Excavation at Valam Historical Site Led to the Discovery of Remains Belonging to Magnificent Parthian Burial Gifts
According to the Office of International and Scientific Cooperation of University of Mazandaran, quoting the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage & Tourism (RICHT), excavation at Valam historical site at Gelvard Dam in Behshahr led to the discovery of remains belonging to approximately 25 graves and magnificent Parthian burial gifts, including funeral remains and burial gifts which supposedly belonged to a 25 to 30-year-old lady.
Dr. R. Abbasnejad Seresti, faculty member at UMZ and head of the excavation team at Valam Cemetery, explained:
In November 2020, this archaeological site was identified near the Valam village and within the construction site of Gelvard Dam by Mazandaran Regional Water Company. Preliminary studies have shown that this site belonged to both the late Iron Age (800 to 550 BC) and the Parthian period (250 BC to 225 AD). After stopping the road construction project, Research Institute of Cultural Heritage & Tourism started the excavation project.
Professor Abbasnejad Seresti pointed out that this excavation is based on a memorandum of cooperation between UMZ and RICHT, in cooperation with the Administration of Cultural Heritage Office of Mazandaran and Mazandaran Regional Water Company:
So far, during the archeological excavations carried out within this Archaeological site, evidence of various periods, including pottery and stone tools from the Chalcolithic, Bronz and Iron Ages have been found, amongst which, Cheshmeh Ali pottery is significant and shows the cultural ties of this region to the southern parts of Alborz mountains within the Iranian central plateau, dateing back to at least fifth millennium BC.
Dr. Abbasnejad Seresti further referred to the discovery of Iron Age burial grounds, prominently belonging to Iron III and IV periods, and Parthian crypt tombs. He noted:
The Parthian burials have a crypt structure, often having a rectangular space with the function of a corridor that ends at the entrance of the crypt which has been sealed with rocks. The location of the body at the interior of these tombs is circular and consists of two parts, including a burial platform and a gift pit. In side the Parthian tombs, several burial gifts are placed next to the deceased which can include pottery (in various shapes, sizes, and colors), beads of azure, agate, glass paste, and stone paste, bronze, iron, and silver ornaments such as bracelets, pendants, earrings, seal rings and plaques, decorative and engraved bone plates and remnants of weaponry.
He also added that, at the end of this archeological project we will have recovered a magnificent collection of Parthian period burial gifts, which are unique and of great importance after the discoveries of the Westemin archaeological site in Kiasar, Sari. One of the more interesting tombs discovered in this site includes the remains of a 25 to 30-year-old lady with 45 burial gifts placed next to her.
Professor Abbasnezhad also noted that anthropological research has begun in line with other archaeological studies in the Valam archaeological site and so far about 25 graves and complete and incomplete skeletons have been excavated.
The number of human skeletal finds are considerable and they are well preserved. The moisture and clay nature of the region are such that the project will provide a favorable environment for physiological and anthropological research in the northern region of Iran. Large-scale laboratory studies on small samples can be performed on these skeletal remains, and we are also preparing one of the significant bone collections in the north of the country for national and international studies. The bones obtained from the calcareous soil texture of the area, which, unlike the samples in the clay, are well preserved, can provide many samples for ancient genetic studies, isotope analysis, paleontology, and extensive studies on dental remains. We currently have a collection of remains from about 25 burials, at least 10 of which have the capacity for all of these studies. The remains consist of burials belonging to women, men, and children between the ages of less than one year and in some cases more than 55 years.
Lastly, he stated that it is predicted that the continuation of the excavation in Valam Cemetery, during this season as well as in the coming seasons, will yield a much richer collection and this ancient cemetery and its discoveries will become an internationally recognized archeological site. The Valam excavation project will continue until the end of July 2021.