 141411,1UG 1416/5, IUL 151619.1UL 151919,
IUL 152018. IUK 1601/8, IUK 1604/4, IUK 1605120.
IUK 161014, IUK 1613/4, IUK 1615156, IUA 1702/3.
IUA 170316.1UA 1716/11.1UA 1717/8,1UF 281113
Chalcedony, jasper
lUG 141019.1UL 151311, IUK 1615157. HYE 250113,
IUF 2810113.1UF 261115
1-11
B. Flat triangular
~
0
lapis lazuli
IUA281115
Chalcedony
IUF 2810/13
II
9. Flat conical
40
II
10. lozenge-shaped
0 t
Chalcedony, turquoise
IUL 151311, IUA 170316
Turquoise
HYE250113
II
11. Flat lentoid
?
0
II
a. Preliminary typology of Shahr-e Sukheteh beads
180
155
160
140
124
120
100
80
60
20
...
41
40
ft
1
1
~
~
2
3
i i i...
i=
~
1
1
2
0
~
i
I'
...lJ
ID
i
i
4
-
~.:..;.
1?
13 ?
)>
~ (f &>
~ iIIi' "0I╗ .a'2
... ?? c:0 m. ? i
.
::1
!{
t ???
b. Materials used for bead making
Fig. 39. Beads.
I'
::1
i ;иg i9.
r-
f
Д,
?
0
::1
'<
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EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
Fig. 40. Flagons
83
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84
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
85
TABLE 8. Flagons.
Inv.no.
Item
Material
L. (em.)
W. (em.)
D. (em.)
Provenance,
Period
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gender
1400/56
flagon
1405/17
flagon
1408/9
flagon
alabaster,
white
alabaster
10.8
2.2-4.3
8.7
lUG 1400 (f)
max.4
IV
lUG 1405 (m)
III
lUG 1408 (i)
IV
IUK 1605 (f)
III
1605/16
flagon
chlorite, lid:
alabaster
alabaster
1615/54
flagon
alabaster
7.4
max. 4.2
!UK 1615 (m)
II
1705/54
flagon
clay
5.8
2.1-4
IUA 1705 (f)
III
1900/7
flagon
alabaster
7
2.7-3.5
HRJ 1900 (f)
I-II
1900/8
Lid
alabaster
1
3.5
HRJ 1900 (-)
I-II
4.2, lid: 0. 7
4.8
cylindrical and decorated with small, incised circles
(1900/7). Flagons of the second type are more
sophisticated and appear in period III. They are of
conical shape and may be square (1605/16) or circular in
section (1705/54, 1408/9). A variant with a slightly
everted foot appears during the latest phase of Shahr-i
Sokhta (1400/55-56). Most of these flagons have only a
small cavity, except for 1705/54, which is hollowed out.
Flagons of the third type are attested as early as
period II. The cones with a curved tip remind us of an
animal's hom (1405/17, 1615/54). All three types are
attested from burials and domestic contexts at Altyn
Depe (periods Namazga IV-V), the first type dating to
the end of period V (Masson 1988: pl.XLI). Conical and
tubular flagons are also recorded from illicit excavations
in Bactria (Pottier 1984).
4.2. Lithic objects and tools (Fig. 38: b, d, e, f, g)
Lithic objects and tools, predominantly for domestic
and industrial purposes, were recovered from eight
graves, dating to periods I-II. Two small flat stones from
the male burial IUA.1718 and the infant burial
HYE.2511 probably served as grinding slabs, perhaps
for cosmetic substances. This is especially noticeable
with the stone from the first burial, which has a very
smooth surface. An oval stone with a shallow carved out
cavity (1713/8) (Fig. 38: g) certainly served as a
grinding slab for similar purposes. The rod-shaped
object with triangular section and rounded ends from
HYI.2903 may likewise be identified as a pestle.
