TEHRAN – A collection of rare Mannaean bricks, which date back some 2700 years, has been put on show at the Urmia Museum of Archaeology in northwest Iran.
“49 pieces of Qalaichi glazed bricks are currently on show at the Urmia Museum of Archaeology, ” the tourism chief of West Azarbaijan province said on Wednesday.
Excavated from Tepe Qalaichi, a Mannaean settlement in Bukan, the bricks were looted and smuggled out of Iran some four decades ago.
According to The Art Newspaper, the smuggled relics were recovered from a warehouse in Switzerland. Bearing images of various sphinxes, animals, and other motifs, the bricks were returned home from Switzerland last year.
In the 1970s, a farmer plowing at Qalaichi came across a decorated brick, probably from the columned hall of its citadel. This discovery led to extremely damaging illegal excavations, partly using a bulldozer.
Eventually, in 1985, there was an official rescue excavation, but this was quickly abandoned because of the intensification of the Iran-Iraq war. There were then 14 more years of illegal digging until 1999 when there was another official excavation. However, by this time, only small fragments of broken bricks were found.
Mannai civilization flourished in northwestern Iran in the 1st millennium BC. Mannai, also called Manna, was an ancient country surrounded by three major powers of the time, namely Assyria, Urartu, and Media. Qalaichi’s archaeological site was once part of the Mannaean capital.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Mannaeans are first recorded in the annals of the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (reigned 858–824 BC) and are last mentioned in Urartu by Rusa II (reigned 685–645 BC) and in Assyria by Esarhaddon (reigned 680–669 BC). With the intrusion of the Scythians and the rise of the Medes in the 7th century, the Manneans lost their identity and were subsumed under the term Medes.
Original News : https://www.tehrantimes.com/news/475122/2-700-year-old-bricks-on-view-at-Urmia-Museum-of-Archaeology