IRAN

5,000 YEARS OF HISTORY

Aratta

From a Sumerian story, written about 2,700 BC preserved on baked clay tablets:

Let the people of¬†Aratta¬†bring down for me the mountain stones from their mountain, build the great shrine for me, erect the great abode for me, make the great abode, the abode of the gods, famous for me…

The story tells of a remote civilisation, beyond Susa and Anshan to the east, rich in gold and precious stones (especially lapis lazuli). No one knew where it was, though, or even if it existed at all.

Jiroft

But in 2001 in the Jiroft region of Kerman province, eastern Iran, a hundred or more people were arrested for selling illegally excavated ancient material from a site recently exposed by flooding. When archaeologists began to study what the police had confiscated, they began to wonder where it had all come from. Soon there was speculation that it was from an unknown civilisation - possibly even the mythical Aratta. Excavation revealed a large site - and more objects: including tablets with writing - very exciting from this early period. The date would be from around 3,500 BC. It's been suggested that Jiroft was part of the Proto-Elamite civilisation - but there is no evidence to support this.

Clay tablet with undeciphered script

Clay tablet from Jiroft with undeciphered writing - different from the Sialk writing.

Here's a selection of "Jiroft" objects:

Eagle   Parrot

Parrot from Jiroft

 
Bambi

Bambi from Jiroft

 
Palace  
Lapis lazuli

A polished block of lapis lazuli

NEXT: FASCINATING FINDS FROM THE BURNT CITY