Plain cubical objects were found in burials IUL.1519
and HYI.2901 (Fig. 37: f). The frrst made of volcanic
rock and weighing only 75 grams, has one evenly
smoothened surface and may have been used for
polishing skins or comparable soft materials. Grave
1.2-2.5
HYI.2901 yielded a second lithic object of spherical
shape with unknown function, presumably a sling stone.
Besides unfinished beads and wasters, burial
HTR.2701 contained a set of five minute, partly broken
cylindrical drill-heads made of jasper with ascending
diameters (19-26 mm.) and several intact or fragmentary
flint blades with triangular section, all well-known
lapidary tools. Its inventory compares to that of the gemcutter's graves G.12 and G.77 from earlier excavations
(Piperno 1976: 9-14, fig. 2). The infant burial IUA.1708
yielded three further triangular flint blades.
5. Clay and terracotta objects
Except for terracotta beads, very few other clay
objects were recorded, all of which date to periods I-II.
Grave IUL.1500 (period I-II) yielded a unique terracotta
object resembling a stylised pomegranate with a tiny hole
at the tip, which probably served as a perfume bottle (Fig.
38: h). Most probably, it belonged, to the female
IUL.1500 a, who was accompanied by two infants.
The function of th~bi-conical clay object from the
male burial IUB.1201, which resembles an unfinished
chalice, is uncertain. A small rectangular hole is preserved
in the centre of its cavity, probably for holding a stick.
Further items are a spindle whorl from the male
burial IUK.1615 and a reel from the twelve-year-old
infant's burialiUA.1700.
6. Bone objects (Fig. 36: b)
Five burials from periods I-II contained bone objects,
predominantly long flat sticks with sharpened ends
86
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
TABLE 9. Bone objects.
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Inv.no.
Item
L. (em.)
W. (em.)
Th. (em.)
Provenance,
gender
Period
1301/1
rod
16.5
1
0.1
IUC.1301 (m)
?
1614 a/4
rod
8.5
1
max. 0.5 em.
IUK.1614 a(-)
II
2000/5
7.7
1.4
0.4
GTS. 2000 (-)
II
2302/2
rod,
fragmentary
rod
18.3
1.4
2513/8
awl
10.5
2513/10
edge of a lid
6.5
0.4
IPB.2302 (i)
I-II
Dm:0.7
HYE.2513 (-)
I
1.5
HYE.2513 (-)
I
1.7
(IUC.1301, IUK.1614a, GTS.2000, and IPB.2302). The
sticks vary from 8.5-18.3 em. in length with a maximum
width of 1.4 em. (Table 9). Their precise function is
uncertain. A rod from the Italian excavations in grave
IRD.311 was used for engraving or painting pottery
(Piperno 1979: 132 f., fig. 7). Comparable ivory rods
with geometrical decoration were found in the "priests'
tomb" cf Masson 1988 at Altyn Depe, resembling an
item from Mohenjo-Daro, which probably served as a
game stick (Masson 1988: 65, pl.XIX, item 2;
Anonymous 1987:273, fig. C 79c; Kenoyer 1998).
The awl from HYE.2513 compares to those from the
Eastern Residential Area and Central Quarters and is
probably cut out of the ulna of a sheep or goat (Salvatori
and Vidale 1997: 76).
7. Wooden burial objects
Wooden objects are rare, but remarkably well
preserved (Table 10). The majority was found in
catacomb IUG.1400, a period IV collective burial with
two females (IUG.1400, 1400a), a 50-60 year old male
(IUG.1400b) and a 6--8 year old child (IUG.1400c). The
most peculiar object is a circular mirror box
(IUG.1400/57-58), consisting of a conical base with
recessed edge, which fits a similarly shaped lid (Fig. 41:
h). The mirror box lay inside a circular basket together
with an intact, rectangular wooden comb with a crescentshaped handle (IUG.1400/62) (Fig. 41: g). It is matched
by a fragmentary example from grave 1404, lying next to
a male (Fig. 41: f). Comparable combs have already been
found in the Eastern Residential Area and the Central
Quarters (Tosi 1969: 365 f, figs. 207-8; Costantini 1977:
36--39; Salvatori & Vidale 1998: 76, fig. 243, 1-5). An
ivory comb with incised circles from the Harappan layers
of Miri Qalat (period IV) in Kech-Makran corroborates
this late date (Besenval1997: 27, fig. 37).
