Saturday, January 26, 2008

Iraqi Archaeologists Excavate New Sites and Find ‘Rare’ Parthian Artefacts

From CAIS, January 25, 2008:

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Iraqi archaeologists have resumed excavations in southern Iraq uncovering three important ancient sites and collecting magnificent items.

The museum’s information officer, Abdulzahara al-Talaqani, said said Iraqi diggers have come across “a very important” Parthian site which has so far yielded “200 rare pieces”.

The head of the excavation team of the Parthian site, Mohammed Abbas, said: “Most of the finds are unique. We have a silver statue of a woman, another silver piece representing a cobra, household utensils, legendary animals, incised pots and various other magnificent items.”

A post-Sasanian site has also yielded 119 pieces. Saleh Yousef who led the excavation there said the artifacts represented inscribed pots, glassware and beautiful beakers.

The territories that today is known as Iraq had became part of Persian Achaemenid Empire during the reign of Cyrus the Great after conquering Babylon in 539BCE. The territory almost uninterruptedly remained Iranian until 7th century CE, apart from temporarily Seleucid occupation which later was liberated by Parthian dynasty of Iran. Iraq finally was occupied by Muslim-Arab invaders in 7th century, and as the result of mass migration from Arabian peninsula to the region, it has been predominantly occupied by Arabs - the only Iranian stock that still live in the region are Kurds which have occupied the northern territories.

The city of Ctesiphon, located on the east bank of the Tigris and approximately 35 kms south of modern Baghdad, was served as the Imperial capital of two major Iranian dynasties, the Parthians (248 BCE – 224 CE) and Sasanians (224-651 CE). During the reign the Sasanian King of Kings Khosrow I (anūšak.rūwān, the immortal soul - r. 531-579 CE) the former Persian land was part of Khvārvarān, which was divided into four quarters and subdivided to provinces of Mishān, Asuristān, Ādiābene and Lower Media.

The modern term Iraq is an Arabic form derivative form of Persian Ērāk (lower Iran), and is widely used in the medieval Arabic sources for the area in the centre and south of the modern republic as a geographic rather than a political term, implying no precise boundaries.
Historical note: According to the Shahnameh, it was during the reign of King Khosrow I that the precedessor of chess (Chaturanga) was first introduced into Persia from India and that the game of backgammon (nard) was first invented by the Persian wiseman Bujhimir (various spellings) in answer to the Indian challenge to "decipher the game and win the treasure." (Image from Metropolitan Museum of Art, shows the Persian wiseman Bujhimir successfully explaining how the game of chaturanga is played before the Persian court and the Indian ambassador).

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