Some 5,200 years ago, in the mountains of western Iran, people may have used takeout windows to get food and weapons, newly presented research suggests.
But rather than the greasy hamburgers and fries, it appears the inhabitants of the site ordered up goat, grain and even bullets, among other items.
The find was made at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site that was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, who died in 2006.
A team of researchers took up his work after he died and recently published the results of the excavation, along with more recent research on the artifacts, in the book "On the High Road: The History of Godin Tepe" (Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell Rothman, Mazda Publishers, 2011). In addition a symposium was held recently where the takeout windows, among other research finds at Godin Tepe, were discussed.
The idea that they were used as takeout windows was first proposed by Cuyler Young and is based mainly on their height and location beside the central courtyard.
The windows could have been used by ordinary individuals or perhaps by soldiers "driving through" to grab some food, or even weapons. [See images of the ancient takeout windows]
The research shows that Godin Tepe started out, in prehistoric times, as a simple settlement. "For about 1,000 years the mound of Godin was occupied by a small village of farmers and shepherds," said Hilary Gopnik of Emory University, at a recent symposium at the Royal Ontario Museum.
That changed quickly. "Sometime in about 3,200 B.C. somebody razed those houses and built this oval enclosure," Gopnik said. The mud-brick structure had a central courtyard surrounded by buildings, including one particularly prominent structure with two windows.
"The windows and the walls of the main building are very unusual for architecture of this period, and they've been interpreted as a kind of takeout window," Gopnik said.
Inside the building, researchers discovered beveled-rimmed bowls (a pot type found throughout the Middle East), food remains, a fireplace and 1,759 sun-dried clay sling bullets, a weapon used for warfare and hunting. Clay tablets were also found within the structure.
"As far as I know, that is the only example of those odd, framing windows. We don't usually find windows at all," in the Middle East, Gopnik told LiveScience.
Clemens Reichel, a curator at the museum, said that while archaeologists do find openings that may have been air vents or cubby holes, windows are rare and are hard to identify.
"Dr. Gopnik is completely right in stating that attested windows in mud-brick architecture are rare. But it takes an experienced archaeologist to recognize an opening in a mud-brick wall — you have to be able to see the difference between mud-brick and compacted debris in such a cavity, and that can be very difficult," Reichel told LiveScience in an email.
Sling bullet with your food?
If these windows were used for takeout, what exactly was served?
A wide variety of food remains have been found at Godin Tepe. "There [were] lentils, there was goat bone, sheep bone, there was also beer and wine," Gopnik said. "We think those beveled-rimmed bowls were used for rations of grain."
As for a "drive-thru" spirits store, Gopnik said, "people have suggested that maybe they were delivering rations of beer, [but] that seems a little far-fetched."...MORE
Sunday, October 30, 2011
"Beer & Bullets to Go: Ancient 'Takeout' Window Discovered"