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IsMEO ACTIVITIES CENTRO

STUDI

E

SCAVI

ARCHEOLOGICI

IN

by the urban quarters, formerly thought to be barren owing to the lack of evidence of occupation. Thus the necropolis of Shahr-i Sokhta proves to be the largest one of the 3rd millennium in Asia. Extensive digging was carried out in squares IRL, IRM, IRQ, IRR, IRV, IRW, IWC (fig. 3), while trenches of lO X lO m. were widened in thc areas IPV /IUB and LSI/LSD. More than 50 burials were found, of which 44 were completely excavated.

ASIA

The archaeological excavations of the Centro Studi e Scavi Archeologici in Asia of IsMEO, of which a brief survey is given below, were carried out thanks to the cooperation of and a grant from the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR).

The graves in the zone IR/IW had been dug out of a layer of compact lacustrine day, greenish in colour, whereas those in the zones IP /IU and LS had been dug out of a layer of alluvial gravei. A compact crust of salt, 15-30 cm. thick, covers both the day and the gravel in all the zones explored; above it is found a surface layer of loose sandy soiI. The great typological variety met with, as regards both the shape of the graves and the orientation and position of the human remains, constitutes one of the most interesting aspects of this burial ground. Besides the simple, very nearly rectangqlar, type of shaft there is an irregular ovaI typeand a more complex type of tomb in the form of asmall buriaI chamber. In this last case the tomb is mad~ of a vertical trench, varying in depth from 1 to 3 m., and a small chamber is dug out of one af the sides of this trench; the entrance to the recess would afterwards be dosed up to a certain height with a low wall of bricks. Except in one case (G.19) the vertical trench did not contain personal belongings, which were laid within the recess beside the corpse. This idea of the division of the grave seems to have been adhered toeven in some simple graves where the corpse and the personal belongings occupy only one half of the space available. In less frequent cases the burial was made in a real monumental structure built of unfired bricks (fig. 4). The skeletons are often in a crouching position (fig. 5), except in a few cases where they are laid at full length. Some graves were used for only one burial, others for two or three contemporaneous burials, while others again appear to have been reused at later dates.

Archaeological Mission in Iran During the course of August-December 1972 the I talian Archaeological Mission in Iran carried out its 5th campaign of excavations at Shahr-i Sokhta (Sistan) and surveys in the regions of Damghan, Jahrom (Fars) and Quchan (Khorassan). The excavations were directed by Dr Maurizio Tosi with the following staff: Mrs Francesca Bonardi Tucci, photographer; Dr Raffaele Biscione, Dr Grazia M. Bulgarelli, Dr Marcello Piperno, archaeologists; Mr Gabriele Graziani, assistant; Architect Enzo Labianca, topographer-draughtsmani Mr Guido Regoli, restorer. DI B. Campagnoni, palaeontologist, and Mr L. Co:tantini, palaeobotanist, took part for sp~cifĂŹc programm:s of research. The Iranian Archaeological Service, as always, offered its useful assistance, being represented during the campaign by Mr H. Azimzadeh, who lent his efficient collaboration whenever occasion arose. The results of the previous campaigns are described in EW, XVIII, 1968, pp. 9-66; XIX, 1969, pp. 283-386, 544 f.; XX, 1970, pp. 508 f.; XXI, 1971, pp. 422-24. The principal ,aims of this year's campaign were, first, the checking and more exact determination of the cultural sequence and, secondly, the systematic gathering of palaeobotanical and palaentological data. Shahr-i Sokhta: the Necropolis. At the beginning of the campaign a limited sounding of 3 X 3 m., carried out in the area IR - a zone presumed sterile of archaeological deposit in order to check the natural stratigraphy of the terracing upon which Shahr-i Sokhta was built, brought to light the presence of burials at a depth of about 70 cm. below the actual surface. Subsequent soundings made in squares NCW, IPV, IRC, LSI to ascertain the extent of the necropolis revealed that it is of about 40-45 hectares and occupies all that part of the terracing which is not covered

