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Zoroastrian ossuaries discovered in southeastern Iran


Following the discovery of a “dakhmeh” (also called tower of silence) in Torkabad City, Yazd Province, six ossuary rooms have revealed traces of ancient burial rituals in ancient Persia.

Zoroastrian ossuaries discovered in southeastern Iran
Zoroastrian ossuaries discovered in the Tower of Silence in Torkabad, Yazd, during 
the first season of archaeological excavations [Credit: IRNA]
The discoveries were made in the first phase of excavation conducted by archaeologists, osteologists, land surveyors, photographers and restorers in early May, ILNA quoted Mehdi Rahbar, the head of excavation team, as saying.

An ossuary is a chest, box, building, well, or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. They are frequently used where burial space is scarce. A body is first placed in the dakhmeh and after carrion birds fed on them, the skeletal remains were placed in an ossuary.

The greatly reduced space taken up by an ossuary makes it possible to store the remains of more dead people in a single tomb. The ossuaries are arranged in a circular structure, called tower of silence, which in olden times, was built for excarnation-that is for dead bodies to be exposed to carrion birds.

“The research was aimed at solving the mystery behind Zoroastrian burial rituals,” Rahbar said. 

During the excavations, 12 big ossuaries revealed two or three layers of bones, placed and covered with soft soil.

“The bones includes skulls, femurs and hand bones,” he said.

According to data released by the excavation team, the structure is a 34-meter diagonal circle, with stratum walls that open through a door-like opening in the eastern side. There are 30 rooms around the circle, of which only six have been investigated in the excavations.

The studies showed that the bones date back to Ilkhanid Dynasty (13th century).

Source: Financial Tribune [July 31, 2017]
TANN

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