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7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran


Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Research Institute has announced the discovery of 71 conical-shaped stelae during the course of the third season excavations at Tall Chegah-e Sofla, one of Kuzestan’s largest prehistoric sites from the late fifth-millennium BC, which are conducted as part of the Zohreh Prehistoric Project .

7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
Credit: ILNA

Abbas Moghaddam, head of the excavations, said the discovery of the stelae was made in the southwestern part of the sanctuary complex located to the west of the monumental step platform. The stelae were found deliberately stacked in two rows on top of each other on top of each other in a shallow rectangular pit, placed there as a gift to the "offering platform". 

7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
Credit: ILNA



The ones in the upper row are less damaged than those in the lower row, most of which are broken or fractured from to weight of deposits of the upper layers and the friable limestone from which they are made. The lower row of stelae was arranged in an east-west direction in the pit, with the heads pointing west and bottoms to the east. Traces of clay mortar were also found between the stelae.

7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
Credit: ILNA



In total, 73 intact and broken stelae of varying size were found. Of these, 46 are intact and 25 are broken and incomplete. All but two of the stelae were cone-shaped. The height of the tallest stelae is 81cm and the shortest is 32.5cm. Most of the stelae are carved with figures of humans, goats, oval and circular eyes or with simple motifs such as hatched lines or circles. Some of the stelae bear no carvings at all.

7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
7,000-year-old carved stelae discovered at Tall Chegah-e Sofla in southern Iran
Credit: ILNA

Preliminary studies indicate that the stelae were standing upright when they were first placed next to the stratified brick platform. Evidence of this is seen in the discolouration between the darker bases and the heads of the stelae.

The Zohreh Prehistoric Project

The Zohreh Prehistoric Project (ZPP), a long-term archaeological research programme focused on the river valley south of the modern city of Behbahan in Khuzestan Province, was launched in April 2015. The valley, which lies in close proximity to the northern coast of the Persian Gulf, was surveyed extensively during the early 1970s by Hans Nissen from the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. 

The project aims to develop full-coverage archaeological survey of the valley, focusing on the human landscape over time, mostly in relation to settlement hierarchy and dynamics, modes of production and the emergence of regional centres at the end of the fifth and beginning of the fourth millennia BC. 


TANN

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