Among the tombs explored at least 15 contained skeletons of children between 1 and 8 years old (figs. 5, 6). The salt crust that sealed the necropolis permitted the preservation of materials which are usually perishabIe: fragments of doth, numerous baskets, mats and wooden objects. The furnishings, laid next to the dead person's head or alongside the thorax, allow us to attribute 375


the burials of area IR to the end of Period II of Shahr-i Sokhta, whereas the burials in area LS are evidently more archaic (beginning of Period II). Among the most important tombs we may record G.2, which is of the type with an almost circular graveand a low partition wall of bricks. The part reserved for the sepulture contained 18 vessels (bowls, jars and pear-shaped beakers), various necklace components of turquoise and lapis lazuli, and a complete necklace made up of turquoise beads with a very large centraI element of alabaster. Other beads of turquoise and lapis lazuli were found inside one beaker, whiIe more than 90 microblades were contained in another vessel; the entire skeleton of a sheep or a goat left as an offering was found in the part of the grave where there was no sepulture. Tomb G.10, which is of the simple-grave type, contained the skeleton of an individuaI, of tall stature with furnishings around the skull; a Nal jar had been placed as lid of a large jar; the other vessels in the tomb allow us to refer this burial to the end of Period IL In G.12 the buria.! is bounded by a rectangular brick structure, measuring 1.80 X 0.60 m. (fig. 4). This tomb, situated at a higher leve! than the others, has been partly disarranged by the fIow of surface waters, and the vessels found in it have been largely corroded by salto Of especial interest is the presence of bronze tools and microblades of flint in conjunction with unworked lumps of lapis lazuli, with others already carved and with finished necklace beads; these objects permit us to reconstruct the various stages in the working of this semiprecious stone and are exactly matched by the material found in a dwelling in areas EWK, EWP (,fig. lO). One of the most interesting tombs is G. 44. In the west side of a deep trench a spacious recess has been carved out, within which were found 4 ske!etons, the first huddled against the side and the others (2 adults and 1 chiId) lying at full length. The furnishings, made up of one jar and several 1'ots, one of which was polychrome, were set against the north walI.

saltand are referable to the period com1'rising Late II and IlI. Insquare X]A the accumulation of rubbish was absent and the thickness of the saline crust very much reduced. The buiIdings that carne to light in this section can be grouped in three phases and are coeval with those of square XEU. In the two squares have been found the remains of two separate buiIdings not yet completely brought to light. Subsequently work was resumed in the northern part of the excavation of 1968, in squares XDY, XDX, XIE, XID, XI], XII. Here, among the most important discoveries must be mentioned that of a granary, a room containing a jar of great size and the remains of at least three similar jars. Flotation of the earth contained in the jar and of part of the soil filling the room revealed a conspicuous quantity of seeds of sorghum (?). The west and north.west part of this new excavation 1'resents dear traces of a very violent fire that affected, in whole or in part, at least three different buildings. One of these, the "House of the Buttresses", has revealed definite evi. dence of this particular architectural technique. Two of the rooms have the internaI surface of the walls decorated with pilasters, which test 'llpon a dado about 30 cm. high from the fIoor. The northernmost room has piIasters on all four walls, while the larger, southernmost one is perfect only in its north and east walls. It is interesting to note that the situation of the "House of the Buttresses" is like that of the ''House of the Foundations": in both cases the walls of one phase were used as supporting elements for the foundations of a subsequent phase, and that more than once. In fact it has been possible to observe that the floors of the "House of the Buttresses" rest upon the roof. beams of ,an earlier house, the walls of which formed the base of the walls with the piIasters. This lower house ("House of the Burnt Plasters") presents a fairly well recognizable plan, and the walls have been carefully plastered. Some rooms of this house, which was also burnt, have been preserved completely, from the roof-beams to the fIoors, and in one of them has been found a large jar almost certainly intended to hold grain (fig. 8); access to this roam was given from a stairway with a wide centrallanding (fig. 9). The "House of the Buttresses" in its turn served as support for a buiIding that has now disappeared, whose foundations cut across the previous rooms, showing an entire change of plano At a still later stage the zone was abandoned ,and served as a rubbish dump. To recapitulate, four phases are observable:

Shahr-i Sokhta: the Inhabited Area. The extensive excavation of the urban area was enlarged towards the north in the squares XEU and X]A (fig. 7). In the southern part of square XEU the 'soiI was found to be very rich in organic substances, being composed of the accumulated rubbish of the city. Beneath this accumulative soiI, which varies in thickness between 20 and 50 cm., was found a layer of saline concretion, thicker on the southern side and gradually thinning untiI it disappears as one gaes towards the north. The buildings were found under this layer of 376


"House of the Burnt Plasters"; "House of the Buttresses"; foundations of a later building; and fìna11y abandonment layer with garbage dump. The pottery contained in the garbage dump has alIowed us to identify exactly Period III as recognized almost exclusively from the materials gathered at Tap~ Rud-i Biyaban 2. Period III also appears in Room XX, the excavation of which, though limited to a sma11 surface area, has displayed the complete sequence from this Period back to virgin soiI. I t has thus been possible to re-examine the sequence and identify the transition from Period I to II with the help of pottery that presents motifs characteristic of both phases.

salt and grave l averaging 40 cm. in thickness. In each row the unfired bricks are arranged in a different pattern. From what it has been possible to see, para11e1 bands, macle up of 4 or 5 adjacent rows of bricks, are joined along the short side and contain series of bricks set at right angles. On what has been preserved of thc level and among the bricks very few .fragments of pottery have been found, too sma11 and few to determine the period of Shahr-i Sokhta to which the artefact should be assigned. Just outside the construction, to its south, there carne to light an alm05t intact ceramic bowl with painted decoration belonging to Period II!. Again on the outside, but to the north, leve1 with the first row of bricks forming the foundation of the platform, we found a probable tomb-f.urnishing, with painted pottery of Period III and Rottery transitional between Periods III and IV. The digging was extended to squares BQU, BVA, BVF, bringing to light some wa11sin unbaked brick that were part of a large building. Owing to the limited time it was n9t possible to ascertain whether the £lat structure is connected with the adjacent structures or was something that stood by itself.

Another dig was opened on the northern edge of the tapa, where clues gathered from the surface had led to the location of a zone very rich in lapis lazuli chippings. In this area (squares EWP and EWK) there carne to light the remains of a large building, evidently connected with the working of lapis lazuli (fig. 10). The structures located in this zone may be attributed to the last part of Period II and the latest ones - large - date from IPeriod II!. Very profoundations

bably the greatest expansion of the town coincided with the period represented in this area, where the archaeological sequence was extremely limited, overlying, as it does, a grave11y virgin soiI. In view of the particular purpose of the excavation alI the soiI was subjected to flotation and yielded a rich harvest of data of every kind. As regards the working of lapis lazuli, thousands of fragments have been found in various stages of working, associated with a microlithic industry hitherto unknown at Shahr-i Sokhta. These materials, together with those coming from various tombs, wilI enable us to rcconstruct the process of working lapis lazuli and other semi-precious stones.