Further remains from the female burial IUG.1400
include a deep conical ladle with a short handle, lying
inside a plain buff ware pot (IUG.1400/10), which
clearly identifies it as a utensil for pouring liquids (Fig.
41: e). It bears a small suspension hole at the top, still
containing a small wooden nail. The ladle is heavily
riddled with holes, probably caused by termites.3 4
A perforated wooden cone from the same grave,
which resembles a spindle whorl, is equally marked by
insect damage (IUG.1400 b-c/10). It bears a
TABLE 10. Wooden Objects.
Inv.no.
Item
L. (em.)
W. (em.)
Th. (em.)
D. (em.)
8.1
Provenance,
gender
Period
1400/55
ladle
IUG.1400 (f)
IV
1400/57
mirror box
2.9
17
IUG.1400 (f)
IV
1400/57
lid
2.5
16
IUG.l400 (f)
IV
1400/62
comb
9.3
4.1-8.2
IUG.1400 (f)
IV
1404 a/ 73
8.5
6.5
IUG.1404 a (m)
IV
1404 a/45
comb,
fragmentary
rod
1400 b--c/10
conical lid
10
1
2
3.5
IUG.1404 a (m)
IV
IUG.1400 b-e (m/i)
IV
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
longitudinal perforation, still containing a small wooden
nail. The cone served as a stopper for a small buff ware
jar (IUG.l400 b-c/9), similar to clay stoppers from
domestic contexts. A comparable wooden stopper was
found in a kitchen in square RYL (Tosi 1969: 366, fig.
218; Costantini 1977: 27-29, Inv.no. 6183).
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8. Basketry (Fig. 41: b-e, d; Figs. 10: b, d; 12: a-e)
Seven graves yielded wickerwork products, well
enough preserved to reconstruct the manufacturing
techniques. Furnishing the grave with a rush mat, on
which the deceased were laid, appears to be one of the
peculiarities. of Shahr-i Sokhta's funerary customs. A
different utilisation is attested from the Shahdad
cemetery, where mats covered the deceased (Hakemi
1997: 62 f.).
Shahr-i Sokha's rush mats were found in four burials,
dating to periods II (HTR.2700, HRJ.1900) to IV
(IUG.l400). While the mat from grave HRJ.l900
survived only in traces, the example from the female
burial IUG.1400 is almost intact, measuring 130 x 50 em.
(Fig. 10: d). The plaited mat is brownish, discoloured by
the soil. Impressions of a similar mat were found on the
floor of the so-called burial chamber of priests at Altyn
Depe (excavation 7, room 7) (Masson 1988: 67, fig.
22.2). Circular baskets of different sizes appear more
often and are attested throughout periods II-IY. The
largest example (IUG.l400 b-c/13) has a diameter of33
em., and the fragmentary basket 140511 was preserved to
a height of 12 em. Out of seven graves, one (IUG. 1414)
contained up to five baskets, all attributed to a male. The
infant buried nearby was equipped with the only
wickerwork saucer recorded so far (IUG.1404 b/21 ).
One of the females buried in grave IUG.l400 had
four baskets, two of which contained vessels, mortars
and cosmetic objects (IUG.1400/25, 1400/54). Baskets
are usually made of twisted reed cords, which were
curled up and fixed with thin strings of straw to form the
bottom and the trunk. Altyn Depe's "chamber of priests"
yielded the impression of a similar basket (Masson
1988: fig. 22.3).
