Monday 23 November 2009
An Iraqi excavation team has uncovered a grave with magnificent finds dating to the Parthian period. The grave’s artefacts have astonished scientists for their beauty and magnificence. «The discovery includes 216 artefacts all belonging to the Parthian Period», said Antiquities Department spokesman Abdulzahara al-Talaqani.
Talaqani said the finds are at least about 2000 years old and the new grave is the largest to be excavated from the same period in Iraq.
The Parthians were an Iranian ethnicity who founded the Arsacid dynasty. Their name is probably drawn from the Persian dialect they spoke, historically known as Parthava. At the height of its power, the empire ruled most of Greater Iran, Mesopotamia, and Armenia. They ruled for more than five centuries while their empire survived from 247 BC to 224 AD.
Talaqani said the grave occupies 306 m² and consists of several floors connected by special staircases. He said Iraqi excavators also came across «pottery pieces of glass all in good condition and that digging is continuing.»
The team working on the Parthian grave is one of nine other teams currently excavating Iraq’s ancient treasures.
The acting head of the Antiquities Department Qais Hassan said: «The grave exhibits important architectural features. The dead were buried in it with their belongings such as gold, precious stone and pottery.»
Hassan declined to give details about the location of the grave for security reasons.
«It is not the first time the pick-axes of foreign and Iraq scientists strike Parthian treasures. But this time Iraqi pick-axes have brought to light the largest and the finest Parthian grave which has astonished and surprised us», Hassan said
He said the great care taken «of the architecture, decoration and building of the grave is a sign that the grave does not belong to ordinary people but to the royalty.»
The Arsacids were in an almost perpetual state of war, either to capture and hold territory from the Seleucids, or to prevent vassal states from breaking away, or defending themselves against the Roman Empire in the west and nomadic tribes in the east. Economically and militarily severely weakened by the incessant warring, the infighting of its nobility, the Parthian Arsacids were finally vanquished by the Persian Sassanids, formerly a minor vassal from south-western Iran, around AD 220. In Armenia, a branch of the Arsacid dynasty continued to rule their kingdom until the 5th century.