Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The world's first artificial eye

Reconstruction of the Face of a 5000-year old Woman in iran

The face of a 5000 year old Iranian woman has been recently reconstructed with the latest scientific archaeology methods of by Iranian researchers (see Persian-languiage article sourced from Tabnak News-see also English-language posting in Afarensis: Anthropology, Evolution & Science) .

Reconstruction of 5000 year-old woman found at the “Burnt City”. Her face was reconstructed with the latest technology available to anthropologists, paleontologists and forensic experts. She is believed to have been of the ancient city’s upper crust and served as a priestess during her lifetime. The lady is also notable due to the artificial eye that was discovered, still  lodged in the eye socket of her skull after thousands of years.
Maryam Tabeshian of the Cultural Heritage News Agency of Iran (December 10, 2006 had previously noted of researchers having excavated a 4,800-5000 year-old artificial eye along with a skeleton and other findings from the Burnt City (located near the city of Zahedan in Iran’s Seistan-Baluchistan province in the southeast of Iran).

Skeleton of a young woman from the Burnt City. Note artificial eye in the eye socket of the skull.
The site of the Burnt City has also yielded numerous interesting finds including an ancient measuring rulerbackgammon game pieces and an animation device.  Researchers have ascertained that the artifical eye belonged to a woman aged 25-30 who hailed from a higher echolon of the local society at the Burnt City.
Ancient dices discovered at the Burnt-City. At present experts are (a) attempting to determine why the game was played with sixty pieces and (b) working to decode the rules of the game. Iranians call Backgammon “Takht-e Nard”.
Interestingly, the woman’s gravesite has also yielded vessels of clay, a leather bag, a mirror of bronze and various other ornaments. Professor Michael Harris, a specialist in the field of optometry at the University of California at Berkeley, has stated that:
It’s unlikely such attention and effort would have been paid to a commoner…She may have been a member of a royal family or an otherwise wealthy individual.”
Prosthetics were of course known in the ancient era with references made to an artificial eye of gold in Hebrew texts (Yer. Ned. 41c; comp. Yer. Sanh. 13c). The prosthetic found in Iran however is different in that it is evidence of the oldest attempt at making this as “realistic” as possible. Professor Mansur Sayyed-Sajadi, who supervised the excavation, has stated:
At first glance, it seems natural tar mixed with animal fat has been used in making [the eye]…whoever made the eye likely used a fine golden wire, thinner than half a millimeter, to draw even the most delicate eye capillaries…”

A curious feature of the “eye” are parallel lines that have been drawn around the pupil to form a diamond shape.
Two holes at the sides of the “eye” helped hold it in iplace.  The eye socket of the woman however appears to have developed an abscess as a result fo constant contact with the prosthetic.

Further tests are being conducted in iran to determine the exact chemical composition of the prosthetic.

This article is been queted from Dr. Kaveh Farrokh site

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Safavid Zar-baft Fabrics

Being worldwide known, made world’s kings desirous to have a piece of Zar-baft (Brocade) as a gift from Shah Abbas the Great.

These artistic method of fabric weaving has a length of 2500 years old or even more. Some traces are recorded from Achaemenid, succeeded by Sassanid, early Islamic dynasties who flourished this art-industry and Ilkhanid dynasty the period of Marco Polo and the Silk Road. 

these two photos are remnants of Sassanids fabrics, discovered in Egypt. watch the horse and phoenix patterns.

We can’t talk about Safavid techniques, style and variety without considering the Timurid era who revived the Iranian arts. Many textile workshops established in Samarqand. It’s said that Tamerlane brought many of weavers from Damascus to Samarqand.
Although having a wide variety, we can categorize the Safavid Zar-bafts into 3major artistic school.
1. Tabriz School: established on the basis of Behzad style and Herat school of Persian painting. Most of these artisans were painters actually. Two cities of Yazd and Kashan are more famous in this knitting style which is recognizing by its patterns of man in ceremony, battle, hunting and especially the scene of the prisoner and guard.
2. Isfahan School: in fact it’s the last school of Iranian miniature, founded by Reza Abbasi and followed by his students. Setting up the Isfahan Art Center besides of Shah Abbas the great supportive decisions resulted in close relation among different craftsmen. Many painters weaved fabrics.
3. Yazd school: the last but not least school which is founded by Qias-odin Ali Naqshbandi in central city of Yazd. The indicator of this method is slender altar and floral patterns.
 a piece of cloth, weaved by Qias-odin Ali Naqshbandi which is in Washington museum, now.

