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Parthia in the News - 2007

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2007

Discovery of 57 Historical and Pre-Historical Settlements in Ramiyan (26 Dec 2007)
Islamic Regime have Finally Destroyed 2200-year-old Parthian Bridge of Khoda-Afarid (Negin) (8 Dec 2007)
Discovery of Four Parthian Foetuses in Ardebil Province (5 Dec 2007)
Two Pahlavi inscriptions identified in Central Province (5 Dec 2007)
Traces of ancient fire discovered at Pasargadae (27 Nov 2007)
Parthian Yazdgerd Castle to be Excavated (21 Nov 2007)
Two Sasanian-Pahlavi Inscriptions Discovered in Kohan-Dedz (15 Nov 2007)
Bam Citadel Under Emergency Restoration (1 Nov 2007)
Salt Men to Undergo Surgery (30 Oct 2007)
8000-Year-Old Settlement Discovered behind Galabar Dam (20 Oct 2007)
Oil exploration destroys ancient sites in Seimareh Dam reservoir area (17 Oct 2007)
Remains of a Parthian Fort Discovered in Malayer (5 Oct 2007)
Seimareh Dam reservoir conceals archaeological goldmine (25 Sep 2007)
3000-year-old graves discovered at Galabar Dam reservoir (22 Sep 2007)
30 Parthian-Sasanian Sites Discovered near Gorgan Wall (15 Sep 2007)
Roads of time converge in Bolaghi Valley (10 Sep 2007)
Piping peace and prosperity to South Asia (2 Sep 2007)
Seimareh Dam Reservoir Devours 100 Archaeological Sites (25 Aug 2007)
28 Parthian and Sasanian Sites Identified in Golestan (22 Aug 2007)
Discovery of a Parthian Canal by Gorgan's Great Wall (22 Aug 2007)
Sixteenth Fort Discovered at Gorgan's Ancient Great Wall (21 Auf 2007)
Islamic Republic Demolished Parthian Bridge of Negin (20 Aug 2007)
Two Further Fortresses Identified on Path of Gorgan’s Wall (18 Aug)
Parts of Tamisheh Wall Discovered in Gulf of Gorgan (12 Aug 2007)
Identifying of number of post-Achaemenid Sites in Sistan Plain (11 Aug 2007)
Identification of a Parthian and Three Post-Sasanian Cities in Sistan (6 Aug 2007)
Partho-Sasanian Sites of Abyaneh are in Danger (4 Aug 2007)
Experts to Examine New Ways to Save Salt Men (24 Jul 2007)
Discovered Parthian artifacts from Guri-Kohneh Mound are being classified (16 Jul 2007)
Fifty Six Pre-Islamic Graves Discovered behind Salman-e Farsi Dam (3 Jul 2007)
Parthian Fortresses of Nisa Inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List (29 Jun 2007)
Discovery of a Secret Passageway Leading to Parthian Kalan Fortress (26 Jun 2007)
Discovery of Pre-Historic Cemetery in Zanjan (23 Jun 2007)
New Season of Archaeological Research at Partho-Sasanian Site of Valiran (18 Jun 2007)
Earth is Best Trustee for Sixth Salt Man: Expert (11 Jun 2007)
Discovery of a Parthian Fortress behind Gelabar Dam (9 Jun 2007)
Sixth Salt Man Discovered in Chehr-Abad Mine (4 Jun 2007)
Archaeologists have Discovered Ancient Mudbrick-Footpath in Ramhormoz (31 May 2007)
Ambiguous Fate of Ramhormoz Treasury (21 May 2007)
Pre-Islamic Agricultural System Discovered at Korbaldasht (21 May 2007)
Another catastrophe descends on cultural heritage in Hamedan Province (17 Apr 2007)
Achaemenid walls unearthed in northern Pasargadae (12 Mar 2007)
Remains of a Parthian Fire Temple Discovered in Yazd (14 Feb 2007)
Efforts to Preserve Zanjan Saltmen (7 Feb 2007)
Experts Studying Achaemenid and Parthian Fabrics (31 Jan 2007)
Archaeologists Wrap Up another Season of Excavation at Parthian site of Valiran (20 Jan 2007)
Ecbatana Hill Confirmed to an Arsacid Site: Azarnoush (16 Jan 2007)
New Moves to Film the Partho-Sasanian Shipwreck in the Persian Gulf (15 Jan 2007)
 


Discovery of 57 Historical and Pre-Historical Settlements in Ramiyan

London, 26 Dec 2007 (CAIS)

Mohammad Mehdi Borhani, director of archaeological research team in Ramiyan announced the news of discovery of 57 historical and pre-historical settlements and mounds in this area by his team.

According to Borhani, his team discovered these sites while they were working on the new Archaeological Map of Iran.

These archaeological mounds and settlements are date back to 4000 BCE to post-Sasanian era.

