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IsMEO A CTIV ITIES The archaeologicalexcavations and restorations of IsMEO in Asia, of which a brie£ survey is given below, were carried out thanks to the cooperation of and a grant from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR). In the period May-September 1970, the Italian ArchaeologicalMission in Iran carried out its fourth campaign at Shahr-i Sokhta in Seistan. Excavation was directed by Dr M. Tosi with the following staff: Mrs F. Bonardi, photographer; Mr G. Graziani, assistant; Mr G. Regoli, restorer, and Mr T. Tamagnini, draftsman. Once again, the Iran Archaeological Service provided valuable heIp, its representative during the campaign being Mr A. Mirfahtah who undertook various tasks with unfailing comperence and courtesy. For the results 'of previous campaigns (196769), see EW, XVIII, 1968, pp. 9-66; XIX, 1969, pp. 283-386, 544 £. The main objective of this year's programme was to achieve the definitive reconstruction of the stratigraphical sequence of the settlement that developed during the 3rd milIenniumB.C., extended over a surface area of more than 100 hectares, and allows detaiIed study af one of the oldest phenomena of urban growth in south-west Asia. A trench 30 m. by 20 m. was dug on the south side of the Burnt Building belonging to Period IV which was localizedand excavated during the previous campaign. The sequence of four period5 was wholly laid bare, and in one narrow section af the dig, we got down to the natura! terrain, a depth of about 2 m. into it. The overall thickness of the archaeologicaldeposit is 11.10 m. formed by the continuaI repair of buildings and a resulting daiIy accumulation of detritus arising from filling and collapse. Periodscan be worked out on the basis of substantial variations in the plan ofbuildings and in the production af pottery vessels. Yet again, the cultural continuity of .the s,ettlement over its history is clear1y evident consisting af a dynamic variation of types and models, which was fairly slow, but certainly went hand in hand with the development of a community actively engaged in explaiting the resources af the region and in trading intensively with other, even remote, territories, especially during Periods II and II!. In the lay-out of buildings a constant improvement in the building systems is evident. This can be abserved nat anly in enlargements of plan .


but also in all the minor technical details: we begin with the narrow walls, rarely dressed in true fashion, of Period I and eventually reach the massive structure af the Burnt Building. Finds of particuIar interest that we are concerned to record are a branze pin, its head formed of two wavy bars (fig. 2), and an earthenware pot filled with camel dung (used for fuel) which was found embedded in the £1001'of room CLXVI (Period II) (fig. 1). This latter discovery is ane of the earliest proofs (about 2500 B.C.) of man's use of the camel, an animal which some scholars hold was tamed and trained only during the second half of the 2nd milIennium B.C. In the previous three campaigns, the Mission'3 main effort was concentrated towards the nartheast carner of the hi11where an extensive section (about 2,000 sq. m.) of the residential quarter ot Periods II and III was progressively brought to light. Activity in this area has been confined to a certain amount of exploration aimed at completing the work undertaken. A building square in plan with -aDE-W axis has been wholly excavated: it is divided up into a variety of roomsand has been given the name of the Small Well House. An interior stairway allows communication between two rooms at different levels, and an external one is attached to the north-east corner of the building. The latter stairway was added during the final .phase of building activity when a narrow rectangulal' area (CCXIIla) was filied up with a mixture of detritus. The salinificatian of the soiI and the stairway itself has 100 to the sealing up of this filling, and this has permitted the recovery of a good1yassortment of objects that wouId normally have decayed. The following have come to light: fragments of palm matting, several cords, baskets af intertwined fibre, wooden instrumentsand a V-shaped sling made out of a tamarisk branch. After various sondages a coherent urban layout is beginning to take shape. The town extended along the eastern, northern, and partly along the western, sides of a £1at table-like hilI, the remains of an ancient £1uvial terrace. aver the whole north-east section during Periods II and 111 (2500

- 2000

B.C.) dwellings divided


blocks sepal'ated by nal'row twisting paths cero tainly grew in density. A centre in the real sense has not been identified, but topographical evidence helps us to recognize a Dumber of goodsize buiIdings surrounding a couple of ovoid depressions in the centre of the hili. It is oul' hope that during future campaigns we shall be able to reconstruct most of the urban lay-out. More than 3,500 sq. m. of the surface area have so far been excavated and a large number of buildings brought to light. The excellent state

