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Showing 1 results for Accidental Discoveries

Mahdi Khalili, Iraj Rezaei,
year 3, Issue 10 (2-2020)

Having a favorable environment, the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea have hosted human settlements for millennia. So far, as a result of archaeological excavations as well as illegal diggings, a considerable number of ancient artifacts have been unearthed from archaeological sites in this region. The nature of many finds from unauthorized excavations and accidental discoveries are still unclear. These objects, generally found as hoards, often have unknown provenance and unknown fate. However, some of the objects, which are discovered from the Mazandaran region during the last centuries, are unique and their analogous have never been found from elsewhere. These are the main questions this research tries to answer: 1. given quantitative aspects of the accidental or unauthorized finds from Mazandaran, what sorts of information can be achieved by the study of these objects? 2.Which groups of sources can be helpful for the study of historical objects found by accident in the territory of the Mazandaran province? In this research, we will focus on certain historical objects from Mazandaran, which have been discovered either accidentally or by unauthorized diggings during the last two centuries. A number of these objects are currently kept in museums not only in Iran, but also in some western countries. Their provenance and fate can sometimes be traced in historical books, newspapers, travelogues and oral narratives. This study attempts to show the necessity of reconsideration of the provenance of certain objects as well as their historical and artistic significance. 
Keywords: Mazandaran, Ancient Objects, Qajar and Pahlavi Periods, Unauthorized Excavations, Accidental Discoveries.

The name of the treasure and desire to achieve it, has always been tempting for some people, even kings and princes. Treasure finding, antiques, buying antiques and collecting of antiques have been prevalent among the Iranians, at least since the Qajar era. At the time of Naser al-Din Shah (1264-1313 AH), some scattered concessions have been granted to the various western governments for excavation in some historical sites of Iran. In the historical books of Mazandaran, during the Islamic Middle Ages and even in the works of ancient poets such as Omar Khayyam Neyshabouri (440-536 AH), have been mentioned to the treasury and the legend of its discovery, which some of them are fictional. For example, in the book of Tabaristan history, have been mentioned to the digging of Hissam al-Dawlah Ardeshir (636-647 AH) in the city of Amol and discovering of a woman’s skeleton. As well as it is said about the Marashians that they seized the property of the defeated clans and people’s and buried part of it underground and hiding another in the fort of Mahaneh-sar. This treasury was so important that Taimur Gurkan (771-807 AH) always said that the Marashian Treasury was more than the property of several monarchs which he had dominated over them. In common belief, historical objects have often of a commercial and profit-making nature, and of course many exaggerated stories and narratives have been made and discussed about it. In the past few centuries, some of the folk tales about the monuments of Mazandaran have been mentioned by Orientalists and Western travelers. Similar to such stories that derives from the folk notions about the historical treasuries, is heard from the whole of Iran. In general, the narratives related to the discovery of historical objects in Mazandaran are scattered, but significant. This article points to the discovery of historical objects in Mazandaran that are more relevant to the contemporary period (before the Islamic Revolution of 1979).

In the contemporary era, many unique historical objects have been obtained in Mazandaran while digging in agricultural lands, road construction, landslides, floods and so on. According to Ezatollah Negahban, before the excavations of Marlik and Pileh-Qaleh, most of the ancient artifacts in the Mazandaran and Gilan areas were obtained as a result of unauthorized and commercial diggings.  many of these discoveries are including of silver objects, especially silver coins. In generally regarding to the accidental way in which such objects were discovered, the available sources do not give much detail about them and the available references are usually transient and sometimes ambiguous. Some of the most important artifacts or collections found in the Mazandaran accidental discoveries that have been specifically studied in this article include: Historical objects obtained from the cemeteries of Voraw, Ozirak and DerooshKor all located in the vicinity of Kandlus village in Kojur section of Nowshahr city at the time of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar, which included pottery wares, earrings, necklaces, beads and so on. The accidental discoveries of Konim village and Hezar-jerib of Mazandaran which discovered by a shepherd in time of ruling of Nasser al-Din Shah including three inscribed vessels belonged to the Islamic period, the Sassanid silver mirror frame discovered from Chalus with a Pahlavi inscription, three Sassanid silver vessels discovered from Sari in 1333, three other Sassanian vessels from Mazandaran purchased for the National Museum of Iran in 1334; the Kelardasht treasury discovered in 1318 in Reza Shah palace including exquisite objects such as a famous gold cup and some Sasanian silverwares, the treasury of Adineh mosque of Jawaherdeh acquired in 1330, the Sawadkuh Shirgah treasury discovered in 1334, 129 silver coins belonging to the Sassanid and Islamic periods from the village of Islamabad and Zaid and some other scattered objects which discovered from accidental discoveries of Mazandaran.

Undoubtedly, the Mazandaran region is one of the most prominent historical and cultural regions of Iran. A look at the position of this region in the Iranian history and mythology as well as the quality of its historical monuments and artifacts remain from different periods attests the historical importance of Mazandaran. In the folk narratives about Mazandaran have repeatedly referred to the discovery of historical artifacts by various rulers which indicating their attention to such objects and artifacts. However, many of the existing narratives are exaggerated and some time the validity of some of them is questionable. The treasure and trove searching has historically been popular among the people in this area, which some of them has been mentioned in this study.
In this article, we only study some historical objects discovered from unauthorized excavations or accidental discoveries during the last two centuries until the Second Pahlavi Period. The mean of accidental discoveries is the artifacts which discovery in result of actions such as plowing, various constructions, floods, unintentional destruction, and so on and constraint by related offices. The sources cited in this article are mainly are historical texts and documents, travelogues, and press of the Qajar and Pahlavi periods. The fate of many historical objects discovered from unauthorized diggings or accidental discoveries is unknown. Some of these objects are scattered in internal museums or in the foreign museums and private collections. These objects are often unorganized and have not an obvious condition. However, some of the artifacts found in Mazandaran, including the Gold Cup of Kelardasht and the Sasanian silverwares, are unique in terms of artistic and historical value. In this article, we tried to explore some of the hidden and explicit angles related to these objects. Achieving better results depends on the efforts of other researchers.

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فصلنامه مطالعات باستان شناسی پارسه Parseh Journal of Archaeological Studies
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