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Palmyrene Rock Graves Discovered in Iranian island

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    Posted: 16-Dec-2006 at 11:17
http://www.chnpress.com/news/?section=2&id=6872
 
Archeologists at the Persian Gulf Island of Khark discovered two Sassanid era tomb-temples belonging to Palmyra tribes, each used for the temporary keeping of 42 corpses.
 
Tehran, 16 December 2006 (CHN Foreign Desk) -- Archeologists at the Persian Gulf Island of Khark recently came across a catacomb containing two tomb-temples dated to the Sassanid dynastic period (224651 AD). The tombs belong to Palmyra tribes and were used for the temporary keeping of corpses.
 
Palmyra was a trading community near the margin of the Roman and Persian empires. Palmyra is the Roman name for a city called Tadmor in its peoples own language. It was located near the edge of the Syrian desert between Roman Syria and Persian Babylonia and has a long history that goes back to the second millennium BC.
 
Palmyrenes were merchant tribes living in present-day Syria who mostly used waterways to trade goods and Khark Island [in the Persian Gulf] was once one of their temporary residences. Whenever one of them died en route to this Island or during their stay in the Persian Gulf region, the Palmyrenes would use these temples for the temporary keeping of the corpse until they returned from trade in the faraway lands. The Palmyrenes would then take the corpse with themselves on their way back to their homeland, explained Hamid Zarei, head of the team of archeologists in Khark Island.
 
According to this archeologist, each tomb-temple carved deep in the rocks had enough room for 42 corpses which were laid down in three rows on the cliffs. He also said that the structure of these tomb-temples is very similar to modern-time mortuary cold chambers, but the only difference is that only stones were used in the construction of these temporary burial sites.
 
In these catacombs, the cliffs were first made hollow inside and then the bottom part was scraped to make rail-like ridges to allow the chunks slide in and out freely just like a drawer. Then the corpse was placed inside and the slab was pushed back into the cliff. This way, the Palmyrenes could fit up to 42 corpses in three rows dug into the cliffs in each tomb-temple.
 
Zarei further said that the Palmyrenes used several methods to prevent the corpse from decomposing: The Palmyrenes mummified their dead and scented them with herbal condiments to keep them from decaying so long as they are in the tomb-temples, explained Zarei.
 
Architectural design features particular of Sassanid monuments can also be seen in these tomb-temples which shows how much the art of the Sassanids influenced the architectural styles of non-Iranians more than 17 centuries ago. 
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