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Mortuary practice in ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian period (mid sixth c. BC to mid seventh c. AD)

(2013) 2.
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Abstract
This study provides a picture of burial rituals in ancient Iran during four very important historical periods: Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian. In the past two centuries of archaeological activities in Iran, there have been many developments in reconstructing these historical periods. In this regard, the architectural remains have always been in the centre of the attention, whereas burial remains have been largely neglected. Many historical burial sites and cemeteries were already excavated and documented, but little was known about burial rituals of each period and their significance. In other words, mortuary remains were never individually studied as a socio-cultural phenomenon and its potential in providing a clearer picture of the past is largely underestimated. This study aims to regard mortuary evidence as a valuable source to reconstruct the socio-cultural, economic and political aspects of the Persian civilization. It provides a collection of all types of burials during the four periods under consideration and presents a detailed analysis of each burial type. The significance of the study lies in the new perspective that it offers for the better understanding of the socio-cultural evolution in each period. The results clearly indicate that intellectual behaviour of the Iranian peoples, beside religious beliefs, were largely influenced by political fluctuations. This intellectual evolution occurred after the downfall of the Achaemenids particularly in south and south-western territories of Persia (south and south-east Mesopotamia and south and south-west Iran), when variety of ground burial types like plain earth graves, coffin and jar burials appeared in abundance. As an exception, however, the heartland of Persia, Persis or modern Fars, was likely not much affected by these evolutions since ground burials in Fars were almost lacking for the entire Seleuco-Parthian period. Seemingly, despite all political ups and downs the local Persians remained faithful to their own religion(s) and continued the tradition of open body exposure, which they had adopted earlier during the Achaemenid times, until the Sasanian period when it reached to its extreme and turned to be a mandatory burial ritual. The results of this study demonstrate Persis or modern Fars as the origin of this ritual, though it always remained a local ritual which hardly spread into other regions. The last thing to explain is that the geographical expansion of this thesis is mainly limited to the homeland of Iran inside the modern borders, but political borders were not considered in this study as it is sometimes beyond them.
Keywords
chronology, socio-cultural, typology, underground, Persians, Iran, burial practice, Achaemenid, post-Achaemenid, Parthian, Sasanian, Seleucid, culture, religion, Zoroastrian, open body exposure, Zoroastrianism, ritual, bone, ossuary, grave, tomb, above ground, mortuary gifts, political.

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Farjamirad, Mahdokht. “Mortuary Practice in Ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian Period (mid Sixth C. BC to Mid Seventh C. AD).” 2013 : n. pag. Print.
APA
Farjamirad, Mahdokht. (2013). Mortuary practice in ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian period (mid sixth c. BC to mid seventh c. AD). Department of Archaeology, Ghent, Belgium.
Chicago author-date
Farjamirad, Mahdokht. 2013. “Mortuary Practice in Ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian Period (mid Sixth C. BC to Mid Seventh C. AD)”. Ghent, Belgium: Department of Archaeology.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Farjamirad, Mahdokht. 2013. “Mortuary Practice in Ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian Period (mid Sixth C. BC to Mid Seventh C. AD)”. Ghent, Belgium: Department of Archaeology.
Vancouver
1.
Farjamirad M. Mortuary practice in ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian period (mid sixth c. BC to mid seventh c. AD). [Ghent, Belgium]: Department of Archaeology; 2013.
IEEE
[1]
M. Farjamirad, “Mortuary practice in ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian period (mid sixth c. BC to mid seventh c. AD),” Department of Archaeology, Ghent, Belgium, 2013.
@phdthesis{4243024,
  abstract     = {This study provides a picture of burial rituals in ancient Iran during four very important historical periods: Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian and Sasanian. In the past two centuries of archaeological activities in Iran, there have been many developments in reconstructing these historical periods. In this regard, the architectural remains have always been in the centre of the attention, whereas burial remains have been largely neglected. Many historical burial sites and cemeteries were already excavated and documented, but little was known about burial rituals of each period and their significance. In other words, mortuary remains were never individually studied as a socio-cultural phenomenon and its potential in providing a clearer picture of the past is largely underestimated. This study aims to regard mortuary evidence as a valuable source to reconstruct the socio-cultural, economic and political aspects of the Persian civilization. It provides a collection of all types of burials during the four periods under consideration and presents a detailed analysis of each burial type. The significance of the study lies in the new perspective that it offers for the better understanding of the socio-cultural evolution in each period. The results clearly indicate that intellectual behaviour of the Iranian peoples, beside religious beliefs, were largely influenced by political fluctuations. This intellectual evolution occurred after the downfall of the Achaemenids particularly in south and south-western territories of Persia (south and south-east Mesopotamia and south and south-west Iran), when variety of ground burial types like plain earth graves, coffin and jar burials appeared in abundance. As an exception, however, the heartland of Persia, Persis or modern Fars, was likely not much affected by these evolutions since ground burials in Fars were almost lacking for the entire Seleuco-Parthian period. Seemingly, despite all political ups and downs the local Persians remained faithful to their own religion(s) and continued the tradition of open body exposure, which they had adopted earlier during the Achaemenid times, until the Sasanian period when it reached to its extreme and turned to be a mandatory burial ritual. The results of this study demonstrate Persis or modern Fars as the origin of this ritual, though it always remained a local ritual which hardly spread into other regions. The last thing to explain is that the geographical expansion of this thesis is mainly limited to the homeland of Iran inside the modern borders, but political borders were not considered in this study as it is sometimes beyond them.},
  author       = {Farjamirad, Mahdokht},
  isbn         = {9789461972484},
  keywords     = {chronology,socio-cultural,typology,underground,Persians,Iran,burial practice,Achaemenid,post-Achaemenid,Parthian,Sasanian,Seleucid,culture,religion,Zoroastrian,open body exposure,Zoroastrianism,ritual,bone,ossuary,grave,tomb,above ground,mortuary gifts,political.},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {716},
  publisher    = {Department of Archaeology},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {Mortuary practice in ancient Iran from the Achaemenid to the Sasanian period (mid sixth c. BC to mid seventh c. AD)},
  volume       = {2},
  year         = {2013},
}