9. Textiles and leather (Fig. 10: a-c)
Fifteen graves yielded textiles, predominantly in a
very poor state of preservation. In fact, most textiles
87
disintegrated, when getting in contact with the air.
Except for some fragments from the richly furnished
infant burial IUA.1707, the remaining examples are
brownish, discolored and too carbonised for reconstruction.35
Given the state of the coarse texture found in the
graves, we can assume that most probably the majority
of funerary textiles served as shrouds. In some cases
infants were wrapped inside a shroud, while adults were
usually laid on a shroud and covered with two separate
pieces of cloth. The texture of the cover is occasionally
more delicate than the flooring cloth. In burialiUF.2802
the fragments were attached to the skull and the jaws of
the male, and in burial IUL.1500 they still covered the
femur of the infant. In one case at least the cover may
have been decorated with beads (female burial
IUA.l705).
The only possible evidence for leather comes from
the craftsman's grave HTR 2701. A small bag made of
a reddish substance, containing a series of unfmished
beads and wasters, disintegrated while opening the
grave. Chemical analyses will have to prove the exact
nature of the skin.
10. Conclusion
The remarkable preservation of the small fmds from
the burials helps significantly to elucidate the intricate
funerary customs of Shahr-i Sokhta throughout the
existence of this important site.
The association of cylinder and compartmented
seals with female burials compares well with the
results of earlier excavations. This confirms that the
females had an important role in the economical
control of the city, and consequently had a rather high
social position.
With regard to the beads from periods I-11, a
significant difference is noticeable in comparison to
periods II-III. Locally available semi-precious and
ornamental stones such as comelian and limestone
prevail in contrast to periods II-III, when imported
turquoise became predominant. Imitations of turquoise
with light green kaolin and glass paste underline the
popularity of this semi-precious stone in periods I-II.
Later, it was much more easily available, which is
demonstrated by the expansion of trade relations with
the north and growing prosperity at Shahr-i Sokhta
during period III.
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
88
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SKELETAL REMAINS (1997-99):
PRELIMINARY OBSERVATION (Fig. 42: a-b)
by F. Forouzarifar
From a total of 149 human skeletons found in 131
graves, thirty-seven, 25%, are males, thirty-three, 22%,
are children, and twenty-nine, 19.5%, individuals are
female. The remaining skeletons, fifty individuals, or
33%, could not be examined because of strong caries.
Here only burials found during 1~7-99 are examined
(Table 11 ). Skeletal remains are divided into three main
groups: 1. Complete skeletons, 2. Incomplete skeletons,
and 3. Not examinable skeletons. The last group consists
of decayed and carious bones (IUL.1508, NAB.2400,
HYN. 2600), or broken and very fragmentary bones,
that at the present time cannot be studied in order to
obtain useful data (HYN.2602, HTR.2702). Sometimes
the data obtained is limited to the age, sex or stature of
the individuals (IUB.l200, IUG.1415, IUL.1514,
IUA.l704, HYE. 2503).
Considering the above-mentioned factors, a total of
twenty-eight skeletal remains were distinguished and
grouped as not examinable samples, IRS.l1 00,
IRS.llOl, IRS. 1102, IUG.1401, IUG.1402, IUL.1502,
IUL.1508, IUL.1514, IUA.1701, IUA.1707, HMY.1800,
HRJ.1901, HRJ.1902, GTS.2000, IPB.2301, IPB.2301a,
IPB.2301b, NAB.2400, NAB.2401, HYE.2500,
HYE.2501, HYE.2504, HYN.2600, HYN.2601,
HYN.2602, HTR.2701, HTR.2702, HTR.2703a. In
addition, on the basis of available data, we could not
distinguish the sex of ten individuals.