Ramiyan District is located in Golestan Province, in Northeast of Iran near the Sea of Mazandaran (Caspian). (read full story)


Islamic Regime have Finally Destroyed 2200-year-old Parthian Bridge of Khoda-Afarid (Negin)

London, 8 Dec 2007 (CAIS)

Islamic regime's authority have destroyed the remains of 2200-year-old Khoda-Afarid bridge also known as Negin, in Shiniyar district of Masjed-Soleyman in Khuzestan province.

The destruction of the bridge was began in September under the guise of construction of a new bridge, and despite all the oppositions from cultural figures and the Iranian nation, the Khuzestan Governor office went ahead and removed the last stone of the ancient bridge.

The ancient bridge of Khoda-Afarid (Xodā-āfarīd) which is known to local Bakhtiari population known as Negin, was one of the best preserved and intact bridges of its type remained in Iran-proper from Arsacid dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE).

"The 60 meters in length was the best survived Parthian water engineering example in the country, which was demolished despite the 100-meter legal protection boundary, imposed by Khuzestan Province Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization [KCHTO]" said Mojtaba Gahstooni, the spokesman for the Khusestan's Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association (Tariana) in September 2007.

Since 1979 and the rise of Islamic regime to power, the ruling clerics have been devoted themselves to destroy and erase all the pre-Islamic Iranian culture and civilisation, under the guise of construction projects. Since then, the regime have destroyed large number of major cultural landmarks associated with the ancient Iranian civilisation. (read full story)


Discovery of Four Parthian Foetuses in Ardebil Province 

London, 5 Dec 2007 (CAIS)

Iranian archaeologists have found four buried foetuses dating back to 2200 years ago in the country's northwestern Province of Ardebil.

The skeletons, which were found in an ancient castle are intact and belong to the ancient Parthian era (248 BCE - 224 CE).

The excavations also revealed three ceramic dishes, a number of beads, and 150 stone graves from the Middle Bronze Age (4,000 years ago) and the Metal Age (2,800 years ago).

Ardebil Province (ancient Artavilla) is famous for its ancient history, beautiful natural scenery, old bazaars, churches and mineral springs. (read full story)


Two Pahlavi inscriptions identified in Central Province

Tehran, 5 Dec 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of experts has identified two Pahlavi inscriptions on rocks in the Teimareh region near the city of Khomein in Central Province.

The experts surmise that the Middle Persian inscriptions are at least 1500 years old and thus date back to the Sassanid or Parthian era.

The inscriptions have been examined by Iranian Pahlavi language expert Feriedun Joneidi, team director Mohammad Nasserifard told the Persian service of IRNA on Wednesday.

"One of the artifacts bears a word and images of three ibexes above it, and the word means 'king', according to Dr. Joneidi," he said.

"Perhaps the creator of the inscription carved the images of ibexes -- which symbolized angels in Iran during ancient times -- to safeguard the king," he explained.

"Or maybe the creator engraved the ibexes -- which also used to represent the angel of water, fecundity, and abundance -- as an appeal for water and natural abundance," he added.

The other inscription bears 27 images, 23 of which are ibexes. Nasserifard did not give any other details about this discovery. (read full story)


Parthian Yazdgerd Castle to be Excavated

London, 21 Nov 2007 (CAIS)

Iran is conducting archaeological excavations at the historical Yazdgerd Castle site for the first time since 1979.

The Yazdgerd Castle was first excavated by Edward Keal of Toronto Royal Ontario Museum, who found a collection of artistic symbols, dating back to the third Iranian dynasty, the Parthians (248 BCe-224 CE).

Keal also discovered an ancient city with strikingly decorated palaces, bastions, and temples.

Yazdgerd Castle, located in Western Kermanshah Province, overlooks the ancient Silk Road.

The two-month excavation project led by the famous Iranian archaeologist, Dr. Masoud Azarnoush, will start on Nov. 21st, 2007. (read full story)


Traces of ancient fire discovered at Pasargadae

Tehran, 27 Nov 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

Traces of an ancient fire have been discovered at the Tall-e Takht fortress of Pasargadae by Hamid Golpira

Professor Pierfrancesco Callieri of the University of Bologna, the Italian leader of the Italian-Iranian joint archaeological team that recently concluded their excavations at the site, described their findings during an interview with the Tehran Times at the dig earlier this month.

Alireza Askari was the Iranian leader of the joint team, and Parsa-Pasargadae Research Foundation archaeologist Farhad Zarei was also a member.

Professor Pierfrancesco Callieri

 

 

Professor Pierfrancesco Callieri (front left) and some of his Italian compatriots (front) from the Italian-Iranian joint archaeological team at the section of the Tall-e Takht fortress of Pasargadae that they excavated this year

 

The team conducted a limited excavation of Tall-e Takht searching for ceramic works and details about the cultural sequence of everyday life from the Achaemenid to Parthian eras, Callieri explained.

The area the team studied was not found during the British Institute of Persian Studies excavations of 1961 to 1963, he said.

The Italian-Iranian archaeological team conducted excavations at Tall-e Takht during two seasons in 2006 and 2007, he added.

During a layer-by-layer stratigraphic excavation, a sequence of occupation phases from the Achaemenid to Parthian eras was detected, with some phases having structures and others just fireplaces and other features, he said.