Besides of these different schools, there are two types of Zar-bafts generally:
  • Darayee-baaft: refers to those ones that are heavy and ponderous. Their sinew is consisted of Golabatoon (Braid) fiber (1). 
  • Atlas-baaft: the second type which is tender, delicate and light whose woofs is silk. 
Take a look on the remnants of these masterpieces:

photos of a Zari-bafi workshop in Isfahan by Hamid Reza Nikoo Maram

(1): Golabatoon (Braid) is silk or linen fiber wrapped in gold or silver. Iranians practice it by pulling a metal wire in order to make a half millimeter wire for spiraling it around the string.
According to Hans. E. Wolf, using the animal intestines fiber in Rome, the Leader and paper fiber in China were the other methods of preparation of Golabatoon.
machine of Golabatoon making

This article is derived from the Persian Article of "Zar-baft weaving style under Safavids" by "Zohre Rouh-Far".

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Lost Civilization in Persian Gulf

Lost Civilization May Have Existed Beneath the Persian Gulf

By Jeanna Bryner, LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 09 December 2010 01:01 pm ET
This map reveals the Arabian Peninsula with regions that were exposed as sea levels fell, and so became environmental refuges, possibly for some of the earliest humans out of Africa. Credit: Current Anthropology.

Veiled beneath the Persian Gulf, a once-fertile landmass may have supported some of the earliest humans outside Africa some 75,000 to 100,000 years ago, a new review of research suggests.
At its peak, the floodplain now below the Gulf would have been about the size of Great Britain, and then shrank as water began to flood the area. Then, about 8,000 years ago, the land would have been swallowed up by the Indian Ocean, the review scientist said.
The study, which is detailed in the December issue of the journal Current Anthropology, has broad implications for aspects of human history. For instance, scientists have debated over when early modern humans exited Africa, with dates as early as 125,000 years ago and as recent as 60,000 years ago (the more recent date is the currently accepted paradigm), according to study researcher Jeffrey Rose, an archaeologist at the University of Birmingham in the U.K.
"I think Jeff's theory is bold and imaginative, and hopefully will shake things up," Robert Carter of Oxford Brookes University in the U.K. told LiveScience. "It would completely rewrite our understanding of the out-of-Africa migration. It is far from proven, but Jeff and others will be developing research programs to test the theory."
Viktor Cerny of the Archaeogenetics Laboratory, the Institute of Archaeology, in Prague, called Rose's finding an "excellent theory," in an e-mail to LiveScience, though he also points out the need for more research to confirm it.
The findings have sparked discussion among researchers, including Carter and Cerny, who were allowed to provide comments within the research paper, about who exactly the humans were who occupied the Gulf basin.
"Given the presence of Neanderthal communities in the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates River, as well as in the eastern Mediterranean region, this may very well have been the contact zone between moderns and Neanderthals," Rose told LiveScience. In fact, recent evidence from the sequencing of the Neanderthal genome suggests interbreeding, meaning we are part caveman.
Watery refuge
The Gulf Oasis would have been a shallow inland basin exposed from about 75,000 years ago until 8,000 years ago, forming the southern tip of the Fertile Crescent, according to historical sea-level records.
And it would have been an ideal refuge from the harsh deserts surrounding it, with fresh water supplied by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun and Wadi Baton Rivers, as well as by upwelling springs, Rose said. And during the last ice age when conditions were at their driest, this basin would've been at its largest.
In fact, in recent years, archaeologists have turned up evidence of a wave of human settlements along the shores of the Gulf dating to about 7,500 years ago.
"Where before there had been but a handful of scattered hunting camps, suddenly, over 60 new archaeological sites appear virtually overnight," Rose said. "These settlements boast well-built, permanent stone houses, long-distance trade networks, elaborately decorated pottery, domesticated animals, and even evidence for one of the oldest boats in the world."
Rather than quickly evolving settlements, Rose thinks precursor populations did exist but have remained hidden beneath the Gulf. [History's Most Overlooked Mysteries]
"Perhaps it is no coincidence that the founding of such remarkably well developed communities along the shoreline corresponds with the flooding of the Persian Gulf basin around 8,000 years ago," Rose said. "These new colonists may have come from the heart of the Gulf, displaced by rising water levels that plunged the once fertile landscape beneath the waters of the Indian Ocean."
Ironclad case?
The most definitive evidence of these human camps in the Gulf comes from a new archaeological site called Jebel Faya 1 within the Gulf basin that was discovered four years ago. There, Hans-Peter Uerpmann of the University of Tubingen in Germany found three different Paleolithic settlements occurring from about 125,000 to 25,000 years ago. That and other archaeological sites, Rose said, indicate "that early human groups were living around the Gulf basin throughout the Late Pleistocene."
To make an ironclad case for such human occupation during the Paleolithic, or early Stone Age, of the now-submerged landmass, Rose said scientists would need to find any evidence of stone tools scattered under the Gulf. "As for the Neolithic, it would be wonderful to find some evidence for human-built structures," dated to that time period in the Gulf, Rose said.
Carter said in order to make for a solid case, "we would need to find a submerged site, and excavate it underwater. This would likely only happen as the culmination of years of survey in carefully selected areas."
Cerny said a sealed-tight case could be made with "some fossils of the anatomically modern humans some 100,000 years old found in South Arabia."
And there's a hint of mythology here, too, Rose pointed out. "Nearly every civilization living in southern Mesopotamia has told some form of the flood myth. While the names might change, the content and structure are consistent from 2,500 B.C. to the Genesis account to the Qur'anic version," Rose said.
Perhaps evidence beneath the Gulf? "If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands," said Rose, quoting Douglas Adams.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

