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Ancient Warriors

Warrior Found Buried In Attack Position


By Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News Jan. 27, 2006 Archaeologists have unearthed a 3,000-year-old skeleton of a man who appears to be clutching a dagger and is posed as though he were about to thrust the weapon into something, or someone, according to a Cultural Heritage News report from Iran. The unusual burial is the first of its kind for Iran, and possibly for the rest of the world. "He is holding a 26-centimeter dagger and appears to be making a forward thrust," said archaeologist Ali Mahforuzi, who led the excavation at Gohar Tepe, where the skeleton was found.

Pictures: Courtesy of CHN (Cultural Heritage News)/CAIS (The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies) | Buried Warrior This 3,000-year-old skeleton of a man appears to be clutching a dagger and is posed as though he were about to thrust the weapon into something, or someone.

Gohar Tepe is located in northeastern Iran near the town of Behshahr and the Caspian Sea. "Beside the skeleton, a number of dishes have also been found which seem to have been presented to the warrior," Mahforuzi said. "One of the dishes has some holes in it containing the remains of coal. "Archaeologists had discovered such dishes before, but they could not determine their practical application; but the traces of coal indicate that the dish has been used for burning agalloch (a soft, fragrant wood) or other types of incense." He added, "The skeleton was also wearing a beautiful coiled shell necklace." David Stronach is a world-renowned expert on ancient Iran and Iraq and is a professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He told Discovery News that the grave and the site of Gohar Tepe were located within a coastal corridor that stands between a broad plain to the East and both the forested coast and a number of major mountain passes to the South. This gateway region was likely a strategic site in ancient times. At one point it was marked by monumental "long walls" that ran from the Caspian Sea to the base of the nearby mountains, according to Stronach, who speculated that the interred man was either a famous warrior or hunter from the region. "The excavating team has rightly drawn attention to the unusual way in which this Iron Age personage was buried," he said. "Hundreds of tombs contain weapons, but it is unprecedented for an incumbent to

be buried in such a way that he appears to reach across his body to hold or perhaps, better, touch? one of his weapons." He explained that the "unusual pose" might have been designed "to stress his original repute as a warrior or a hunter of some note." Stronach mentioned that 200 miles to the west of Gohar Tepe, another skeleton previously was found "laid to rest on a veritable bed of weapons, including seven spearheads and five large daggers." The warlike appearance of the burials coincides with the history of the region at the time, around 1100 to 800 B.C. Until 550 B.C., most of the people in the area were divided amongst themselves. They also were under frequent attack from outside groups, such as the Assyrians. The early Iranians, however, later united and expanded their Persian Empire over Mesopotamia, Egypt and Asia Minor. A conflict with Greece in 490 B.C. led to a series of defeats that weakened, and eventually toppled, the enormous empire. Not everyone at Gohar Tepe was a warrior. The Iranian team of archaeologists also found the remains of an apparent musician who was buried next to an instrument that resembles a clarinet. Researchers are still studying the artifact, but they believe the approximately 3,000-year-old object could be the oldest instrument ever to have been found in Iran and possibly the entire Arab world. The excavation concluded late last year, but the researchers are continuing to analyze the findings. Eventually they hope to reconstruct exactly how the site was settled, and for how long. Some historians believe that hominids have occupied Gohar Tepe for over 400,000 years.

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