President of the Iranology Foundation Visiting the Archeological Site of the Seven-Thousand-Year Skeleton

On 9 May 2015, Professor Ayatullah Seyyed Mohammed Khamenei, President of the Iranology Foundation visited the archeological site where the seven-thousand-year skeleton was discovered in Molavi Street in Tehran. During this visit, he received a detailed report of the studies and analyses performed on this find.

Dr. Mohammad Esma’il Esma’ili Jelodar, head of the excavation team, said that this skeleton was discovered as a result of the curiosity and careful attention of a student of archeology during the digging activities of the Tehran Province Water & Wastewater Company. After learning about the existence of some remains of architectural works and pottery belonging to the Ghajar era, this student informed the archeological Research Institute. Upon receiving the permission for emergency excavation, the operations of Tehran Province Water and Waste Water Company were stopped for conducting archeological studies. After a meticulous supervision of the operation and a thorough process of investigation, the following archeological information was obtained:

In the upper layers of the burial place of the skeleton, some cultural objects including pottery, glass, cobblestone, and dirt road related to the Islamic periods (the last years of the Timurid era, the Safavid period, and the Ghajar period). Because of the water and waste water pipes laid in this area about 40 or 50 years ago, the cultural artifacts of the Islamic period were found in scattered places. The burial place was in a lower layer. The preliminary chronological studies demonstrated that it dated back to the fifth millennium BC, i.e. about 7,000 years ago. Moreover, under the skeleton’s burial layer, an area of intact soil and the corridor of a subterranean canal, which had been dug during the Islamic period, were discovered. The preliminary anthropological studies of this skeleton indicate that it belonged to a woman between 22 and 40 years of age. Presently, some genetic studies are performed on the skeleton.

Dr. Hamideh Choubak, President of the archeological Research Institute, affiliated with the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization, stated that all regions in Iran have been inhabited by people since long ago and have housed a rich treasure of cultural artifacts, which is rarely seen in other countries in the world. Experts estimate that the history of human residence in today’s Tehran goes back to 7000 years ago or even before that. She continued that the existence of a heating equipment beside this skeleton indicates that the tradition of keeping a fire burning next to a corpse has existed since that time. This tradition has continued since 7,000 years ago until now, which testifies to the fact that there is a profound and historical wisdom behind it.

Through referring to the skeleton’s discovery site, which is close to ancient Rey, the largest culture and civilization center of earlier periods and one of the great centers of Shi’ism, Dr. Choubak emphasized that the mass construction of buildings and other architectural structures during the last decades has resulted in the destruction of the physical and even spiritual layers of this ancient and historical region. She also added that unless the organizations involved in urban planning, such as Tehran Municipality and Tehran Urban and Suburban Railway Organization (Metro), cooperate with archeological excavations before construction and digging activities, we will witness the tragedy of the complete destruction of this great culture and civilization center. After announcing the signing of an agreement with these two organizations, she asked for more cooperation on the part of all the organizations and centers involved in urban planning.

According to Mosaddeqi, an archeologist researcher, before discovering this skeleton, the remains of the oldest human skeleton in Tehran were found in the hills of Qeytariyeh dating back to 3000 years ago. The burial style, the direction of the skeleton in the grave, and the engraved red pottery above its head indicate the observance of the cultural norms of the ancient region of Cheshmeh Ali in Shahr-e Rey, which is seven kilometers far from the discovery site of the skeleton. This adds 4000 years to the previous 3000 years and extends the history of human residence in Tehran to 7,000 years ago.

Given the estimated 7,000-year history of the found skeleton, Professor Ayatullah Khamenei stated that it must have belonged to the pre-Aryan and Elamite periods. The burial direction – the skeleton faces the East (the sun) – demands more investigation and research on the ideas and beliefs of these periods. One of the suggestions of the President of the Iranology Foundation was the holding of joint meetings with the presence of authorities in the field of archeology, mythology, religious studies, ancient history, anthropology, etc. in order to learn about and introduce the history, beliefs, religions, and ethnic groups of ancient periods. The Iranology Foundation, as the custodian of the studies on Iran and the organization responsible for introducing this country to world, can present the outcomes and achievements of such meetings or conferences to all interested parties.

While attending the site of investigating and studying the cultural artifacts found in the archeological site of the skeleton (known as Aqa’s Grave), Professor Ayatullah Seyyed Mohammed Khamenei saw the discovered items from close and received some explanations with regard to each of them. Moreover, through inquiring about the various arts employed in decorating the Complex of Aqa’s Grave, including the mirror decoration of its porch tomb, he made some suggestions for protecting this Complex against natural and human threats to its proctors. Finally, he recommended some organizations and companies such as Tehran Province Water and Waste water Company to consider it a necessary duty to cooperate with archeologists in order to further develop the cultural knowledge of society.