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Archaeological Unit From Harvard Unearths Lost Fortress in Persia


A team of Harvard archaeologists unearthed last summer the lost citadel of Carmania, the ancient city in southeastern Iran which Alexander the Great conquered bloodlessly in 325 B.C.

The group, headed by C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, assistant professor of Anthropology at the Peabody Museum, found the remains of Carmania near the top of a mound, known as Tepe Yahya, which they were exploring.

The team also discovered, at the base of the mound, the remains of a Neolithic community that thrived around 5500 B.C.

Lamberg-Karlovsky first found the mound, which is 65 feet high and 600 feet wide, in the summer of 1966 and began exploratory diggings with his group the following summer. It was not until last summer, however, that major discoveries were made.

Evidence which led Lamberg-Karlovsky to believe that he had indeed found Carmania included the discovery of elephant teeth in the top of the mound. Elephants are uncommon to Persia but were regularly used by Alexander for military transportation.

The discovery of the Neolithic community upset earlier theories, which held that Neolithic man had never ventured into such inhospitable surroundings. The Neolithic ruins are surrounded by the remnants of a huge wall, 7 feet high and 20 feet thick.

In one of the series of tiny chambers that the Harvard diggers uncovered behind the wall they found a slightly damaged ten-inch statue of a fertility goddess, which Lamberg-Karlovsky predicts will be considered in five years "as a prize example of primitive sculpture."

Agricultural Tools

The team also unearthed agricultural tools amidst the Neolithic relics. This discovery is important, according to Lamberg-Karlovsky, "because until now it was believed that the expansion of the agricultural community, which marks the beginning of the so-called civilized man, was originally limited to Iraq."

Members of the team included grad students Richard Meadow (who found the statue), Jane Britton, James Humphrey, Arthur Bankoff, and Bankoff's wife, and senior Peter Dane.

The expedition was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation in cooperation with Harvard.

Lamberg-Karlovsky plans to return to Tepe Yahya with an expanded staff next summer. He intends to concentrate on the Neolithic part of the mound.

"We have to clarify the nature of the wall surrounding the Neolithic community," he said yesterday, "and try to understand its remarkably well-preserved architecture."

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