WAR KABUD, an archeological site to the north of Čavār in Ilām Province (Pošt-e kuh, Lorestān). Two hundred and three individual tombs of a large plundered graveyard (more than 1,000 tombs estimated to have been plundered) were excavated in 1965 and 1966 by the Belgian Archaeological Mission in Iran, directed by Louis Vanden Berghe (Ghent University, Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels; FIGURE 1). Fifty tombs were excavated in the plundered area and one hundred fifty-three in two rectangular plots (961 sq. meters). They all date to the Iron Age III (ca. 800/750-600 BCE), a distinct cultural phase in the Pošt-e kuh known also from graveyards at Gol Ḵānān Morda (Gul Khanan Murdah), Čamzi Muma, and Jub-e Gowhar (Vanden Berghe, 1987; Haerinck and Overlaet 1998, 1999 and 2004). War Kabud is the largest Iron Age III graveyard reported from the area.

Various types of tombs were found, simple pit tombs usually covered with horizontal stone slabs, pit tombs with the deceased and the burial goods covered by slanting stone slabs, and cist tombs with one to four stone walls and cap stones. Stone circles, stones with a small central depression and pillar shaped stones (probably to be seen as headstones), were sometimes found up to 0.50 m above the tombs. The burial goods include pottery (46%), bronze and iron objects, flint arrowheads, shells, beads, some cylinder seals and a scarab (FIGURE 2).

Most of the pottery is common ware. Diagnostic shapes are jugs and teapots with tubular spout and vertical and/or basket-handle. Also characteristic for the Pošt-e kuh Iron Age III is the fine grey ware (27% of the pottery), and the fine buff ware (8%). This fine ware is often decorated with incised geometric patterns, usually hatched triangles that allows a comparison with the Baba Jan III (Piškuh, Lorestān) painted ware (cf. Goff, fig. 1-9). Exceptional is one bull shaped fine grey ware vessel similar to five from Jub-e Gowhar. Four glazed vessels, probably Assyrian imports, were also recorded.

Iron was used for weapons such as arrowheads, daggers, swords (some with bronze mountings), spearheads, and axes, as well as for elbow fibulae. Bronze was used for jewelry (rings, pins, fibulae, bracelets, and anklets), decorative items (quiver plate), vessels, and specific types of armament (mace-heads, decorated axe-adze). A bimetallic mace-head had an iron core and a cast-on socket. Silver and gold was only used in small quantities for jewelry (earrings, nose rings, hair-coils, beads). One female tomb contained two frit/faience cylinder seals and one frit/faience scarab, probably of Assyrian or North-Syrian manufacture.

Among the exceptional finds are a bronze quiver plate with geometric decorations and a bronze cup or pyxis, decorated with a fortress and winged composite creatures with a scorpion’s tail. Bronze vessels were altogether common in the Pošt-e kuh Iron Age III. A characteristic local shape is the “ink-well” vessel of which seven were found at War Kabud.

Above the tombs, at the level of the headstones, a group of bronze and iron horse trappings was discovered. It includes bronze phalera, buttons, rings, bronze bells with iron clappers, an iron stake, and an iron horse-bit with twisted canons and curved cheek pieces.


Clare Goff, “Excavations at Baba Jan: The Pottery and Metal from Levels III and II,” Iran 16, 1978, pp. 29-65.

Ernie Haerinck and Bruno Overlaet, Chamahzi Mumah: An Iron Age III Graveyard, Luristan excavation documents 2, Acta Iranica 33, Leuven, 1998.

Idem, Djub-i Gauhar and Gul Khanan Murdah: Iron Age III Graveyards in the Aivan Plain, Luristan excavation documents 3, Acta Iranica 36, Leuven, 1999.

Idem, The Iron Age III Graveyard at War Kabud, Pusht-i Kuh, Luristan, Luristan excavation documents 5, Acta Iranica 42, Leuven, 2004.

Louis Vanden Berghe, Het archeologisch onderzoek naar de Bronscultuur van Luristan: Opgravingen in Pusht-i Kuh I. Kalwali en War Kabud (1965 en 1966), Verhandelingen van de Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie voor Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schone Kunsten van België, Klasse der Letteren, jaargang 30/64, Brussel, 1968 (with abstract in French).

Idem, “Les pratiques funéraires à l’âge du Fer III au Pusht-i Kuh, Luristan: les nécropoles žgenre War Kabud’,” Iranica Antiqua 32, 1987, pp. 201-66.

August 23, 2006

(Bruno Overlaet)

Originally Published: November 15, 2006

Last Updated: November 15, 2006