The team also discovered a heap of ashes, indicating that there was a major fire at the site in ancient times, he added.

Section of the Tall-e Takht fortress

 

 

The Italian-Iranian joint archaeological team excavated this section of the Tall-e Takht fortress of Pasargadae this year.

The British Institute of Persian Studies archaeological team led by Professor David Stronach found traces of a fire during their 1961-1963 excavations which could be the same fire, Callieri stated.

Stronach said he believed the fire was not started by the Greeks but occurred around 200 BC during an uprising against the Seleucids by the local Pars aristocracy, who were trying to bring the Fratarakas (kings of Pars) back to power, Callieri said.

Pars was the original name of the area currently called Fars Province. The word Persia is derived from Pars and the inhabitants of Pars were the original Persians.

The uprising of the Pars aristocracy was successful, and they were able to establish an independent state that was not directly controlled by the Parthian Empire, but it seems that they paid tribute to the Parthians, Callieri explained.

Tall-e Takht is important for the history of Fars and Iran, he noted.

Tall-e Takht was established by Cyrus the Great as a ceremonial site, but Darius the Great converted it into a fortress, Callieri said.

An Achaemenid era settlement of commoners located below the fortress has never been excavated, he added.

Professor Callieri also worked on the first excavation ever of an Achaemenid era rural settlement during an earlier dig in the nearby Bolaghi Valley.  (read full story)


Two Sasanian-Pahlavi Inscriptions Discovered in Kohan-Dedz 

London, 15 Nov 2007 (CAIS)

Two Sasanian inscriptions written in Sasanian-Pahlavi (Middle Persian) language have been discovered in Kohan-Dedz historical site in northeastern Iran.

An Irano-French archaeology team has discovered two inscriptions written in Sasanian-Pahlavi language during the third phase of excavations in Kohan-Dedz.

One of the inscriptions is a clay piece which is adorned with four lines of scripts in Sasanian-Pahlavi language. The scripts, in black ink, have not yet been decoded.

The other piece is made of soapstone and is decorated with zebus and goats. The scripts are in Arsacid-Pahlavi and Sasanian-Pahlavi languages.

More information will be available once the translation of the scripts is completed.

Sasanian-Pahlavi also known as Middle-Persian was a successor to, and derived directly from, Old Persian. It has a multiplicity of Southwestern Iranian features. Gradually developing into a distinct idiom after the reign of Emperor Xerxes (r. 485-465 BCE). It became the official language of the Sasanian dynastic Empire (224-651CE) and as such was utilised in a noteworthy literature of Zoroastrian and also Manichean religious texts.

Following the Arab invasions of Iran in the seventh century Sasanian-Pahlavi developed into Classical and accordingly to Modern-Persian. (read full story)


Bam Citadel Under Emergency Restoration

London, 1 Nov 2007 (CAIS)

An Iranian-Italian archaeological team has started an emergency operation to restore one of the damaged bastions of Bam Citadel.

The Italian archaeologists will also prepare the final restoration plan of the bastion which will be submitted in a month and is to begin as soon as the plan is approved by Iranian officials.

Two thousand year old Bam Citadel (Arg-e-Bam) was constructed during the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE) and it is considered to be one of the biggest mud brick complexes in the world, which was severely damaged in the devastating earthquake of December 23rd, 2003.

In 2004, 'Bam and its Cultural Landscape' was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage in Danger List.

The earthquake revealed the citadel's older layers of mud brick structures, which hold a lot of archaeological interest. (read full story)


Salt Men to Undergo Surgery

London, 30 Oct 2007 (CAIS)

The Archaeology Research Center of Iran (ARCI) plans to conduct a series of surgical operations on the ancient salt men of Zanjan's Chehrabad Salt Mine, the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.

The project is being undertaken to complete archaeological studies and carry out other scientific research on the unique mummies, ARCI director Mohammad-Hassan Fazeli Nashli said.

The operations will be performed on the salt men's soft tissue and entrails, which have remained intact due to the high quality of the mummification, he added.

The project will be carried out in Iran and the ARCI proposes to invite foreign experts to take part if necessary, he noted.

Zanjan played host to Iranian and foreign experts at a two-day conference on the salt men, which took place October 25-26.

The First Salt Man, who is believed to have been approximately 35 years old when he died more than 1700 years ago, was discovered by workers at the salt mine in 1993.

Since then, five other salt men have been found -- although experts believe that the salt mine may contain many more mummies. However, it has been decided to leave any other mummified bodies to rest in peace due to the lack of equipment and technology necessary for their preservation in Iran.

The Sixth Salt Man was recently discovered, but it was re-covered and left in situ.

Fazeli Nashli said at the time of the discovery of the sixth mummy, that Iran is still a novice in the art of preservation and so it is better that it remains in the earth, which is its best trustee." (read full story)


8000-Year-Old Settlement Discovered behind Galabar Dam

London, 20 Oct 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeological excavations behind Galabar dam in Zanjan province ended after four and half month of continual efforts in the region. Discovering of more than 30 graves and burial gifts belonging to Chalcolithic (Copper) and Iron Ages, a number of architectural evidence ranging in date from Chalcolithic age to post-Sasanian period were among the most important achievements during salvation activities behind Galabar Dam.

