Tombs of Mede priests found in Qom Province

Two tombs of the Mede people have been discovered 500 meters from a stone religious site in Qom province named Zarbolagh. Evidence found in the tombs has made the experts relate them to Mede Mithraist priests.

The two discovered tombs apparently date back to the Iron Age. Usually these are filled with ritual offerings buried alongside the dead, but no burial objects or pottery remains, except for two unique bronze bracelets with snake heads at each end on the corpse’s left hands, have been found in the tombs.

The stone graveyard of Zarbolagh, where the tombs have been uncovered, is located 75 kilometers out of Tehran toward Qom and is one of the interesting archaeological sites of Iran. Excavations carried out so far on the site have helped discover a stone religious monument dating back to the Medes time.

According to head of the excavation team of Zarbolagh, Mehrdad Malekzadeh, smugglers had previously looted some of the tombs of the site, but had left no pot sherds around the tombs. Amazed, the archaeologists dug another rocky area of the site to carry out their own studies.

In a depth of 2 meters, the two tomb stones dating to the Iron Age were discovered, but several differences were identified between these two and others of the era. “Unlike other Iron Age tombs, no free space or remains of soil have been found in between the skeleton and the tomb stone,” explained Malekzadeh, adding that just a thin layer of ashes remaining of plants have been found there most probably put there to prevent the direct contact of the stone with the corpse.

According to Malekzadeh, the location of the tombs inside rocks is proof of the importance of the tomb owners because their people had gone through so much trouble to give them an acceptable burial place, and the fact that nothing was buried alongside the dead has led the experts to identify their owners of unworldly people.

Animals such as snakes, ants, and scorpions are considered devilish in Zoroastrianism, but in Mithraism which was the faith of the Mede people, snakes were sacred respected animals, therefore the skeletons are believed to be of Mithraist Mede priests.

The Medes were an Iranian people of Indo-Iranian origin who lived in the western and north-western portion of present-day Iran. By the 6th century BC (prior to the Persian invasion) the Medes were able to establish an empire that stretched from Aran (the modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan) to Central Asia and Afghanistan. The Kurds of today consider themselves to be descended from the ancient Medes.