The Joint Expedition to Persia

Originally Published in 1934

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A BRIEF report has been received from Dr. Erich F. Schmidt, field director of the Joint Expedition to Ray of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Mrs. William Boyce Thompson Foundation of the University Museum. Starting at a point of minor importance, so that the staff might become accustomed to the requirements of the site, interesting finds were, nonetheless, soon forthcoming.

Many coins scattered around the ground
Plate I — Gold Coins of Seljuk Kings In Situ at Ray, Persia

The gold coins shown in situ in Plate I are some of a group of one hundred and seven which had been minted by the Seljuk rulers of Iraq about A. D. 1150, and which had been, perhaps, buried before the arrival of the Mongols, who destroyed the town in 1220. Other coins, of copper, give dates from the eighth to the thirteenth century.

Artistically the most striking find, so far, is an exquisite gypsum plaque, of Sasanian type but Islamic origin, picturing in relief a duck struck by a falcon. The pottery has been rather plain, but a few beautiful fragments give promise of m any examples of the famous ‘Ray Ceramics’ still to be disclosed.

A development of no little importance is the creation by the Persian Government of several National Monuments comprised of the centers of the ruin territory at Ray. This action will assure government supervision of the land and affords a gratifying recognition of the great importance of the site.

The possibilities of the site are so vast that it is impossible to give more than a bare outline of the tasks confronting the expedition. Detachments of the expedition’s forces will sound all interesting spots and the immense city territory will be combed. In the citadel will be determined the successive fortifications of the acropolis of Ray. In the ‘governmental district,’ low elevations partially covered with thousands of stucco fragments mark the sites of important buildings of the Islamic and, possibly, the pre-Islamic epochs. At Cheshmeh Ali, awaiting excavation are an impressive series of superimposed prehistoric strata with beautiful ceramics decorated with conventionalized patterns of animals and human beings-attested by the hundreds of sherds already found in a rather inconspicuous, shallow section of this mound. Seljuk graves may be looked for on the slope of Naghareh Khaneh; on the same slope the remains of an impressive tomb construction may be that of a Seljuk king. Thus, the first season of excavation can hardly do more than show the possibilities of the site, and a realization of these possibilities may confidently be expected to reward the expedition through many seasons to come.

View of an excavation pit being worked in, tents in the background
Plate IX — Excavations at Ray, Persia. The X Marks a Hoard of Gold Coins

Cite This Article

"The Joint Expedition to Persia." Museum Bulletin V, no. 3 (May, 1934): 86-87. Accessed July 23, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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