Picturesque village

Archaeologists hope to shed new light on human life at Masouleh

TEHRAN — Archaeologists have started work to uncover new evidence of human life in the tourist village of Masouleh and its surroundings in northern Iran.

“This is the third archaeological campaign conducted here in Masuleh. The previous seasons held in 1370 (1991) and 1391 (2012) delivered artifacts belonging to the fifth to eighth centuries of the Hegira,” Gilan provincial tourism chief Vali Jahani said on Saturday.

Iran hopes to win UNESCO recognition for Masuleh. According to the UN cultural body, the existence of many cemeteries inside and outside the city proves its ancient texture. The picturesque village is famous for its Lego-shaped earthen houses built on top of another.

“Remains of residential buildings, foundry workshops, tools for the extraction and manufacture of metal objects (Challangari) and glazed pottery related to the Seljuk era (1037-1194) were discovered during previous excavations,” the official said.

“The current archaeological season aims to obtain additional information on the approximate extent of Old Masuleh, unearth ancient artifacts and explore possible reasons for the migration of its inhabitants to the current village.”

According to the available documents, the earthquake of 890 AH and the outbreak of the plague in 943 AH were possible reasons for the migration of the ancient people of Masoleh to the current location of this historic village, Jahani explained.

Newly discovered archaeological evidence indicates that the history of human presence in the mountains near Masouleh dates back to the Late Bronze Age (2000-1500 BC), which is extremely older than previously believed. .

Archaeological research conducted last year concluded that humans have resided in these highlands seasonally, at least since the Late Bronze Age. The survey was carried out as part of a preliminary process of compiling a complete dossier for the tourist village to be presented to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Jahani said, “These new finds would help us complete the Archaeological Atlas of the western part of Gilan, especially in the Alborz Highlands.”

The results of this preliminary investigation suggest that the mountainous landscape was probably occupied by ancient herders and nomads at least since the Late Bronze Age. In addition, the investigation revealed that remains of late prehistory, history and Islam have been recorded on the top of the mountain above 2500 meters above sea level.

Gilan is well known for its rich Iron Age cemeteries such as Marlik which have been excavated over the last century. It was once within the sphere of influence of the successive Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanian empires that ruled Iran until the 7th century CE. The subsequent Arab conquest of Iran led to the rise of many local dynasties and Gilan gained independent status which continued until 1567.

According to Freidoun Biglari, a Paleolithic archaeologist from the National Museum of Iran, the discovery of stone artifacts in these highlands indicates that the region was visited seasonally by prehistoric human groups. He added that archaeological evidence found in other parts of Gilan, such as Darband Rashi Cave, shows that the western half of the Alborz Range has been inhabited by Paleolithic hunter-gatherer groups since the Paleolithic period. inferior.

“Therefore, given the existence of numerous caves and suitable raw stone resources in the study area, we expect to find more definitive archaeological evidence of Paleolithic occupation of the Masouleh region,” said explained Biglari.

Home to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country, Masouleh is one of many stepped villages found quite often throughout the country, especially in Iranian Kurdistan and around Mashhad. They were built on a hill so steep that the roof of one house is the path to the next.

While virtually all the storied villages in Iran have been able to retain their rural and traditional essence, for some reason Masouleh has become a popular tourist destination that particularly attracts domestic vacationers.

Foreigners are less frequent, however, mainly because they are far from the classic Persian route, so most tourists don’t have time to travel so deep into the country.

According to experts, Masouleh attracts the attention of all guidebooks, portraying it as a dreamy mountain village, so it is slowly becoming the destination of choice for travelers who spend just over two weeks in Iran.

The village is pretty, made up of a few yellowish houses which disappear behind the mist in the early morning. Being the most visited storied village in Iran, Masouleh has all kinds of opinions. On the one hand, more traveler backpackers will tell you that Masouleh isn’t worth the trip unless you don’t mind eating at overpriced restaurants or trying to negotiate ridiculous prices with taxi drivers. On the other hand, less demanding travelers will tell you that Masouleh is such a pretty village not to be missed.

Surrounded by green valleys, misty forests and 3,000m peaks, Masouleh is the ultimate trekking destination in Iran, offering several trails including both day treks and multi-day treks. Along the way you will probably meet quite a few Iranian shepherds who live there, maybe not in the winter, but they have fully equipped cabins and you will probably be invited for chai (tea).

Near the top, the landscape changes from misty forests to vast green and beautiful meadows covered with blankets of flowers, a stream and a few other shepherd’s huts, just like in a fairy tale. Visitors can find both expensive hotels and budget guesthouses. To find a host family, all you have to do is walk around town and someone will approach you.

AFM