5,000-year-old artificial eyeball found in Iran

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ROME -- A 5,000-year-old golden artificial eye that once stared out mesmerisingly from the face of a female soothsayer or priestess in ancient Persia has been unearthed by Iranian and Italian archaeologists.

The eyeball —- the earliest artificial eye found -— would have transfixed those who saw it, convincing them that the woman —- thought to have been strikingly tall —- had occult powers and could see into the future, archaeologists said.

It was found by Mansour Sajjadi, leader of the Iranian team, which has been excavating an ancient necropolis at Shahr-i-Sokhta in the Sistan desert on the Iranian-Afghan border for nine years...

They said the eyeball consisted of a half-sphere with a diameter of just over an inch. It was made of a lightweight material thought to be derived from bitumen paste. Its surface was meticulously engraved with a pattern consisting of a central circle for the iris and gold lines “like rays of light”...On either side of it two tiny holes had been drilled, through which a fine thread, perhaps also gold, had held the eyeball in place.

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