Considering the two factors of sex and age, skeletal
remains are divided ino five groups, i.e. male, female,
child, newborn and foetus. From a total of sixty-six
adults, thirty-two female and thirty-four male, fifty-nine
cases were examined. Skeletal remains of these
individuals yielded, due to good grave condition and
adequate skeletal preservation, good possibilities for
examination. Table 11 shows the details of the graves
and their individuals, including the number, state of
preservation of the skeletons, and the age and sex of
these individuals.
For classification and interpretation of skulls
fourteen indexes (Alexiev and Debetz 1964), and for
bodies twenty indexes, were taken into consideration. 36
Remains of 1 to 12-year-old human skeletons
(children, infants, newborn and foetuses) are classified
as a unique group of designated children. As can be seen
in Table 12, almost half of twenty-one children are
buried together with an adult, most likely their father or
mother. Among these samples, eight of them are
newborn or foetuses, in three cases they are related to
abortion, and in five other cases the newborn died before
completing his first year oflife. All foetuses and infants,
except for one, IUL.150 1, are buried together with an
adult, most likely their father of mother. This last foetus
was buried together with a female, from which only the
lower part of body was found, together with a fragment
of radius bone (Table 12).
Traces of burning are visible on the remains of some
skeletons. In the multiple burial, GTS.2000, skeletal
remains of a young female, two children and two young
TABLE. 11. Skeletal remains.
Grave No.
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skeleton
Skull
Tooth
1200
-
1201
not complete
I
-
Age
Body
-
1300
examined
not
examinable
not complete not complete not
examinable
examined
examined
complete
1301
examined
examined
1400
examined
1400a
not complete
1400b
not complete
1400c
1403a
Sex
Age
Calculated
Approx.
Age
40-45
-
-
M
?
55-60
53.6
F
30-35
36.9
M
examined
complete
examined
examined
complete
16-18
-
F
examined
examined
not complete
45-50
43.7
F
-
-
not complete
50-56
-
F
-
-
-
6-8
-
Child
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
complete
13-14
-
F
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-I SOKHTA
Grave No.
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Skeleton
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skull
Tooth
I
Body
-
Sex
-
F
Infant
-
Child
45-55
59.1
?
-
M
Child
30-40
-
F
07-Aug
-
Child
50-55
53.7
M
1.5
Inf.
Inf.
45-50
-
F
30-40
-
M
25-30
-
M
25-30
-
M
45-55
-
M
40-45
-
M
30-35
-
F
10-12
-
Child
30-40
-
F
complete
complete
not
examinable
complete
35-40
-2
2-3
42.2
F
Inf.
Inf.
-
55-QO
25-30
Fetus
59.9
34.8
30-35
-1
-
F
Newborn
Newborn
-
Newborn
1.5
-
Inf.
40-50
-
F
-1
-
Newborn
-
1404b
-
1405
1406
examined
1407
-
1408
-
1408a
-
1409
-
1410
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
examined
complete
examined
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete not complete not
examinable
not
examinable
examined
not complete not complete
1411
-
-
-
1412
-
-
-
1413
-
-
-
1414
-
-1
-
1414a
-
-
-
1415
-
-
-
1415a
-
-
-
1416
examined
examined
examined
1500
1500a
1500b
examined
examined
examined
-
-
-
-
-
-
examined
examined
examined
examined
-
Age
Approx.
Age
Age
Calculated
45-50
1404a
-
89
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
ISOla
1503
1504
1505
1506
examined
examined
examined
examined
examined
-
-
-
1507
-
-
-
1509
-
-
-
1510
-
-
-
complete
complete
complete
Not
examinable
Not
examinable
Not
examinable
not complete
1511
-
-
-
not complete
-
-
-
M
M
90
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
Grave No.
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Skeleton
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skull
Tooth
I
Body
Age
Age
Approx.