Shahr-i Sokhta: Palaeobotanical Research. Flotation was systematica11y carried out in tbe various sections of the excavations, and as a result it became possible to gather a great quantity of organic material, such as insects, egg-she11s, seeds, and the remains of fishes, birds and mice. As regards tbe necropolis, flotatioll was carried out of the contents of the vessels of certain graves; in addition, the earth was taken out of every vesse1 and the flotation \Vill continu~ in the laboratories of the Botanical Institute of Rome ul1d~r the leadership of Pro£. M. Follieri. Som:: of the vessels whose contents \Vere subjected to this process during the digging containecl great numbers of larvae, the identification of which is at present in progresso In the extensive excavation of the urban nucleus a sample of soil \Vas taken from every trench dug and every room uncovered. In this case too, the remains were found of insects, birds, fishes, egg-she11s and sma11 mammals. The abundance of egg-shell fragments is such as to lead one to think of the raising or the semi-domestication of poultry, which, together with fish and birds, must have formed a great part of the fo03 of the inhabita.nts of Shahr-i Sokhta. Besides this, the identification of the seeds (among which should be mentioned the seeds of Vitis vini/era 1.) and of the plant remains wi1l permit a secure reconstruction of the flora of

In the south-wcst zone of Shahr-i Sokhta, nearly at the edge of the tapa itself, a trial dig was made in squares BQV and BVB in order to bring to light a brick structure that could be seen indistinctly on the surface. In fact, a few centimetres below the level of the surrounding area, a flat rectangular structure, measuring c. 7 X 14 111.,was uncovered with great care. It was buiIt of unfired bricks (45 X 22 X 10 cm.) in rows set one above the other, which have been preserved in thecentral area up to a height of three rows but reduced to one row in the peripheral zones. The bricks were bound together with a cement of clay. The platform was built upon a very solid and campact soiI, composed of an amalgam of sand, 377


burins, and a high percentage of backed tools, borers, and tiny drills. The production of these last, which were very numerous and morphologically homogeneous, was standardized; their function seems linked specifically 1'0 the piercing of beads, as is indicated by the association of drills with high concentrations of lapis lazuli flakes al' Hissar and thefinding al' Shahr-i Sokhta of identical tools in area EWK/ EWP, which must have been a centre for the working of semi-precious stones. The comprehensive study of this industry will enable us 1'0 include Tape Hissar in our research programme on basic technologies of eastern Iran between the 4th and the 2nd millennium B.C. Through the study of the industriaI products found al' Shahr-i Sokhtaand Tepe Yahya those researches have already demonstrated the important rale still held by the ston;o;worker's craft in this periodo

Sistan in the 3rd millennium, which at first examination does not seem to differ much from the flora of today. Shahr-i Sokhta: Consolidation and Conservation W ork. During the season of excavat:on, work continued to consolidate and conserve the "Burnt Palace", the "House of the Foundations" and the '''House of the Stairs". The walls were covered with matting and kahgel, and a penthouse of bricks was erected above the Room CXXVII with Furnaces in the "Burnt Building". A covering of Iranit slabs was placed as a temporary protection over Room LXIX, where the roof-beams were still preserved. Other Sites. The part of tbe researcb programme dedicated to the exploration of otber prehistoric settlements in Sistan, which in 1970 was concerned with Tape Rud-i Biyaban 2 (EĂŹV, XX, 1970, p. 509), was this year necessari1y mucb restricted on account of the discovery of tbe necropolis. During tbe montb of September surveying and grid-mapping was carried out al' Tape Graziani, a small tapa identified in 1970 that seems 1'0 bave beena centre for tbe working of alabaster vessels and bard stones. A systematic collection was then made of the artefacts lying on the surface and, by means of a system of coordinates pin-pointing eacb separate find, a distribution chart was prepared with tbe object of determining, on tbe basis of particular concentrations and taking account of tbe morphology of tbe ground, tbe zone thal' would presumably be tbe most interesting for future researcbes.

