An oil drilling project off the river Karun in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, accidentally unearthed an ancient cemetery that contains urn-like tombs, the Tehran Times has reported.
Hossein Feizi, an Iranian archaeologist, informed ILNA that the cemetery, located roughly 150 meters from the river, has provided researchers with ancient human bones and beige-colored urn tombs covered with natural tar.
The urn tombs, which face the river, suggest that the burials were made based on Mithraism principles.
Mithraism was a monotheistic mystery religion that was prevalent in the Roman Empire before Christianity was accepted in the fourth century.
It was a branch of Zoroastrianism that involved the worship of Mithra as the protector of truth.
According to initial findings, the cemetery dates back to the Parthian Empire (247 BCE – 224 CE), which once stretched from central-eastern Turkey to eastern Iran, crossing the Euphrates.
“The newly discovered urn tombs can be compared to those previously unearthed in Bushehr province’s Shoghab (cemetery),” Feizi said.
Shoghab cemetery, located on the outskirts of Bushehr, covers five hectares of land and is next to other spectacular sites from the Elamite (3200 – 539 BCE) and Sassanid (224 CE-651) eras. Previous digs found three types of burials, including rectangular tombstones, stone rectangle pit graves, and (giant) urn pits.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Feizi mentioned that many researchers believe the southern parts of Khuzestan, particularly Ahvaz and its surrounds, were previously permanent towns dating back to the Sassanid era.
“The finding of this new cemetery in Ahvaz strongly suggests human habitation in the late Parthian period,” stated the archaeologist.
Because the latest finds were uncovered during an oil drilling project, cultural heritage activist Mojtaba Gahestuni is concerned that the site may not be protected.
Last year, archaeologists discovered a remarkable Parthian-era (247 BCE-224 CE) tombstone in an old cemetery in northcentral Iran.The find was significant since it produced the first-ever engraved gravestone from the Parthian era.
In ancient Iran, the Parthian Empire, also known as the Arsacid Empire, was a great Iranian political and cultural power. The art, architecture, religious beliefs, and regal insignia of their culturally diverse kingdom, which included Persian, Hellenistic, and regional cultures, were substantially adopted by the Parthians. The Parthian Empire spanned from the northern reaches of the Euphrates in what is now central-eastern Turkey to eastern Iran.
Parthian prosperity derived from successful trading networks resulted in significant support of the arts, particularly relief sculpture, statuary (big and small scale), architectural sculpture, metalwork, jewelry, and pottery; coins depicting Parthian emperors are another prominent category of items.
Iran, as a cradle of civilisation, is rich in history and culture, and it never disappoints cultural visitors of all tastes, including those interested in cemetery tourism.
Contrary to common opinion, during trips to centuries-old tombs or cemeteries, you will be the protagonist of a passionate debate between past and present, rather than listening to an exhibition curator!