Calculated
Age
Sex
1512a
examined
examined
examined
complete
25-30
-
F
1512b
examined
examined
examined
complete
45-50
53.7
M
1513
-
-
-
30-35
34.8
M
1514a
-
-
-
10-12
-
Child
1515
-
not complete
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
12-14
-
M
1516
-
-
not complete
not complete
25-30
-
M
1517
not complete
examined
examined
not complete
45-50
57.8
M
1518
-
-
-
30-40
-
F
1519
-
-
-
35-40
-
M
1520
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
1521
-
-
-
1600
-
-
-
45-40
33.6
F
40-45
-
?
-5
-
Child
35-40
-
M
30-40
43.7
F
3-4
-
Inf.
F
1601
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
1602
examined
examined
examined
complete
1603
not complete
examined
not complete
not complete
1604
examined
examined
examined
complete
20-25
-
1605
-
-
-
complete
20-25
-
F
1606
examined
-
-
Fetus
-
Fetus
1607
examined
examined
examined
not
examinable
not complete
35-40
-
M
1609
examined
examined
-
not complete
35-40
-
M
1610
examined
examined
examined
complete
25-30
-
F
12-14
-
?
-
-
F
35-40
-
F
35-40
-
M
40-45
43.7
F
45-50
51.5
M
Newborn
1700
-
-
-
1702
-
-
-
1703
-
-
-
1704
-
-
-
1705
-
examined
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
1706
not complete
examined
examined
not complete
1708
-
-
-
-
-
1709
-
-
35-40
-
M
1710
-
not
examinable
complete
-
-
not complete
10-11
-
Child
1900
not complete
-
-
not
examinable
35-40
-
F
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
Grave No.
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Skeleton
State of preservation of skeletal remains
Skull
Tooth
I
Body
91
Age
Age
Approx.
Calculated
Age
Sex
examined
examined
complete
18-20
-
F
-
-
-
not complete
5-7
-
Child
2000d
not complete
not complete
not complete
not complete
10-11
-
Child
2100
-
-
-
30--40
-
F
2300
not complete
examined
examined
not
examinable
not complete
53-60
61.6
F
2300a
-
-
-
8-10
-
Child
2302
-
-
-
2502
-
-
-
2503
-
-
-
2505
-
2506
-
2507
2000b
examined
2000c
-
-
Newborn
40-45
-
?
50-55
-
?
-
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
complete
2-3
examined
not complete
25-30
-
Inf.
examined
-
examined
-
2-3
-
Inf.
2508
-
examined
-
not
examinable
not complete
40--45
-
M
2508a
-
examined
-
20-22
-
F
2700
-
-
-
40-50
-
?
2703
-
-
-
50-60
-
?
2703b
-
-
-
8-10
-
Child
2800
not complete
not complete
examined
50-55
50
M
2801
-
-
-
30-35
-
F
2802
-
-
-
35-40
-
M
2803
-
-
-
"12-13
-
F
2804
-
-
-
-
-
Newborn
2806
examined
examined
examined
25-30
-
F
-
M
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not
examinable
not complete
M
2807
-
-
examined
complete
35-40
2808
examined
examined
examined
not complete
45-50
2809
-
examined
examined
not complete
22-25
-
F
2810
-
examined
examined
not complete
35-40
-
M
2811
examined
examined
-
not complete
45-50
-
M
2812
examined
-
-
not complete
7-8
-
Child
M
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
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92
and sexually undetermined individuals were found.
Most parts of the skeletons were burnt, their colour
turning to brown. In another multiple burial, IUL.l500,
belonging to a 35-40-year-old female and two infants,
1500a, 1500b, traces ofbuming are obvious. In the case
of the skeleton of a 30-35-year-old corpulent male,
IUC.l30 1, traces ofburning can be seen on fragments of
the vertebral column, maxilla and frontal bone. Another
case of is seen on the costal cartilage of a 60-year-old
female, IPB.2300, the oldest individual ever found at
Shahr-i Sokhta.