At the beginning of September 1972 a brief survey was made in the regions of Shiraz and Jahrom with the object of ascertaining the presence of palaeolithic settlements in the two areas. In the neighbourhood of Shiraz a visit was made to the zone that extends along the eastern shore of Lake Maharlu, already studied for the first time by Browne (FIELD, 1939, pp. 554-56). An extensive system of caves and nooks, giving on the rocky cliffs that surround the lake and rise 1'0 a height ofabout 30-40 m. above the present level, makes it extremely probable that the zone was plentifuIry ihfia13ited' in the Pleistocene. Besides several nooks and caves, some of which contain scanty residues of deposit with industries attributable 1'0 the Middle and Upper Palaeolithic, visits were made 1'0 the two nooks already discovered by Field, where a rich harvest of surface industry was gathered, attributable 1'0 an advanced phase of the Upper Palaeolithic. EspecialIy in the larger of these two nooks it was possible in less than an hour 1'0 gather hundreds of tools, including disc and bIade scrapers, backed blades, inverted-retoucbed small blades; alI these were taken from tbe surface of a massive filI which is probably 6-7 m. in depth. Further researches are planned for next year with tbe object of ascertaining the real composition of the deposito In the region of Jahrom a visit was made 1'0 a site where in 1969 Dr W. O. Sumner found an abundant lithic industry, which from a preliminary examination (PIPERNO, EW, XXII, 1972, pp. 183 fI.) it seems possible 1'0 refer 1'0 a facies of the Middle Palaeolithic. An abundant barvest of tools gathered this year seems 1'0 confirm,

During the last week of August a reconnaissance was made at Tape Hissar (Damghan) witb tbe object of systematically collecting remains of the stone-working industry still lying on tbe surface of tbe tapa. Witb Schmidt's grid-map restored to use, a careful exploration was carried out of the area named "Painted Pottery Flat", whicb bad been little disturbed by tbe previous diggings, and of tbe southern slope of tbe "Main Mound", amounting 1'0 3,000 sq. m. in alI. Of tbe stone artefacts collected (c. 15,000) about 30-40% is represented by tools; among these tbe scarcity of some of the most typical, sucb ,as denticulated sickle-blades and chipped arrow-heads (SCHMIDT, 1933; 1937), and tbe microlithismevident in more than 50% of them demonstrate the limits of this collection. A first examination revealed, besides tools without any typological particularity, the presence of geometric artefacts (triangles and crescents) and of cran blades, a remarkable quantity of 378


in the main, the first interpretation on this deposito In the environs of Jahrom numerous caves were visited, some of which produced materials similar to those of the Jahrom complex, even if very scanty, while in others were found numerous £lint tools (especially blades) probably to be referred to the Neolithic.

following colleagues: Prof. Antonino Forte, historlan of Far Eastern religions; Dr Giovanni Verardi, archaeologist; Mr Manlio Valentini, assistant for the excavations and for the restoration of monuments; Mr Nicola Labianca, draughtsman; Mrs Francesca Tucci Bonardi, photographer; Mr Enzo Paglianiand Mr Maggiorino Eclisse, restorers. The Afghan Institute of Archaeology provided as assistants Mr M. Ehsan Aram and Mr HabibulIah, who followed the work of the Mission throughout the campaign; the Supervisor of the Mission, Mr Ghulam Naqshband, of Ghazni, was of great help in the organization of the work and in its execution.

The whole region, in view of the great number of caves and shelters to be found in the immediate neighbourhood of the town of Jahrom, would seem to calI for further researches. In the month of September, immediately before the beginning of the work at Shahr-i Sokhta, within the framework of the research on the extension of South-Turkmenian influence in eastern Iran, a brief survey was carried out in the upper valIey of the Atrak, in the area between Quchan and Shirvan, which is stilI unknown territory from the archaeological point of view. At that point the valley is wide and fertile, with a good number of fluvial "fans" at the foot of the mountains; this ecologicalIy favoùrable situation is mirrored by the plentiful number of tapas, grouped mainly on the southern side of the valIey. The most -ancient settlement is Tapa Jaffarabad II (near the vilIage of the same name), on which was found pottery of theper;ods Cheshm-i Ali land Namazga 1. Ten tapas of the historical period were also identified, presumably of Partho-Sasanian date. The lack of reliable data on the pottery of these periods from Khorassan does not alIow one to be more precise. Among thes~ should be mentioned Tapa Yam, situated on the outskirts of the village of the same name: a site of large dimensions, in the shape of a truncated cone, with the remains of a tower on the eastern edge. Probably it is a fortified settlement. In addition, 8 rather small tapas were identified, belonging to Islamic periods. They have been mostly destroyed or thrown into utter disorder by illicite excavations and farming.

