Nowadays, the Iron Age Museum is one of the most important archeological sites in Tabriz and in the world. The Iron Age Museum is a must see for anyone who is interested in travelling through the time and discovering the history and religion of people who lived in Iron age and laid here restfully forever.
Until 1997, the only archeological excavation in Tabriz were conducted by Charles Berney in 1968. Before that time, the history of the city were only based on Assyrian texts and Armenian inscriptions. In 1997, during an excavation in the northeastern side of the Blue Mosque (also known as Kabood Mosque), an ancient burial cemetery were discovered which belonged to an iron age for about 3000 to 3500 thousand years ago. Afterward, the site drew the attention of many historians and archeologists who conducted several seasonal excavations in the area. The iron museum was formally established in 2006 and was open to public.
Nowadays, the Iron Age Museum is one of the most important archeological sites in Tabriz and in the world. The Iron Age Museum is a must see for anyone who is interested in travelling through the time and discovering the history and religion of the people who lived in Iron age and laid here restfully forever. Therefore, visiting this ancient site should be included in any Iran Tours or Tabriz Tours.
The Burial Site of the Iron Age Museum
Covering an area of 3000 hectares, the Iron Age Museum holds about 38 graves full of human skeletons along with some metal objects and potteries buried with them. All the graves are in three forms of simple grave, circle and shoe horse shapes. Moreover the level and the depth of the graves are not equal which indicates the graveyard were in a shape of a valley in the past.
The excavation done in the Iron Age Museum released some insight about the belief of ancient people in the Iron Age. For example, the ancient people put some objects and food beside the corpses which is the sign of their belief in the afterlife. The children were buried with their toys and beards of domestic animals. The teenagers were buried with two potteries while elder people were buried with different objects based on their age, gender and social rank. Accordingly, the women were buried with their jewelries and the men with their war weapons. Also those who had higher social rank were buried with more objects with them.
The position and direction of the dead bodies also showed the belief of those people in Mithraism (worshiping the Mithra, the god of the sun in pre-Zoroastrianism). For example if one was dead between the sunrise and the noon he would be buried with his head in the east and his foot in the west direction. While if he was dead between the noon and the sunset his burial position would be in the west-east direction. Interestingly, most of the burial positions in this cemetery are in the first position meaning the east- west direction. Rather than that, women were laid on their left side and men were laid on their right side with their face northward in all graves. In most graves, the hands of the corps were put on the breast, which may be a sign of respect for an unknown creature.
Besides that most of the dead bodies were laid in foetus position which was common to the prehistoric era. Other archaeological investigations showed that the average age of women who were buried in this cemetery was between 20 to 40 years and the average age of men was between 40 and 60 years old. Probably the early death of these people was due to the specific fatal disease at that time. Also the abnormal size of the skull of children was a sign of their disease during the Iron Age.
Another interesting point about this graveyard is that, most of the people in this cemetery were buried individually except for one grave which holds the bodies of a young man and women lying face to face. Their skeleton has now been transformed to the Azerbaijan Museum, the second important ancient museum in Tabriz, near the Iron Age Museum.
The remarkable issue about this cemetery is the second burial of a number of dead bodies. It represents the importance and sanctity of this graveyard in the past, where the nomadic tribal removed the body of their relatives to this place. Probably this replacement might have led to the corruption of the skeletons during their journey to this burial site.
The excavation of this cemetery were done in 3 phases through which 28 geological layers were identified. After the surface layer was excavated, some potteries belonging to Qajar, Safavid, and Timurid, Ilkhani and Seljuk era were discovered. Almost in the 28th layer, the objects related to the Iron Age such as pale, red pottery, gray pottery, drinking jar, agate, limestone and turquoise beads were discovered. Some of these objects are kept in the Iron Age Museum for display and the rest has been transformed to the Azerbaijan Museum.
There has been no investigation done regarding the culture of the Iron Age people in this cemetery. However the pottery objects found here are much similar to those found in Tape Hasanlu in Urmia. Moreover the jewelries and accessories were also found to be very similar to Yanigh Tape in the outskirt of Azerbaijan. This can be a sing of some kinds of cultural interactions between those regions in the past.
Preservation in the Iron Age Cemetery
Iron Age is one of the most amazing museums in the country. However, it is not well preserved due to the lack of proper amenities and equipment. There is no security camera nor a tour guide in this ancient museum and access to this museum is not in a good state. Besides that the skeletons and the objects are very sensitive to dampness and fugal growth. Although, some precautions has been done in this cemetery to keep the skeletons from corruption, more measurement is needed to be done here to protect this delicate fragile museum.
The nearest attractions to the Iron Age Museum
The Museum of Iron Age is in proximity to the Blue Mosque and the Azerbaijan Museum. These three attractions form one of the most attractive Tabriz Tours around the city.
The opening hours of the Iron Museum
The opening hour of the Iron Age Museum is from 9 A.M to 3 P.M (spring), 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. and from 4 P.M. to 8 P.M. (summer) and from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M. (winter). The museum is closed on Mondays.