Enlargement at the level of the central part of both
parietal regions of a 4 year old girl's skull shows some
signs of a hydrocephalic illness. This is the second case
ofhydrocephalus at Shahr-i Sokhta.37
Almost all distinguished illness cases are due to hard
physical activities or hard environmental conditions. A
total of twenty cases oflumbar vertebral osteo-arthritis is
present (IUG.l400b, IUG.l410, IUG.l412, IUL.l503,
IUL.151 0, IUL.1512b, IUL. 1517, IUK.l609, IUK.l61 0,
IUA.1703, IUA.1705, IUA.1706, IUA.1709, HYE.2502,
HYE.2503, HYE.2508, IUF.2801, IUF.2807, IUF.2808,
IUF.2810 and IUF.2811). Individuals above 30 years
were plagued by this illness.
Another common illness at Shahr-i Sokhta was the
compression of the vertebrae at a younger age,
IUG.l412, HYE.2502, IUF.2801, or deformation of
vertebrae (compression, degeneration: IUG.1414,
IUL.l519, IUL.l5121, IUA.1703, and IUF.2800). At a
younger age this illness is due to the hard physical labour
conditions at Shahr-i Sokhta. In male inhabitants it starts
to appear around their thirtieth year and in females at 30
to 35 years of age. This indicates the equal participation
of both sexes in everyday hard labour.
Sex, stature and age of sixty-six adult individuals
above twelve years, thirty-four male, thirty-two female,
TABLE. 12. Approx. Age: New-born, Infants and Children.
Grave No.
Age
Note
1400b
7
Buried together with 3 adult individuals
1403b
11
Buried together with a 13/15 year old female
1404b
3
Buried together with a 45-50 year old male
1406
-
Buried individually
1408
7.5
Buried together with a 50 year old male
1409
1.5
Buried individually
1415a
11
Buried together with a 30-35 year old female
1500a
1.5
Buried together with a 37.5 year old female and another child
1500b
2.5
Buried together with a 37.5 year old female and another child
1501a
Fetus
Buried together with and adult female
1506
Infants
Buried individually
1507
Newborn
Buried individually
1507
3.5
Buried individually
1509
1.5
Buried individually
1511
Infant
Buried individually
1514a
11
Buried together with an adult individual with undetermined sex
1600
5
Buried individually
1603
4
Buried individually, probably Hydrocephalus
1606
Fetus
Buried individually
1708
Newborn
Buried individually
2000c
6
Buried together with three adults and one child
2000d
10.5
Buried together with three adults and one child
2300a
9
Buried together with a 60 year old female
2302
Infant
Buried individually
2505
2.5
Buried individually
2507
3
Buried individually
2703b
9
Buried together with two adults
2812
9
Buried individually
EXCAVATIONS AT SHAHR-1 SOKHTA
93
100%
87%
90%
1
_/
70%
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!ill%
AO%
10%
/
I
7U
1%
1%
5
6
2%
2%
0
3
0%
I
L
I
I
------'
2
a. Percentage of number of skeletons in single Grave
---------27%
--
/27%
25%~--/--r---%
20%~--/~-15%+-----------------~------------------------
/"
10%+-----/___,.....____-----.,..-_
5%+----------~~---------------------------------------------------------
/
0%+------------r----------~------------~----------~----------~----------~
~
~
C
?
F
M
b. Percentage of the inhumed (Fe= foetus, Inf. =infant, C =child,?= unidentified individual, F =female, M =male)
Fig. 42. Percentage of burials
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94
JOURNAL OF PERSIAN STUDIES
and eight newborn/infants and twenty-one children
were examined. The stature of individuals are
calculated on the basis of nine standard indexes.
According to these calculations, the average stature of
males is 162.7 em. The range of male stature starts from
a very short height,150-155 em., to extremely tall,
190+ em., but the majority are between 158-175 em.
Thus males could be classified as fairly short
individuals between 160 to 165 em. The range of stature
of females starts with extremely sllort, 140--145 em., to
rather tall individuals, 165-170 em. The tallest females
are between 150 to 165 em. The difference between
average male and female stature is 8.1 em.