Initially 16 and then further 8 graves have been identified in the cemeteries belonging to the third Iron Age I and III, discovered behind the dam. Additional 7 graves belonging to children buried in the floor of the houses during Chalcolithic age have been also discovered during archaeological excavations behind Galabar dam.

Announcing this news, Abolfazl Aali, head of salvation team behind Galabar dam explained that historical evidence show the settlement in the region since Chalcolithic age to the post-Sasanian periods.

Located on the path of Sajas River, archaeologists have succeeded in tracing three Iron Ages sites dating back to 3500 years ago, a historical site belonging to Chalcolithic age (some 8000 years ago), and a Parthian fortress.

According to Aali, two historic gaps can be seen regarding the residency of human beings in the region. One belonging to Bronze Age (third millennium BCE) and the other is related to Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE).

The inundation of Galabar dam started by the Islamic Republic on March 2007 without getting the approval of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Zanjan province. Soon after hearing the news, cultural heritage authorities informed about the possibility of existence of historical sites behind the dam and asked the authorities of the dam to give them the chance to conduct archaeological excavations behind the dam by stopping the inundation of the dam until the end of salvation project. However, all these prehistoric and historic evidence will submerge by inundation of the dam.

A fortress belonging to Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE) dynasty and post-Sasanian periods (651 AD afterwards) are once of the other prominent discoveries behind Galabar dam. The fortress will remain like as an island amid the reservoir after inundation of the dam. (read full story)


Oil exploration destroys ancient sites in Seimareh Dam reservoir area

Tehran, 17 Oct 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

A number of archaeological sites have recently been destroyed in the Seimareh Dam reservoir area during exploration activities by the National Iranian Oil Company.

However, Archaeology Research Center of Iran (ARCI) Director Mohammad-Hassan Fazeli Nashli denied reports that a permit for the operation was issued, the Persian service of CHN reported on Wednesday.

During a series of rescue excavations, a team of archaeologists has recently identified 100 ancient sites from various epochs, including the Neolithic, Bronze, and Copper ages and the Parthian, Sassanid, and early Islamic eras in the Seimareh Dam reservoir area in western Iran's Ilam Province.

Ilam Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department Director Fereidun Mohammadi has declined to give any explanation of the situation and bizarrely said that the region is located in the perimeter of Lorestan Province.

The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) will sue NIOC for damages if the destroyed sites were previously registered by the organization, CHTHO official Siavash Saberi said.

The Seimareh Dam, which has been constructed on the Seimareh River, is located 30 kilometers northwest of the city of Darehshahr. The filling of the dam has been scheduled to commence by the end of the Iranian calendar year (March 19, 2008).

Initial studies for the dam project began in the early 1970s and were completed in 1990. The double-arch dam has a concrete structure and a crest height of 180 meters above its lowest foundation.

ARCI Director Fazeli Nashli believes that the archaeological sites discovered in the Seimareh Dam reservoir area are more important than the ancient sites being devoured by the Sivand Dam in southern Iran's Fars Province.

Many Iranian and foreign teams took part in the Archaeological Rescue Excavations of the Bolaghi Valley, a project that was implemented to save artifacts and glean information from over 130 ancient sites of the valley, which are currently being flooded by the reservoir of the Sivand Dam. (read full story)


Remains of a Parthian Fort Discovered in Malayer

London, 5 Oct 2007 (CAIS)

Following six months of continuous research, archaeologists have completed their studies on the post-Sasanian period in Kalan Dam in Malayer, Hamedan province and have started their work on recently discovered Parthian ruins at the site.

Announcing this, head of the excavation team involved in saving Patapeh Mound which will be submerged by the dam's reservoir, Hassan Rezvani told Persian service of CHN that Patapeh is made up of different ancient layers from the pre-historic times up to the post-Sasanian period (637-850 E).

"Following the completion of studies on the post-Sasanian ruins, we came across architectural remains at the site date back to the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE)," he said.

Earlier, discovery of a post-Sasanian fort at Kalan Dam in Malayer, Hamadan province, has paved the way for archaeologists to study 1,000 years of architectural developments in the area.

Archaeological studies on the fort reveal that the fort was in use from the Saljuq (1037-1187 CE) to Qajar (1781-1925 CE) periods and after various renovations, especially during the Ilkhanid era, it was transformed into glassworks center.

According to Rezvani, a three-meter wide wall made of bricks measuring 37 cm X 37 cm and mortar was also unearthed, demonstrating the strength of the fort in the Parthian period.

Patapeh, which is 25 meters high, is the highest mound which has so far been studied. (read full story)


Seimareh Dam reservoir conceals archaeological goldmine

Tehran, 25 Sep 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists has recently identified 100 ancient sites at the Seimareh Dam reservoir in western Iran's Ilam Province.

