Archaeological studies of Mineral bitumen play an important role in recognizing the economic, social and cultural history of antiquity.
According to the ancient texts of ancient Iran, the word oil is derived from the word penta in Avesta.
Archaeological excavations show that the inhabitants of the Iranian plateau have been familiar with oil and mineral bitumen since about seven thousand years BC.
The first civilization to become acquainted with bitumen was the ancient Sumerian civilization, whose people used it to seal their towers in 4000 BC. Later, the Egyptians and Babylonians also used bitumen.
Therefore, how to use this natural raw material and the extent of its impact on the material, cultural, political, religious and economic effects of Iranian societies in the period is important.
The ancient period from the rule of the Elamites to the Sassanid period contains an important part of the developments of ancient times.
A study of how in this historical period can reveal important points about the use of mineral bitumen in Iran. Most of the bitumen works obtained in Iran belong to the Ilam and later Achaemenid civilizations.
In prehistoric and historical Iran, the use of bitumen and natural oil has been very common in the Middle East.
This material has a special composition that has been used to prevent the infiltration of water in a wide range of objects such as water pipes, boats, baths, seals and weapons.
It was even used for therapeutic purposes and to protect organic and food materials from bacterial damage in hot and humid environments.
It was also used to glue broken pieces of pottery as well as mortar between bricks.
From the beginning of the third millennium to the middle of the first millennium BC, the Elamite empire covered a large part of the western and southern regions of present-day Iran.
The people of Susa at that time used bitumen for various purposes. The use of bitumen had medical applications up to construction and decorative and even religious uses.
What we know as Madi fire (Madi = Persian) and it has been referred to in ancient history, the same
There were oil fireballs in the possession of the Iranian army.
Among the first bituminous compositions of the ancient Iranians, we can mention a religious symbol that is kept in a cylindrical shape in the Louvre Museum in France.
This cylindrical object was 19 cm high and 11 cm in diameter and was discovered in 1908 in the hills near Susa.
Several gazelles, cats and eagles with open wings are carved on this cylinder. These symbols, which were sacred at the time, were used in religious ceremonies.
Other findings of that period include bitumen inscriptions that were made around Susa in 2450 BC.
This inscription is 25 cm high, 22 cm wide and 8 cm thick and was discovered in 1877 and kept in the Louvre Museum.
Various animal and human motifs have been engraved on this inscription. This inscription is quadrangular and there is a hole in the center.
Similar to this type of inscription was common at that time and 120 examples of it have been discovered in Syria and Iraq.
Since most of these inscriptions are found in temples, it reinforces the idea that the above design was also sacred and used in religious ceremonies.
The Iranians also used bitumen to build roads.
Among which we can mention the construction of parts of the “Royal Road”.
It was built in the 5th century BC by order of Darius I (Achaemenid king) from Susa to Sardis (near Izmir, Turkey, which was then part of Iran).
This road with a length of 2700 km was the most important means of communication between the big cities of that time, which continued after Susa to Persepolis and can be considered as the first bitumen road in the world.
The quality of this road was so high that the courier couriers covered the entire distance in seven days.
In the construction of this road as well as other inner city roads in the big cities of that time, including Babylon, natural bitumen, stone and brick were used.
Another important road that was built in Babylon with bitumen is the “Holy Road”.
The road that connected the temples around Babylon was paved with bitumen and paved with pieces of stone and red brick.
So that kings and priests can go through these ways to perform religious ceremonies without getting their feet infected.
Among other applications of bitumen in ancient Iran, we can mention its therapeutic applications.
Doctors at the time considered bitumen to be a healing medicine that could cure many diseases.
Abolghasem Estakhri, one of the writers of the third century AH, says about the therapeutic effect of bitumen:
“Mummy” bitumen “is found in a cave in Darabgard in Fars province. And its healing power is so valuable that a guard always watches over the cave.
“The mummy is collected in a stone container once a year and taken to the governor of the province.”
It is interesting that the people of Persia are still using this medicine. They make ointments by mixing bitumen and animal oil.
This substance is used in the treatment of muscle pain and rheumatism and is used to relieve gout pain and fractures.
They also know this medicine as “mummy”. There were also natural bitumen mines near Jahrom city in Fars province.
The people of that time used this substance which was called “mummy” or drainage, in the treatment of wounds and fractures.