The royal gold of Marlik Tepe….
Beneath the mound of Marlik, in northern Iran, a king has guarded his treasure, and his secrets, for over three thousand years. From what was apparently a royal cemetery of a kingdom of the early first millenium B.C. , the remains of a previously unknown people have emerged. A rich gold trove of jewelry, cups, and vases in fine relief were unearthed, along with highly stylized bronze and pottery animal figurines. The greatest surprise to scholars was the sophistication of these objects, found so far to the east of Azerbaijan, where before there was no reason to believe that, at that time, a culture of such distinction existed.
Marilk Tepe lies in the Gilan area of Iran betwen the Elburz mountain range and the southern shore of the Caspian sea. The mild climate and plentiful rainfall must have offered Marlik’s earliest dwellers a land of rich and inviting fertility.
Who were the Marlik people? Were they natives to the land, or one of the successive waves of Aryans who began to sweep down from Russia as early as the third millenium B.C.? What kind of society did they live in? Starting with this last question, archaeologists have constructed a picture of this puzzling complexity. Cooking and milking pots, ladles, razors, and tweezers suggest a peaceful domestic scene, yet short swords and daggers, a bow and over three thousand bronze arrowheads, some with double barbs, tell another less pastoral narrative. Were the inhabitants warriors or merely able to defend themselves against invaders?
An unusual aspect of the Marlik mound is the fact that only one cultural mound is found there. From the site four types of tombs were found there, and in all of them the construction was fairly simple and straightforward; very much in contrast to the extraordinary gold, bronze and silver objects placed in them.