The sites have been identified as belonging to a whole array of historical eras including Neolithic, Bronze Age, Copper Age, Stone Age, Parthian, Sassanid, and early Islamic, team director Rasul Seyyedin Borujeni told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.

"The sites spread over a vast area. Thus we need a large team of archaeologists in order to begin salvage operations. The success of the project depends on the setting of priorities and the conduction of regular excavations," he added.

The Seimareh Dam has been constructed over the river Seimareh and is located 30 kilometers northwest of the city of Darehshahr. The filling of the dam has been scheduled to commence by the end of the Iranian year (March 19, 2008).

Initial studies for the dam project began in the early 1970s and were completed in 1990. The double-arch dam has a concrete structure and a crest height of 180 meters above its lowest foundation. (read full story)


3000-year-old graves discovered at Galabar Dam reservoir

Tehran, 22 Sep 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists has recently discovered 24 graves dating back 3000 years during salvage excavations at the Galabar Dam reservoir in Zanjan Province, central northwest Iran.

The graves have been found in two Iron Age cemeteries which had been located previously. They have also identified numerous residential areas dating back to the same period as the graves near the ruins of a castle. The castle was built during the Parthian era (circa 250 BC-224 CE) and is also known to have been used during the early Islamic era.

The team has also salvaged many pottery and bronze artifacts, which are considered to be typical Iron Age III relics (c.750–c.550 BC).

"The Iron Age area consists of four tepes, two of which are conjoined and two separate at a distance of 100 meters from each other," team director Abolfazl Aali told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.

Much evidence of burials has been discovered in the area of the tepes. In addition, members of the team are currently excavating one of the mounds which has been found to contain architectural strata.

The team has previously discovered 6000-year-old skeletons of four children buried in a prehistoric manner in graves in the floors of the rooms of several houses.

In addition, grey and red pottery artifacts belonging to the First Iron Age (c. 1300–c.1000 BC) have been unearthed.

The filling of the dam with water began early last March and all these archaeological sites are gradually being devoured by the Galabar River. (read full story)


30 Parthian-Sasanian Sites Discovered near Gorgan Wall

Tehran, 15 Sep 2007 (CHN Foreign Desk) by Soudabeh Sadigh

Gorgon WallA view of Gorgan Wall

Archeological excavations conducted by Iranian-British on Gorgan’s great wall led into discovery of 30 historical sites belonging to Parthian and Sasanian historic sites.

By wrapping up archeological excavations on Gorgan’s Great Wall, Iranian-British joint team has succeeded in identifying 30 historical sites dating back to Parthian (248 BC-224 AD) and Sasanian (224-651 AD) dynastic eras.

The joint Iranian-British archeology team consisted of experts of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and University of Edinburgh and Durham University, started the second season of excavations on Gorgan’s defensive wall in Kolaleh, Gonbad Kavus, and Turkmen port, all located northern Iran.

According to Hamid Omrani, Iranian head of the Iranian-British team, the majority of the Parthian and Sasanian historical sites have been discovered in northern side of Gorgan’s wall. Prior to this, during the archeological excavations in the vicinity of Gorgan’s wall, the team also succeeded in discovering the biggest fortress, 64 hectares in area, in one kilometer distance outside of Gorgan’s wall.

Gorgan’s great wall extended for 200 kilometers in the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, is the most ancient and the longest wall in Iran. It was constructed to prevent invasions by the Heptai tribes from north side of the country. Comparable to the Great Wall of China, Gorgan’s Defensive Wall has a cultural-historic importance and brings into light the rich civilization of northern regions of present-day Iran. (read full article)


Roads of time converge in Bolaghi Valley

Tehran, 10 Sep 2007 (Mehr News Agency) By Hamid Golpira

Roads from many different eras converge in the Bolaghi Valley/Pasargadae area, showing the continuity of Iranian history, according to Parsa-Pasargadae Research Center Director Mohammad Hassan Talebian. The Bolaghi Valley has over 130 important archaeological sites, but only 24 will be submerged by the reservoir of the Sivand Dam when it is filled, Dr. Talebian told the Tehran Times in an interview at the Persepolis Complex.

The Bolaghi Valley is located in Fars Province and stretches for about 15 kilometers from the Bolaghi Pass (Tang-e Bolaghi) to the Sivand Dam and then for several more kilometers after the dam. The Bolaghi Pass is about four kilometers from the village of Pasargad, which is beside the ruins of the ancient Persian capital of Pasargadae.

A view of the Bolaghi Valley

 

 

 

A view of the Bolaghi Valley

The area was previously called Tang-e Bolaghi, but since most of the ancient sites are in the valley that opens up after the mountain pass, experts changed its appellation to the Bolaghi Valley or Darreh Bolaghi in Persian.

A project called the Archaeological Rescue Excavations of the Bolaghi Valley was implemented from 2004 to 2007 to study the archaeological sites before the filling of the reservoir of the Sivand Dam flooded a large section of the valley, a process which is currently underway, unfortunately.

The cultural landscape of Pasargadae, the Bolaghi Valley, and the surrounding area covers about 400 square kilometers, Talebian explained.