The average age of individuals is calculated on the
basis of the mean table, according to which, the death
age for males is 26--53 and females 26--39 years. The
oldest male, IUL.1503 and the oldest female, IUC.l300
and IPB.2300, were between 55-60 years old, while the
middle average ofthe age of males was 39.2 and those
offemales was 33.2 years.
Notes
For a detailed geological set up of the region see Jux and
Kempf1983.
Although British visitors to the region visited the site in the
eighteenth century, its real archaeological discoverer was Sir
Aurel Stein, the great Anglo-Hungarian explorer (Stein
1928).
For almost ten years, an Italian expedition excavated this site.
M. Tosi, was head of the expedition for several years and had
an important role in presenting and introducing the
importance of this site to the world of Iranian archaeology.
Efforts and contributions of scholars such as M. Piperno, S.
Salvatori, G. Bulgarelli, R. Biscione, L. Costantini, and other
collabomtors of the expedition, were no less important.
Thanks to their work, there now exists suitable and reliable
information regarding different aspects of the society of
Shahr-i Sokhta of the fourth and third millennium B.C. The
bibliogmphy of Shahr-i Sokhta, regarding different aspects
of archaeological research, has been compiled in different
languages, mainly in English and Italian, and is very
extensive. A list of publications on this site is available in
Lazzari 1999. The correct translitemtion of the name of this
site is: Sahr-e Suxteh, written also as Shahr-e Sukhteh. To
continue with the tradition introduced by the Italian
Expedition to the Middle Eastern archaeological litemture,
we follow this form of transliteration.
4
The new series of excavations at Shahr-i Sokhta is currently
carried out under the auspices of the Iranian Cultural
Heritage Organisation (ICHO). The author would like to
thank H.E. S.M. Beheshti, Vice-minister of the Ministry of
Culture and Islamic Guidance of I.R. of Iran and Geneml
Director of the ICHO, for his support of this expedition. My
warmest thanks also go to Mr J. Golshan, deputy director of
the same organisation who, in addition to supporting the
expedition on different occasions, made available all the
facilities for this research. Mr N.N. Cheghini and Dr M.
Azamoush, former and present directors of the
Archaeological Service of ICHO, in addition to their
support of this expedition, organised all the necessary
facilities during the excavations. I would like to remember
the kindness and interminable efforts of Mr Alireza
Khosmvy, head of the local ICHO office in Zabol for easing
the difficult working and living conditions of the members
of the expedition. I would also like to thank KR.S. Sajjadi
for his translation of this text into English. Finally I feel duty
bound to mention the encouragement, indefatigable support
and suggestions of my wife, Angela Di Giovanni Romano,
in completing this work Members of the expedition during
1997-2000 were S.M.S. Sajjadi, Director, B.Omrani,
R.M.Zaruri, R.Shirazi, F.Saber Moqaddam, M.Heydari,
Archaeologists, A.Zahedi, O.Salari, H.Moradi, D.Momeni,
M.Bagheri, T.Shahraki, M. Abedi, Excavation assistants
and designers, and F. Foruzanfar, anthropologist.
This is the first preliminary report of the first four years of
excavations at the gmveyard of Shahr-i Sokhta. The
detailed, technical and not analytical results, in Persian, of
these first four years is presently in press (Gozareshha-ye
Shahr-e Sukhteh l, Tehmn 1382/2003).
The measurements and the number of estimated tombs of
the gmveyard are still contradictory. In a report published
two years after the beginning of the excavations the area of
gmveyard was estimated at around 25 ha (Piperno & Tosi
1975: 123). Later, on another occasion, the area of the
gmveyard was estimated at being 20 ha., with 22,000 graves
(Piperno 1977: 138) and again 30 ha., with 20,000 graves
(Piper
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