5new Intangible Heritage of Iran in UNESCO list

1. The music of the Bakhshis of Khorasan
In Khorasan Province, the Bakhshis are renowned for their musical skill with the dotār, a two-stringed, long-necked lute. They recount Islamic and Gnostic poems and epics containing mythological, historical or legendary themes. Their music, known as Maghami, consists of instrumental and/or vocal pieces, performed in Turkish, Kurdish, Turkmen and Persian. Navāyī is the most widespread magham: diverse, vocal, rhythmless, accompanied by Gnostic poems. Other examples include the Turkish maghams Tajnīs and Gerāyelī, the religious themes of Shākhatāyī, and Loy, an antique romantic magham, belonging to the Kormanj Kurds of Northern Khorasan. Bakhshis consider one string of the dotār to be male and the other female; the male string remains open, while the female is used to play the main melody. Bakhshi music is passed on through traditional master-pupil training, which is restricted to male family members or neighbours, or modern methods, in which a master trains a wide range of students of both genders from diverse backgrounds. The music transmits history, culture, ethical and religious fundamentals. Therefore, the social role of the Bakhshis exceeds that of mere narrator, and defines them as judges, mediators and healers, as well as guardians of the ethnic and regional cultural heritage of their community.

2. The Pahlevani and Zoorkhanei rituals
Pahlevani is an Iranian martial art that combines elements of Islam, Gnosticism and ancient Persian beliefs. It describes a ritual collection of gymnastic and callisthenic movements performed by ten to twenty men, each wielding instruments symbolizing ancient weapons. The ritual takes place in a Zoorkhane, a sacred domed structure with an octagonal sunken arena and audience seats. The Morshed (master) who leads the Pahlevani ritual performs epic and Gnostic poems and beats out time on a zarb goblet drum. The poems he recites transmit ethical and social teachings and constitute part of Zoorkhanei literature. Participants in the Pahlevani ritual may be drawn from any social strata or religious background, and each group has strong ties to its local community, working to assist those in need. During training, students are instructed in ethical and chivalrous values under the supervision of a Pīshkesvat (champion). Those who master the individual skills and arts, observe religious principles and pass ethical and moral stages of Gnosticism may acquire the prominent rank of Pahlevanī (hero), denoting rank and authority within the community. At present, there are 500 Zoorkhanes across Iran, each comprising practitioners, founders and a number of Pīshkesvats.

3. The ritual dramatic art of Ta‘zīye 
Ta‘zīye (or Ta’azyeh) is a ritual dramatic art that recounts religious events, historical and mythical stories and folk tales. Each performance has four elements: poetry, music, song and motion. Some performances have up to a hundred roles, divided into historical, religious, political, social, supernatural, real, imaginary and fantasy characters. Each Ta‘zīye drama is individual, having its own subject, costumes and music. Performances are rich with symbolism, conventions, codes and signs understood by Iranian spectators, and take place on a stage without lighting or decoration. Performers are always male, with female roles being played by men, and most are amateurs who gain their living through other means but perform for spiritual rewards. While Ta‘zīye has a prominent role in Iranian culture, literature and art, everyday proverbs are also drawn from its ritual plays. Its performances help promote and reinforce religious and spiritual values, altruism and friendship while preserving old traditions, national culture and Iranian mythology. Ta‘zīye also plays a significant role in preserving associated crafts, such as costume-making, calligraphy and instrument-making. Its flexibility has led it to become a common language for different communities, promoting communication, unity and creativity. Ta‘zīye is transmitted by example and word of mouth from tutor to pupil.

4. Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Fars 
Iranians enjoy a global reputation in carpet weaving, and the carpet weavers of Fars, located in the south-west of Iran, are among the most prominent. Wool for the carpets is shorn by local men in spring or autumn. The men then construct the carpet loom – a horizontal frame placed on the ground – while the women convert the wool into yarn on spinning wheels. The colours used are mainly natural: reds, blues, browns and whites produced from dyestuffs including madder, indigo, lettuce leaf, walnut skin, cherry stem and pomegranate skin. The women are responsible for the design, colour selection and weaving, and bring scenes of their nomadic lives to the carpet. They weave without any cartoon (design) – no weaver can weave two carpets of the same design. Coloured yarn is tied to the wool web to create the carpet. To finish, the sides are sewn, extra wool is burned away to make the designs vivid, and the carpet is given a final cleaning. All these skills are transferred orally and by example. Mothers train their daughters to use the materials, tools and skills, while fathers train their sons in shearing wool and making looms.

5. Traditional skills of carpet weaving in Kashan 
Long a centre for fine carpets, Kashan has almost one in three residents employed in carpet-making, with more than two-thirds of the carpet-makers being women. The carpet-weaving process starts with a design, elaborated from among a series of established styles, including motifs such as flowers, leaves, branches, animals and scenes taken from history. Woven on a loom known as a dar, the warp and woof are of cotton or silk. The pile is made by knotting wool or silk yarns to the warp with the distinctive Farsi knot, then held in place by a row of the woven woof, and beaten with a comb. The Farsi weaving style (also known as asymmetrical knotting) is applied with exemplary delicacy in Kashan, so that the back side of the carpet is finely and evenly knotted. The colours of Kashan carpets come from a variety of natural dyes including madder root, walnut skin, pomegranate skin and vine leaves. The traditional skills of Kashan carpet weaving are passed down to daughters through apprenticeship under instruction from their mothers and grandmothers. Apprenticeship is also the means by which men learn their skills of designing, dyeing, shearing, loom-building and tool-making.

Ouoted from: www.unesco.org 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Sama Dance (Sufi whirling)

Today was Demise of Maulana 737th anniversary. not only in this day but in many ritual events the Sufis practis Sama Dance or Sufi Whirling.
Sufi whirling is a physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a customary dance performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens) aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one's nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one's body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun. Wikipedia
the following photos are taken by Babak Borzuye, the Iranian Photographer who travelled four times to Konya, Turkey to record this festival.

and this photo reveals the a not very old histor of Sama Dance: 

Sunday, August 01, 2010


WOW! Today two other Iranian Sites have been registered as "World Heritage Site" by UNESCO.
Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex & Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil both are located in North Western part of Iran. with them Iran has 12 Cultural Site in this list.

The following are the Iranian sites on the World Heritage List:
  1. Chogha Zanbil, Elamite Period (1250 BCE), Khuzestan Province, 1979
  2. Persepolis, Achaemenid Dynasty, Fars Province, 1979
  3. Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Safavid Dynasty, Isfahan Province, 1979
  4. Takht-e Soleiman, Sasanian Dynasty, West Azerbaijan Province, 2003
  5. Pasargadae, Achaemenid Dynasty, Fars Province, 2004
  6. The city of Bam and its Cultural Landscape, Parthian Dynasty, Kerman Province, 2004
  7. Soltanieh Dome, Ilkhanid Period, Zanjan Province, 2005
  8. Bistun Complex, Achaemenid and Sasanian Dynasty, Kermanshah Province, 2006
  9. Historical churches of St. Thaddeus and St. Stephanus, West Azerbaijan Province, and Dzordzor (Zorzor), East Azerbaijan Province, 2008
  10. Shushtar’s ancient water system, Sasanian Dynasty, Khuzestan Province, 2009
  11. Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi ad-Din Aradbili, Ilkhanid and Safavid Dynasty, Aradbil Province, 2010
  12. Tabriz Bazaar, Ilkhanid and Safavid Dynasty, East Azarbaijan Province, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


just a few photos from memorable Armenia:

 The Old Hraparak, also known az Republic Square has been devised by Alexander Tamanian as the center of Yerevan in reconstruction

 City of Fountains!
They told me the number of Fountains is equal to the age of Yerevan!

 Sevan Lake which is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in the world

Descend !
Tsakhkadzor ski resort