Monday 6 August 2012
Iranian archaeologists have unearthed remains of an ancient workshop during excavations in the historical city of Gaskar (گسکر) in the Northern Province of Gilan (گیلان).
The second phase of archaeological excavations yielded the 1200 year old structure along with a collection of tiles from the Islamic era (post Sassanid). Archaeologists say the workshop had probably been part of a two-storey building with brick walls and two large rooms.
Remains of a kiln and divisions of the structure’s internal space suggest it had been a public place used as a workshop of some kind. The Safavid tiles discovered during the excavation project bear human figures and are among the most important archaeological finds from the Islamic era in the region.
«Recent excavations also yielded new sections of the structures discovered during previous projects including parts of a brick wall believed to have been the entrance to a public bath», head of the archaeology team V. Jahani told CHN. «The interesting thing about the building is that its floor was made with bricks and then covered with tiles», he added.
Gaskar is located 55 km to the provincial capital of Rasht (رشت) and is now covered with the heavy forest of Haft Daghanan (هفت دغنان). The ancient site was still inhabited during the Safavid reign (1502-1736 AD). Remnant of three brick bridges and a structure known as Haft Daghanan Bathhouse are seen in the area. Relics unearthed from the area include seals and rings, copper and zinc coins, earthenware, tallow burners, oil lamps and giant clay vessels used for burying the dead. Pottery and brick kilns, glassblowing and blacksmithing workshops, and old cemeteries have also been identified in the area. The city was abandoned after the outbreak of Black Plague 250 years ago, which was followed by a quake. However, it has remained intact because of the thick vegetation in the area.
The 1,200 year old city mirrors the antic civilization of Gilan. The ancient city at first came up for studies in 2003 and an area of 60 hectares was registered on the National Heritage List. The second round of excavations at Haft Daghanan led to the discovery of a historical city.
During studies conducted in 2003, archaeologists discovered 17 pieces of potteries and porcelains three meters below the ground. It appears that the inhabitants of the city threw away their potteries following the import of dishes from China.
Close to 40% of the ancient city is destroyed due to road construction activities. The rest is surrounded by forest vegetation. In addition, sections of the city have been destroyed due to illegal excavations. Further explorations in Haft Daghanan can give insight into Gilan province during the post-Sassanid era.
Gilan was the only province of Iran which was never been invaded by Muslim Arabs. The local princes were able to keep their independence and the region stayed Zoroastrian until the reign of Shah Abbas Safavi (1587-1629) who put an end to the power of the local rulers and forcibly converted the population to Shia Islam. Archaeological excavations have yielded many sites and artefacts in northern Iran over the past century. One of the most famous archaeological sites in Iran’s Gilan Province is Marlik (مارلیک) near the city of Roudbar (رودبار). The site of a royal cemetery, and artefacts found at this site date back to 3,000 years ago.