The research in the area was conducted to discover information about the systems and the lifestyles of the various eras, he added.

He went on to say that UNESCO has agreed to help Iran with the cultural management plan for the area.

The Japanese-Iranian team that was working in the Bolaghi Valley discovered the ruins of an Achaemenid era dam very near the location of the Sivand Dam which surprisingly used much of the same type of technology as the modern dam, Talebian said.

The ancient dam fed an irrigation system, he added.

One of the sites that is being submerged by the reservoir of the Sivand Dam is a 6000-year-old Bakun period pottery workshop with several kilns that was discovered by the German-Iranian archaeological team, which was led by Barbara Helwing, the head of the Tehran branch of the German Archaeological Institute, and Mojgan Seyedin, who is a member of the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research.

The German-Iranian team also unearthed a number of skeletons and numerous shards from the Bakun period (late 5th to early 4th millennium BC).

Several hundred meters from the pottery workshop, the team excavated a settlement where the prehistoric people who established the workshop lived. That site will also be submerged.

Talebian stated that two of the 6000-year-old clay kilns discovered in the Bolaghi Valley were moved to the nearby Pasargadae Research Center through the use of a special technique developed by the craftsmen of the Persepolis Complex.

They are to be put on display in a new museum that is being built next to the Pasargadae Research Center.

The director of the Parsa-Pasargadae Research Center noted that the University of Chicago has 30,000 ancient Iranian tablets or fragments of tablets bearing cuneiform inscriptions in its possession and has translated 3000 of them, but added that they are gradually being returned to Iran.

Talebian also described an Achaemenid era palace that the French-Iranian archaeological team discovered in the Bolaghi Valley.

It is believed that it was constructed for Darius the Great because some of the columns bear craftsmen's marks similar to the craftsmen's marks discovered in the palace of Darius I in Persepolis, he said.

Four wooden beams were discovered at the palace along with some pottery and earthenware canteens from the Achaemenid era, he stated.

On the controversy surrounding the Bolaghi Valley and the Sivand Dam project, Talebian said, "Cultural matters shouldn't be politicized."

The Tehran Times also spoke to Pasargadae Research Center archaeologist Farhad Zarei.

Zarei discovered the Pars Wall in the Bolaghi Valley.

The wall stretches for at least 10 kilometers, but experts say more of the structure may be discovered in the future.

Zarei believes the Pars Wall was built during the Parthian era, although many archaeologists have surmised that it is from the Achaemenid era.

The Pars Wall

 

 

 

The Pars Wall

Zarei also showed me one of the passageways cut into the mountainsides above the Bolaghi Valley during the Achaemenid era. He explained that there are nine passageways on one side of the valley and sixteen on the other side.

Some experts say these passageways were part of the Achaemenid Royal Road, but Zarei disagrees.

He said he believes the passageways were actually water channels constructed in ancient times.

There are many rumors about the threat that the Sivand Dam poses to the ancient Persian capital of Pasargadae, but they are for the most part inaccurate.

Pasargadae will not be submerged by the reservoir of the Sivand Dam. However, some experts believe the increased humidity caused by the large lake that will eventually be only four or five kilometers away from the ancient site could cause some damage to Pasargadae, which is home to the tomb of Cyrus the Great, two of his palaces, and some other Achaemenid era structures. (read full story)


Piping peace and prosperity to South Asia

Tehran, 2 Sep 2007 (Mehr News Agency) by Gul Jammas Hussain

In olden times, the land of Persia under the Parthian Empire was connected to its eastern neighbors, South Asia and China, by the Great Silk Route. Caravans after caravans would ply the historic 11,200-kilometer (7000-mile) road, carrying silk from China, spices, precious stones, metals, and jade from India, and gold, silver goods, medicines and perfumes from Persia. They moved through the Kara-Kum and Kyzyl-Kum deserts, the boundless steppes of Sary-Arka; passed over the ridges of the Pamirs and Tien-Shan, the Altai and the Karatau Mountains; crossed the rivers Murgab and Amu Darya, Syr Darya and Djaik.

Times changed, and with it the ways, the means of transportation, likings and dislikings, needs and requirements of people -- but one thing stayed there, as it was in the bygone years, in the distant past, strong and powerful desire among cultures and civilizations to have a profound connection with one and others.

The people invented a totally new, very modern, up-to-date way to revive that link again a 56 inches diameter, 2670 kilometer long gas pipeline with compressor stations along the way to allow for a flow of up to 3.2 billion cubic feet of gas a day.

The gas pipeline would supply liquid energy to its old business partners in the east, Pakistan, India and most probably also to China, as she is interested in expanding the project up to China.

This modern-day version of the Grand Silk Route of yesteryear would originate from South Pars Gas Fields, Iran, pass through, Sindh and Baluchistan, Pakistan, traversing some of the harshest terrains in the world -- hot sun-burnt deserts, cold freezing up to 9300 feet high mountains, under sub-zero winter temperatures creating the risk of freezing gas in pipeline, which will need special arrangements to permit the gas to flow freely -- in result, making it the costliest business venture for the stakeholders -- one million dollars for each kilometer, the total cost at $7 billion which could rise to $8 billion -- ending in India.

