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Document Details :
Title: A Chieftain's Folding Stool and the Cheragh Ali Tepe Problem
Author(s): OVERLAET, Bruno J.
Journal: Iranica Antiqua
Volume: 30 Date: 1995
Until 1960 the Archaeological Service of Iran issued commercial licenses for archaeological digs to antique dealers. In this way Iranian antiquities could legally enter museum- and private collections. In the fifties and sixties the Gilan province was the principal region where such digs took place. Large quantities of antiquities from commercial digs (and from illegal digs as well) flooded the market and were said to come from graves in Amlash, Dailaman, Rudbar, Gilan ... This incited both Persian and foreign scientific expeditions to make surveys and excavations in Gilan. E.O. Negahban reported that “by the beginning of 1961 the highlands of Gilan were saturated with illegal excavators”. The Japanese expeditions were however still able to locate and excavate undisturbed Parthian and Sassanian graves and thus could confirm that Dailaman, and in a larger sense the Gilan province, was a plausible origin for the many Sassanian objects on the antiquity market. The presence of Sassanian graves with important gravegoods contrasts with the scarcity of graves in the rest of Persia. This can be explained by the strong opposition of orthodox Sassanian Zoroastrianism against burials. Procopius e.g. mentions that Kavad had his confidant tried and executed because among other things, he had buried his wife. The right of the Christians living within the Sassanian empire to bury their dead had e.g. to be specifically mentioned in a treaty between Khosrow I and the Byzantine emperor Justin II. The presence of graves of the Sassanian era indicates that at least part of the Dailaman population did not belong to the orthodox Zoroastrian faith. A statement of alMasudi seems to confirm this. He declares that in his time, i.e. the tenth century A.D., there were still people living in Dailaman who did not adhere to any religion, which meant in his point of view the Islamic, Christian or Zoroastrian belief. Also politically the Dailamites always preserved a large degree of independence. Historic sources specifically mention them as mercenaries, fighting with the Sassanian forces and it is not until the beginning of the sixth century A.D. that the Sassanians seem to have expanded their political power to include Dailaman. The precise ethnic and cultural background of the Dailamites remains however, very obscure.