Excavation was carried out mainly in two zones: the northern side of the hilI and the zone around Stupa 64, that is, on the western slope, be!ow the £ront of the Great Stupa. Tapa Sardar: Northern Zone 01 the Upper Terrace. The removal of rubble from the surface and the excavation of some sections of this zone were begun in 1970 (EW, XX, p. 510, figs. 4, 5) and continued in 1971 (EW, XXI, p. 421, fig. 1). After the last campaign it may be said that the excavation of remains from the latest period of construction has been completed. Along the northern side (fig. 1), proceeding from west to east, we have the folIowing sequence of enclosed spaces: Chapel 50, Corridor 60, Chapel 63 (with Passages 73 and 58), Corridar 57. Chape! 50 contained a colossal seated image of the Buddha, of which -a part of the feet remains, upon a pedestal with an internaI structure of stones and c1ay; the chapel was without other plastic decoration. The destruction of the image must have taken pIace in fair1y recent times; in fact, besides the feet, no other fragment of it has been found -among the debris except a small one of the head with some hair. The roof of this chamber was certainly vaulted, as is shown by the almost total abscence of traces of burning or of wood in any form: indeed the only trace of burning connected with the last phase of construction stands out against the south walI, i.e. on the side of the Great Stupa, and is certainly due to the fall, within the chamber, of flaming material from the pentice that skirted the pradak~i1;1apatha. Chapel 63 is oblong in plan and extends in a direction parallel to the pradak~i1;1apatha;its shape is determined by the particular purpose of the chamber, name!y to contain a representation of the Buddha's parinirviitia. Of this image (figs. 11, 12) which was "built" with a core of unbaked bricks and rubble of bricks of the same kind {no baked

Archaeological Mission in AIghanistan The work of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Afghanistan M Tapa Sardàr (Ghazni), initiated in 1959 and continued regularly every year since 1967 (M. TADDEI,«Tapa Sardàr. First Preliminary Report », EW, XVIII, 1968, pp. 10924; see also mì7, XVIII, 1968, p. 444; XIX, 1969, pp. 545 f.; XX, 1970, pp. 509 f.; XXI, 1971, pp. 421 f.), was resumed in the period SeptemberNovember 1972. The excavations were directed by Prof. Maurizio Taddei, who enjoyed the callaboration of the 379


FIg. 3 - Shahr-i Sokhta. Generai view of excavated squares in area of graveyard (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9921/15a

- Photo M. Piperno).

Fig. 4 - Shahr-i Sokhta. Grave 12 with mud-brick structure (Photo M. Piperno).


Fig. 5 - Shahr-i Sokhta.

Grave 21 with buried chi'd (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9922/24 . Photo M. Piperno).

Fig. 6 . Shahr-i Sokhta.

Grave

201 with double deposition of an adult and a child (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9965/1 - Photo G. Graziani).


Fig. 7 - Shahr-i Sokhta.

GeneraI view ÂŁrom north of exoavations in the northeastern (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9905/35 - Photo R. Biscione).

residential

Fig. 8 - Shahr-i Sokhta.

Room LVII with intact jar in NE corner (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9910/25 R. Siscione).

area

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Fig. 9 - Shahr-i Sokhta. Landing and steps to room LVII (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9910/29 - Photo R. Biscione).

Fig. 10 - Shahr-i Sokhta. Excavations of houses in squares EWK/EWP as seen from west (Neg. no. Dep. CS. 9895/12 - Photo G. Gra.ziani).


EAST

AND

WEST

IsMEO New Series, VoI. 22 - Nos. 3 - 4 (Septemoer - December 1972)


Ismeo activities 1972