One of the most important recent discoveries in this valley has been that of the second to first millennium B.C.royal necropolis of Marlik, dug by professor Ezzatollah Negahban for the Iranian Archaeological Service in 1961 and 1962. (other important sites here include Zainab Bijar, Dura Bijar,Pileh Qaleh and, close to Marlik, Jazim Kul.)
Marlik, Locally know as Cheragh Ali Tepe, has the appearance of a natural hill, its crown being 135m. long and 80m. wide and covered with olive trees. But when Professor Negahban excavated it he discovered the burial mound of a vanished civilization whose existence had never even been suspected, and with priceless treasures including beautifully worked gold and silver vessels,now in the Tehran Museum.
Like many other tepes in these valleys, Marlik had been looted by antique hunters and illegal diggers. Some fifty-three roughly constructed tomb chambers were excavated, some with altars for funerary offerings, and hearths, occupying the single archaeological layer where the dead had been buried over a period of two to three centuries. The tombs were of four types, the first consisting of large,irregularly shaped rooms averaging 5m×3m., whose funerary furnishings of bronze weapons appeared to be those of the tombs of warriors or warrior kings.
The second type was smaller and rectangular, probably housing queens and royal princes, with delicate ornaments, gold jewellery and bronze and terracotta figurines. The third type was roughly 3m. square, more carefully constructed than the others, but with fewer funerary object and probably belonging to the earlier as yet undeveloped period of the Marlik culture. The last type, about 1m×2m., contained the remains of horses and was constructed of boulders, usually adjoining the tombs of their presumed owners. Bronze hourse-bits and loops found here indicate the sacrifice of a horse that was to provide its dead owner with a mount in the next life.
The inscription on one two cylinder seals was probably contemporary with the mid Assyrian period, 1250-833 B.C., while a comparative study of other objects seems to professor Negahban to show that the Marlik culture influenced the craftsmen whose works were found in sialk Cemetery B,Ziwiyeh, Hasanlu, Kelardasht, Khurvin and several Lorestan and Caucasian sites. Such Assyrian motifs as the Tree of Life, winged bulls and griffins, and mountain goats eating the leaves of the Tree of life, are all used on Marlik vessels. Marlik potters and goldsmiths were part of an artistic school that influenced an area embracing northern, western and central Iran and the art of Urartu, and the Neo-Assyrian, Median and Achaemenian arts. Behind this culture was the strong political power of Marlik which can be associated with the arrival of new Indo-European elements.Probably with the beginning of the first millennium B.C. Marlik began to decline, its people driven by pressure from western states to the central Iranian plateau, where they left their cultural evidence. Like other sites in the area, Marlik today is overgrown and has little to show the visitor.