Amordad News
A discovery that surprised Iranian archaeologists

The clay tablet of accountancy in Shahr-e Sukhteh is a unique document of Iranian civilization

Translated by Shabboo Goli

The news that was reflected in the news agencies a few days ago is a special event in the archeological sector of the country and makes the cultural and civilizational values of Iran more visible. The news is as follows: “Archaeologists in the last days of the nineteenth season of excavations in Shahr-e Sukhteh, after 50 years of continuous excavations in this area, for the first time, were able to find a clay tablet of accountancy related to the beginning of the Elamite period.”

This latest discovery is the only written document of the urbanization period in eastern Iran. Accordingly, it has many values.

Hossein Moradi, an archaeologist and deputy director of Shahr-e Sukhteh Archaeological Board, discovered the inscription at a depth of 4 meters in Room 27 of the residential area of the Shahr-e Sukhteh area.

Significance of the latest discovery

What is the significance of this discovery? Regarding the discovery of an accounting tablet in Shahr-e Sukhteh, Mansour Sayed Sajjadi, head of the Archeological group, said: “The discovery of such tablets is expected in the western regions of Iran, but the point is that in the easternmost point of the Lut Plain and Iran, archeologists had not upto this date made such a unique discovery (ILNA news agency).

Most important is that the discovery of the accounting tablet shows that the people of the Ilam civilization had trade and cultural ties with Shahr-e Sukhteh. On the other hand, although Seyyed Sajjadi had previously promised the archeological community at the Southeastern Archaeological Conference that “an important event will take place very shortly and that the archeological group will make this discovery,” such an important discovery surprised everyone.

According to the head of the archaeological site of Shahr-e Sukhteh, “no such writings have been found on the east of Loot Plain and on Iran’s side, or in Afghanistan, or in Pakistan, especially, a piece of inscription had previously been found by archeologist, Dr Majidzadeh, but the text was a kind of geometrical lines that were not readable (Tasnim news agency).

Specifications of the discovered tablet

The accounting tablet found in Shahr-e Sukhteh has unique features.  This tablet is 11 cm long and 7 cm wide and has on it two types of signs. One of the signs are lines that indicate the type of goods sent with the tablet and the other is a series of deep cut rectangular shapes that show the number of goods sent, which are still not clear to the archeologists who have found the tablet. The most crucial point in the structure of this inscription is the effect of the sender’s cylindrical seal on its old raw cover, which was like our signature today for approval (Tasnim News Agency).

Based on the structure of this seal, it is clear that the people at that time used a 10-digit accounting system, unlike the Sumerians, whose accounting system was based on a 60-digit system. Archaeologists say that this work has only accounting numbers and figures without any other writings. Although a piece of the inscription is broken, it is clear that the broken part contains numbers and figures and has no writing based on the evidence and signs. It is worth mentioning that accounting in the world is nearly 6,000 years old, and the history of accounting in Iran dates back to the first civilizations that have established themselves in this land. Accounting documents obtained with 25 centuries of antiquity testify to the progress of this knowledge in ancient Iran.

Providing scientific documents

Seyyed Sajjadi said: “presently, in the last days of the exploration and research of the nineteenth chapter, we are recording, writing and preparing documents and work reports at the Shahr-e Sukhteh base, and the drilling work in the three main boreholes in the residential area has been completed” (ILNA news agency).

But it seems that the archeological team in this area, despite making such an important and unique discovery, is facing a severe shortage of financial funds! That is why Seyed Sajjadi says: “The discovery of this tablet took place in the space of three to four meters, and we were interested in conducting the necessary studies if the required funds were provided this year by expanding excavations in this area, but due to financial constraints it has always been a problem, and this is not possible “(Tasnim News Agency).

Shahr-e Sukhteh

Shahr-e Sukhteh, with five thousand years of historical and civilizational history, is one of the most valuable areas of ancient urbanization on the Iranian plateau, located 60 km from Zabol in Sistan and Baluchistan province and in 1393 it was registered as a cultural site by UNESCO.

Significant artifacts from the Shahr-e Sukhteh have already been discovered, including a 13-year-old girl with surgery on her skull, the artificial eye of a woman aged between 28 and 32, made of a combination of bitumen and animal fat and fine cold -like wire that could have been a capillary of the eye; a ruler made of ebony wood with a length of 10 cm which can measure with the precision of 1 mm; a backgammon board made of ebony wood with 60 pieces, and an earthenware cup with the design of a moving goat, which is called the oldest animation in the world.


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