It has been estimated that at least 50 per cent of the cost of constructing this pipeline is a consequence of the difficult weather, terrain conditions and special technical provisions to protect against earthquakes in an area that is prone to seismic upheaval.

It would bring both peace and prosperity not only to the region but in a way also to the world, calming down nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India, tying them in mutual business interests, lessening the chances of war, increasing the opportunity for them to live like civilized, peaceful, prosperous nations, and freeing up funds that can be spent on their citizens rather than on monstrous war machines.

In this sense it is not simply another gas pipeline, supplying energy from one country to another or from one region to other region, but, indeed a powerful means to achieve something great, something too high and sublime, like peace among peoples and prosperity at homes -- which our troubled world needs so dearly.

The Great Silk Route never faced any dangers to its security but only once in the Middle Ages, when the barbaric Mongols were trampling every sign of civilization under their feet, the robbers, dacoits and bandits used to plunder the precious possessions of the caravans, otherwise no country or even no empire tried to halt the caravans of peace and prosperity.

But, alas! In our 'enlightened times' the neocons sitting in the White House -- mostly energy giants working for their multinational companies' interests -- are doing their best to block this highly lucrative project, putting every possible pressure upon India and Pakistan, and hatching dangerous conspiracies.

U.S. opposition to the pipeline is not just because of its antipathy to the Islamic Republic of Iran but it is because Washington knows the involvement of Iran in this kind of projects will undo the efforts it has made all these years to dominate the transit routes of Asian energy.

It is an unwarranted interference in the affairs of regional states. It is the inherent right of sovereign states to expand economic relations with one another. No state has the right to impede the legitimate inter-state commerce. It is gratifying that Pakistan and India have decided to go ahead with the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project resisting the United States' overt and covert pressure.

The Bush administration is free to trade or not to trade with Iran but it has no right to impose its will on other states because they happen to trade with a country which the U.S. dislikes for one reason or another.

As the owner of the world's second-largest proven natural gas reserves, Iran is keen to exploit this resource as a source of revenue. It is therefore pursuing gas export deals with a number of countries. It is an energy-rich nation while Pakistan and India are the energy-starved countries -- with two of the fastest growing economies -- need natural gas for their mills and factories to keep the momentum of economic growth going. With every passing day their needs in energy sector are growing and their own resources are too small to fulfill the ever-growing demands.

Pakistan's burgeoning domestic energy needs will double by 2010. The pipeline complex would boost industrial infrastructure, create jobs and help poverty alleviation in Baluchistan and Sindh. Its gas reserves would be depleted by 2015 and the nation is critically dependent on gas for domestic, agricultural and industrial purpose.

Baluchistan province of Pakistan has seen political violence stemming from a strong sense of deprivation. The gas pipeline project, says the U.S. scholar George Perkovitch, is an "economically necessary, environmentally-friendly and security-enhancing initiative" that the U.S. has long advocated.

Iran and India signed an agreement for an overland natural pipeline in 1993, and in 2002 Iran and Pakistan signed an agreement on a feasibility study for it. India would at once be able to source gas at half the cost of what it now pays for gas imported as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and Iran, the world's largest exporter of gas, would find a ready market for its huge reserves.

The IPI gas pipeline project is not only vital for India's medium-term energy security; it is also the key which will help South Asia unlock the potential of a pan-Asian energy grid involving Central Asia and China as well.

A recent flurry of high-level diplomatic visits suggested that the project is still very much on the cards and will not be abandoned or slowed down, despite the U.S. pressure. The pipeline would run about 1,115km in Iran, 705km in Pakistan and 850km in India.

All the signs are that the IPI gas pipeline deal will be wrapped up soon to the satisfaction of all three stakeholders. The key issues including two major stumbling blocks -- tariffs and the gas-sharing formula -- have already been resolved.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has invited the leaders of India and Pakistan to Tehran at the end of this year to ink the $7.4 billion peace pipeline project, which could be operational as early as 2010-11. (read full story)


Seimareh Dam Reservoir Devours 100 Archaeological Sites

London, 25 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

A team of archaeologists has recently identified 100 ancient sites behind the Seimareh Dam reservoir in western Iran's Ilam Province.

The sites have been identified as belonging to a whole array of historical eras including Neolithic, Bronze Age, Copper Age, Stone Age, as well as Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE), Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynastic eras, and post-Sasanian period (651-850 CE), team director Rasul Seyyedin Borujeni told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.

"The sites spread over a vast area. Thus we need a large team of archaeologists in order to begin salvage operations. The success of the project depends on the setting of priorities and the conduction of regular excavations," he added.

The Seimareh Dam has been constructed over the river Seimareh and is located 30 kilometres northwest of the city of Darehshahr. The filling of the dam has been scheduled to commence by the end of the Iranian year (March 19, 2008 ).

