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The Golden Eye.
November 28, 2012 5:07 PM   Subscribe

In Shahr-i Shōkhta, near the Iran/Afghanistan border, archaeologists found the remains of a six foot tall woman who they speculate might have travelled there from the Arabian peninsula. What they do feel sure about, though, is that her golden prosthetic eye was produced there in Shahr-i Shōkhta, also the home of the world's oldest backgammon set; early evidence of brain surgery; caraway seeds; evidence of metal work; an important body of textile artifacts, but apparently no weapons. It is thought to suggest the existence of a major, non Mesopotamian culture.

The Fox News link seems to be a reprint of an original Times ("London Times") article, which I wasn't willing to cough up the dough to read in full.
posted by thylacinthine (15 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite

It's so easy [for me, at least] to look at an early bronze age society and forget that lack of technological sophistication has little to do with artistic and cultural sophistication. Thanks for the reminder.

And wow, what I wouldn't give to have seen that woman in the fullness of life, wearing her Eye of Vecna!
posted by Guy Smiley at 5:44 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

The link to the textile artefacts is behind a paywall. Has anyone got access to one that is publicly available? I'd really like to read it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:53 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Damn. The Eye of Vecna joke has been made.

But this is amazing, although the first image makes her look like a Cyclops, and I am sure this somehow will lead to Atlantis.
posted by Mezentian at 5:58 PM on November 28, 2012

She's a fascinating figure, that's for sure. And I'd love to read that paper myself!
posted by thylacinthine at 5:59 PM on November 28, 2012

"It must have glittered spectacularly, conferring on the woman a mysterious and supernatural gaze"

How do they know that she wore it when she was alive, and not just added to the eye socket after she died?
posted by slater at 6:03 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are marks on the eye from being worn.
posted by thylacinthine at 6:03 PM on November 28, 2012

There are also marks on the eye socket from wear. (CSI: Fertile Crescent!) - see "golden prosthetic eye" link.
posted by Guy Smiley at 6:08 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

"The ecology of exchange: Textiles from Shahr-i Sokhta, eastern Iran" is actually a (very long and intense!) dissertation; memail me if you'd like to discuss and see the abstract, preview, etc. Irene Good is also thankfully on and she has some fascinating articles!

Like this one: Archaeological Textiles: a View of Current Research

Or this one! On the Question of Silk in Pre-Han Eurasia
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:12 PM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

The growth in knowledge about BMAC and later Jiroft has really been working to fill in some of the geographical gaps of the early Bronze Age. Folk used to think that between Sumer and the Indus must have been kinda empty, at least of complex societies. But the discovery of these two (and the identification of Anshan), has turned this bit of Asia from a backwater into something interesting. I understand there is stil so much work to do, however.

But, isn't it wonderful to think that even in the early Bronze Age, you could likely walk the best part of 5,000 km without ever really straying too far from comfortable existence?
posted by Jehan at 6:28 PM on November 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

Wow, the Wikipedia page for Shahr-i Shōkhta contains this image, which I've seen called out as the very first comic (or sequential art, or whatever Scott McCloud calls it).
posted by benito.strauss at 7:12 PM on November 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

This seems like a good time to yet again recommend the (free online!!) publication Afghanistan: Forging Civilizations along the Silk Road which does have a section by Hiebert on Bronze Age Afghanistan. If anyone has any recommendations (books, journals, newspapers) for reading up on the Bronze Age in Iran further, I would love to see them.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:31 PM on November 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Though on the topic of current scholarship, this is an interesting (relatively, though predating some of these finds) recent look at Iranian archaeology. Looting is a serious problem in the area* and it irrevocably damages our ability to excavate and understand the context of sites like this. Don't buy unprovenanced artefacts!

*well in virtually all areas
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:37 PM on November 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Renoroc at 5:59 AM on November 29, 2012

MetaFilter: early evidence of brain surgery; caraway seeds; evidence of metal work; an important body of textile artifacts, but apparently no weapons.
posted by Splunge at 9:53 AM on November 29, 2012

The World in Between: 5,000 years ago, a long-buried society in the Iranian desert helped shape the first urban age

Burial Goods

Lasting Impression
posted by homunculus at 12:53 PM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

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