The site, Gand-Ab was archaeologically excavated during three seasons in 2002, 2003, 2006. During the first season, more than 25 graves were discovered, some of which were illegally excavated. In this excavation, we tried to use the excavated graves for completing our information about the funeral customs and architectural features of Gand-Ab Graves. The second season continued archaeological, anthropological studies; in addition to geological, topographical and networking studies of Gand-Ab Site. Seventeen graves were excavated during this season. In the third season in 1385, settlement sites were excavated as well as the graves, and this was an excavation of Gand-Ab settlements for the first time. During the first season, two hypotheses were proposed about the non-proportionality of architectural remnants and the settlements in Gand-Ab compared to the extent of the grave. This site is about 51 km northern Semnan City, 26 km northern Shahmirzad City, and 3 km west of Shahmirzad-Sari Road. This site is located 53/28/23 eastern longitude and 35/54/21 northern latitude. The Gand-Ab Site is about 2280 m above the sea level (Image 1 & 2).
Keywords: Semnan Archaeology, Graveyard, Iron Age, Gand-Ab, Kharand.
A: Body positioning
Burials placed in a number of different positions:
1. Supine burying (Image 4); 2. Squatting burying (Image 5).
In supine, the dead were buried straight, on their back, head on their right shoulder or their left shoulder. Their hands were sometimes straight at the sides of their bodies and sometimes they were placed on their stomach or on their chests. Any special direction for dead bodies were not observed. In squatting, the dead body were on sides of their bodies without considering any directions. The direction of the graves had been selected based on geographical conditions, so that the head had been placed in contrary to the slopes of the mountain, while their feet had been on the direction of the slopes.
B: the architecture of Graves
Because of the rocks, the Gand-Ab graves had been dug in a special method. These graves were prepared based on the height of the dead. The architecture of the graves in this site is of four types:
1. Hand-dug rocky graves; 2. One-stratigraphic graves; 3. Two-stratigraphic graves; 4. Sour-stratigraphic graves.
1. Hand-dug rocky graves: first rocks were dug, and then the dead had been placed inside the grave. After funeral, they had covered the dead with another rock, and at last they covered it all with soil. It is observed in some cases that they had filled the seam between rocks with pieces of sand and mud (Image 6).
2. One-stratigraphic graves: in these kinds of graves, one walls of the grave were built by placing stones on each other without using mud. The covering rock were placed on the grave in a declivitous form (Image 7).
3. Two-stratigraphic graves: in this kind of burying, two walls at the length of the grave were built by placing stones on each otherand covering it by a rock. On the wall of these graves were considered four niches. The existence of niches in graves is one of architectural features of Gand-Ab and Kharand Graves. However, there were discovered graves without any niches (Image 8).
4. Four-stratigraphic graves: the interior walls of these graves were all made by placing
pieces of sand and stones without using mud. On the wall of these graves, there were discovered one to four niches, in which they had placed things and food. Looking at the
covering rock, it is possible to guess the sex of the skeleton. Gand-Ab settlements had left much more things for the dead women. Therefore, for leaving more things in a grave they had needed more space, so that the covering rock had needed to be bigger (Image 9).
The Covering of Graves
The covering rocks on graves in Gand-Ab were prepared from the Sar Avar Mine in southern Gand-Ab. Some rocks had been monolith rocks, which are now broken into the grave because of pressure. In some cases, stones were placed on graves using trunks of trees (Image 10). It is observed in some cases that the seam between the wall and the covering rock had been filled with smaller stones and mud (Image 11) so that the soil do not enter the grave.
The Art of Pottery
The Gand-Ab settlements had been skilful potters, who had created lots of artistic beauties. The pottery paste in Gand-Ab is mostly a brownish red color. buff color is rarely observed. Kitchen pottery with soft paste and smoky body is observed among pieces of pottery as well. Pieces of sand are used for pasting pieces of pottery. Both hand-made and wheel-made pottery was observed in Gand-Ab. Most pieces of pottery are well-baked, but some pieces are mildly baked, while some are badly baked so that they had completely been smashed.
Because of the shortage of published sources, the author had to rely on the sources kept in the northern provinces of Iran (Golestan, Mazandaran and Gilan), which have mostly been discovered from smugglers, and compare them with the excavated cultural material from Gand-Ab. It is worth considering that most of the cultural material kept in these places had been dated wrongly because of a lack of knowledge about this site. Based on the existing documents, some tribes had been scattered at the end of the second millennium BC to the first millennium BC (Iron II, III) at the mountain ranges of Alborz and close to the water resources. The economy of these tribes had been based on ranching and for this purpose they had travelled from lowlands of Mazandaran to mountain ranges during summer to use rich pastures such as Kharand, Dargazeh, KhatirKuh, Gand-Ab, etc. These tribes had been aware of the arts such as pottery, metallurgy and decoration.
These tribes had a rich architecture. They used the local materials such as stones, mud and wood of Avras (gorse). The social hierarchy in Gand-Ab is recognized based on the quality and quantity of materials that they had placed besides women compared to men. Settlers in Gand-Ab had believed in the afterlife and they had placed close to the death inside the graves materials such as pottery, metals, stones and food. In addition to meat, these tribes had used herbal seeds. The dead had been buried with clothes because there were discovered cloths in the graves.
- Vanden Berghe, L .A. (1964). La Necropole de khurvin. Leiden.