of preservation of some of them means that their restoration at the end of every campaign grows alI the more pressing. Most of the Mission's energy and resources have once again this year been devoted to this end. A long series o~ tests and ex;periments ha s, in particular, been extensively carried out on the entire Burnt Building: such tests are being continued in the laboratory of the National Museum of OrientaI Art in Rome; and we trust that in this we shall receive the cooperation of Institutes interested in this problem. Furthermore, work of strengthening and covering both plaster surfaces about 2 cm. thick and walls of sun-baked brick has been carried out, while more delicate structures like stairways and hearths, have been conveniently isolated. As part of the research programme undertaken, the Mission has begun to ex;plore other prehistoric settlements in Seistan. During the month o£ October, a fresh dig was begun at Tape Rud-i Biyaban 2, a tiny hill identified in 1968 (EW, XIX, 1969, p. 545) that is wholly covered over with the remnants and waste material of pottery manufacture associated with numerous kilns in use in the 4th millennium B.C., fifty of which were still recognizable on the surface of the hill itself. The area of the latter barely amounts to one hectare, and the trench (30 x lO m.) was dug in one of the most central sections of the Tape. Rere a real centre for the manufacture of pottery carne to light: the kilns extend side by side and the intervening spaces were filled by a large quantity of pottery that got deformed or split during firing. Numerous tools have been identified, alI o£ pottery and associated with the manufacture of vases: e.g. scrapers, polishers, supports and probable pyrometric gauges. The kilns are alI ofa «low-power» type and rectangular in plan: they are either divided into two parallel compartments separated by a pilaster or diaphragm (fig. 3), or in the case of the smaller models consist of ane single rectangular comparmento Very high temperatures af around 1,000° C. were produced inside,as the liquefaction and vitrifying of the walls prove. The natural terrain was reached at a depth of 4.90 m. In the stratigraphy three separate phases can be distinguished, all appertaining to Period III of the Shahr-i Sokhta sequence. The rate of manufacture must have been particularly high to produce such an extensive deposit in a relatively short period of time that at Shahr-i Sokhta is represented by a deposit no more than a metre thick and a single building phase. The existence of centres wholly given over to the manufacture of pattery is a fact of no small interest: it attests to the considerable concentration of artisan activity and resources, the outcome of

population increase and constant development of the system af urban production. . The problem of determining the absolute chronology of the various periods of the history of Seistan in the 3rd millennium has been tackled this year with the help of two new methods of such novelty as to be almost ex;perimental: palaeomagnetism and the counting of Uranium 238 fission traces. Both these have been applied thanks to the participation of a group of Japanese physicistsand geologists, headed by Prof. N. Kawai, from the Universities of Osaka and iKyoto, who stayed in Seistan from September 28 to October 12. More than 500 samples were collected from ovens, hearths and kilns at Shahr-i Sokhta, Tape Rud-i Biyaban 2 and Dahan-i Ghulaman. The material has been taken to Japan where it will be subjected to the tests which are required. During the 1970 campaign the work of th.:: Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan was confined to the Buddhist sanctuary of Tapa Sardar near Gazn1. Thc cxcavation was directed by Prof. M. Taddei with the following staff: Mr M. Valentini, assistant; Mr N. Labianca, draftsman; Mrs F. Bonardi, photographer; Mr E. Pagliani and Mr M. Eclisse, restorers; and Mr G. Verardi, a student who participated in the Mission's work by agreement with the Istituto Universitario Orientale, Naples. Our thanks are due to the Director of the Afghan Institute of Archaeology for allowing us to avail ourselves once more of the valuable assistance of Mr M. Tahir, a restorer from the Institute. The aim of the excavation has been to provide fuller knawledge of a wider surface area of the building complexappertaining to the final period, and thereby facilitate, in the future, an investigation of the oldest strata that, except in a very minor way, remain practically unprobed: Three work-centres were set up, one of them concentrating on Vihara 37 (fig. 6), to the left of Vihara 17 (EW, XVIII, 1968, pp. 116 f.), which has been quite freed from the debris resulting from the collapse of walls af sun-dried brick and has yielded up numerous fragments of sculpture in unbaked clay (fig. 7). These are in addition to groups already formed from finds in Viharas 17 and 23 (EW, XVIII, 1968, pp. 109 fI., passim; XIX, 1969, p. 545). During the next campaign the rear wall af Vihara 37 will have to be subjected to accurate restoration owing to the delicate nature of the images in the round that have been discovered in situo They consist of two nagas emerging from the water on either side of a large lotus flower an which a Buddha was once seated; but of the latter figure anly a tiny portion of thc 509

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Fig. 1 - Shahr-i Sokhra (Seisran). House of Period II, underlying rhe «Burnr Building ». In rhe middle room CLXVI wirh buried por and burnr Jung (phoro F. Bonardi).

Fig. 2 - Shahr-i Sokhra. Large room CLXIII (ID. Bronze pin wirh curled end (phoro F- Bonardi).





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Fig. 3 -- Tepe Rud-i Biyaban 2. Sourhern view of p::Jttery kiln 2, double-chambered, (phoro M. Tosi).


in plan




IsMEO New Series, VoI. 20 - No.4 Containing

(Oecember 1970)

an lndex to V olumes 1 to 20

Ismeo activities 1970  
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