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Dr. Natascha Bagherpour | 01.12.2010 | 50318 Aufrufe | Artikel

Ancient Depositional Practices in Iran

Ich möchte einmal meine Arbeit in einer Zusammenfassung vorstellen und bin dankbar für Kommentare und Hinweise:
 
Studies of Ancient Depositional Practices and their Jewellery Finds, based on the Discoveries from Veshnaveh: a Source of Iranian History of Religion.

by Natascha Bagherpour Kashani

Based on comparative studies and a stratigraphical analysis, this research study gives an outline of the chronology of the jewellery finds that were during the excavation in the mines Chale Ghar 1 and 2. It is not be possible to give a very detailed chronology due to the insufficient state of research of Arsacid and Sasanian personal ornaments. Furthermore, the site is investigated by means of scientific examinations of amber and glass. An interpretation of the popular belief and the religious meaning of the site is put forward for single find groups and objects, as well as with help of the comparison to other sanctuaries that reveal similar characteristics as the mines from Veshnaveh.
 

The location and excavation of the site
 
Within the programme „Ancient Mining and Metallurgy in West Central Iran“ the German Mining Museum examined prehistoric copper mines in the central mountains of Iran. The archaeological area is located between the cities of Ghom and Kashan, near the village of Veshnaveh, about 150 km South of Teheran. In five excavation and survey campaigns during the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005 the region was examined, while in 2003 small finds of the first three seasons were documented and processed at the Mirasfarhangi-je Ghom (Archaeological Insitute in Ghom). The intention of the archaeologists was to investigate the regional prehistoric copper supply, the technique that was used to extract the metal from the rock and how the copper was traded. Several mines were accessible in the mining district of Laghe Morad, Mazrayeh and Chale Ghar and they were systematically examined and documented. The utilisation phase of the whole mining area obviously lay between the early 3rd and late 2nd millennium BC.

The mines Chale Ghar 1 and 2 - a sanctuary?
 
However, much later non-mining activity was proved by revealing finds in two of the mines: In the mine called Ghale Ghar 1, the archaeologists unexpectedly came across an ensemble of objects that were obviously not related to the mining activity at all. That happened in the year 2001, during one of the first excavation campaigns. In mine 1, thousands of finds were found: ceramic vessels and sherds, wood and wooden vessels, remains of nuts, shell and baked goods, animal bones, one textile fragment, jewellery such as glass and stone beads and pendants, metal finger rings and ear rings, as well as one glass vessel and sheets of decorated metal. All these objects had obviously been deposited in water that filled two parts of mine 1, the so-called main and rear chamber. In 2004 in Chale Ghar 2, a mine located above mine Chale Ghar 1, similar finds were unearthed, but in lesser numbers. The objects were excavated in one humid corner: some sherds, glass and stone beads, as well as on fragment of a glass vessel were uncovered there. The objects in Chale Ghar 1 were placed in the water in different manners. In the main chamber some vessels together with other finds were thoroughly covered with flat stones, while ceramic sherds and especially beads were scattered. In the rear chamber no complete vessels were uncovered, but sherds, beads and other small finds. In one corner in the entrance area some beads, sherds, animal bones, one coin and shells were found. Based on Radiocarbon dating and an Islamic coin the use of mine 1 could be ranged in from about 800 BC to the 8th century AD. According to A. Abar, the ceramics mainly date from the late Achaemenian to the Arsacid period, with few Sasanian sherds. The jewellery objects, however, belong to the Arsacid and mainly Sasanian periods. Archaeobotanical and archaeozoological studies were carried out by R. Pasternak and M. Doll; the results will be published soon. Obvioulsy, these two mines had been re-used after a hiatus of more than one millennium, not for gaining copper, but as a cult place. The water, the assembly of the finds and the depositional practice indicate that the two mines were sanctuaries and could be connected to a local Zoroastrian cult.

The jewellery finds from Chale Ghar: importance, outline and method of investigation
 
Jewellery found in Chale Ghar 1 and 2 is of special interest in this context. Firstly, the excavated jewellery is manifold in appearance as well as technical aspects and the analysis of the objects will bring new insight especially for the manufacturing methods of glass artefacts. Second, there is a lack of knowledge about Iranian personal ornaments, and the assemblage of the jewellery finds from the two mines will form a basis for further studies of such Iranian small finds. A detailed survey of the finds from Chale Ghar 1 and 2 will possibly provide additional information on Iranian and Near Eastern personal ornaments The chronological classification of the jewellery finds constitutes the substructure for further considerations. With the help of comparable finds, the objects will be set in their proper timeframe. For many finds this will be difficult due to the state of research. Only few publications deal with Iranian jewellery, and even fewer for such simple, popular artefacts that obviously had belonged to a rural community. A discussion of the technical aspects, especially of the glass beads, can contribute more information for the dating or manufacturing methods in some cases. Scientific analyses of the amber beads as well as of glass samples might answer questions about trade connections and technique, but can also raise further ones: was the raw material traded or the artefact? Were the glass beads manufactured locally or were they imported? Where did the glass or the artefacts come from? In Chale Ghar 1, the objects were naturally deposited singularly or as ensembles and obviously not in an indisputable sequence. Their chronological order cannot be understood without additional analysis. Therefore the lack of a clear stratigraphy has made it necessary to first conduct comparative studies. In turn, the results of this comparative study are reconsidered by means of the stratigraphy and the ceramic evidence. This observation, with reservation, demonstrates the manner and changes of deposition and the chronological classification of the jewellery finds. There are strong indications that the mines were used from a Zoroastrian community or pilgrims. Therefore, the meaning of the deposited objects should be considered. Along with the comparative studies, special find groups, but also individual objects, are interpreted according to their everyday use and their religious meaning. This includes colour, shape and material. Of course, these individual results are evaluated in context to see whether they can help to interpret the method and intention of the use of the mines.

Other sanctuaries
 
Chale Ghar 1 and 2 represents a unique find that can be compared to other archaeological sites only with difficulty. Still, caves in Iran are known, which reveal ritual activity in ancient times or even today; some places are known to have been sanctuaries especially because of their water supply other show a similar assemblage of offerings as those from the mines. The two mines cannot be set side by side with these sanctuaries, but their character is reflected in the ensemble of finds from Chale Ghar and their surrounding environment.

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