Initial studies for the dam project began in the early 1970s without knowledge of any archaeological sites presence, and was completed in 1990. The double-arch dam has a concrete structure and a crest height of 180 meters above its lowest foundation. (read full story)


28 Parthian and Sasanian Sites Identified in Golestan

London, 22 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeologists from the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department of Golestan province have succeeded in identifying 28 historical sites belonging to Parthian (248 BCE- 224 CE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynastic eras which must have a relation with Gorgan's Great Wall.

According to Hamid Omrani, Iranian head of Iranian-British joint team in excavation project of Gorgan's Great Wall, the newly discovered areas in eastern part of Gorgan's wall date back to Parthian dynastic era.

The high density of Parthian historic sites in this area indicates that the area was under Parthian domain prior the rise of Arsacid dynasty to power and later formation of the Parthian empire.

Iranian-British joint team consisted of experts of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization and University of Edinburgh and Durham University, have started their researches on Gorgan's Great Wall otherwise known as Gorgan's Defensive Wall in an attempt to find more about this stunning architectural masterpiece which is somehow comparable to the Great Wall of China.

Iran is also intending to put up the Great Wall of Gorgan, as Asian's second most extended wall for world registration. (read full story)


Discovery of a Parthian Canal by Gorgan's Great Wall

London, 22 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

Following the recent discovery of a fortress at Gorgan's Great Wall during the third season of archaeological research, archaeologists have also managed to discover a canal belonging to the Parthian dynastic era.

''The canal is 50 kilometers in length and 25 kilometers in width, which led Gorgan water towards the wall for defence purposes,'' director of Gorgan wall Cultural Heritage Base Hamid Omrani said.

"Water in the canal was used during war-times, it was filled with water in order to protect the city against any possible invasion", he added.

According to Omrani, the evidence indicated that the canal was dug out during the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE), and prior to the construction of Gorgan great wall.

"Archaeologists last week discovered a fortress which was named No 16 and it is located adjacent to the Gorgan wall", he concluded.

The third phase of archaeological research began in early August with cooperation between Iranian and British archeologists (from two Scottish universities).

The Gorgan's Great wall extended 200 kilometres in the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, it is the most ancient and the longest wall in Iran-proper. It was constructed to prevent invasions by the invading nomadic groups from north. The exact date of its construction is unknown, but it possibly belongs to the late Parthian or early Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynastic eras. (read full story)


Sixteenth Fort Discovered at Gorgan's Ancient Great Wall

London, 21 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

A team of Iranian and British archaeologists have recently discovered a sixteenth fort at the Gorgan Great Wall during a series of geophysical studies, the Persian service of CHN reported on Monday.

"The fort is attached to the wall and its interior structures which date back approximately 1700 years are still intact," the team's Iranian director Hamid Omrani announced.

"Geophysical studies indicate that the interior structures have been built in a symmetrical style," he explained.

The team, which includes experts from the universities of Durham and Edinburgh, is currently conducting excavations to enable the wall to be dated precisely.

Archaeologists estimate that it was built at about the same time as the Great Wall of China and that it was used as a defense system against the invasions of the Ephthalites, a nomadic people who once lived in Central Asia.

Initial studies suggest that the wall measures 200 kilometers in length. This would make it Asia's second longest wall after the Great Wall of China. (read full story)


Islamic Republic Demolished Parthian Bridge of Negin 

London, 20 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

The Islamic Republic under the guise of construction of a new bridge in Shamim Yaar, one of the districts of Masjed Soleyman, have demolished 2200-year old Parthian bridge of Negin. The ancient bridge was amongst the best preserved and intact bridges of its type remained from Arsacid dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE).

This news has been announced by Mojtaba Gahstooni, the spokesman for the Khusestan's Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association (Tariana).

The 60 meters in length was the best survived Parthian water engineering example in the country, which was demolished despite the 100-meter legal protection boundary, imposed by Khuzestan Province Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (KCHTO).

According to "Gahstooni", the KCHTO in 2005 announced initially a 700-meter protection boundary for this monument was set and the Islamic regime's Ministry of Roads and Transportation was ordered to observe this and keep its operations away from the announced area. However, the boundary was reduced to 100 meters in 2006 by KCHTO possibly from pressure from the regime in order to pave the way for its destruction and later to claim that was an accident.

Shortage of fuel has been announced to be the reason of delay in sending experts of KCHTO to prevent it from total destruction; this is while the Islamic regime spends billions of dollars of Iranian monies in Iraq and Lebanon.

Until this moment, none of the KCHTO experts or the regime's authorities have answered to the request for an interview.

After 1979 British-orchestrated Islamic Revolution in Iran, the ruling clerics who are of non-Iranian origin have been devoted themselves to destroy and erase all the pre-Islamic Iranian culture and civilisation, under the guise of construction projects. The destruction of this Parthian bridge is one of the latest examples of their animosity towards Iran and Iranian nation and their rich heritage. (read full story)


Two Further Fortresses Identified on Path of Gorgan's Wall

London, 18 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

Geophysical operations of Iranian-British joint team on more than 2 hectares of Gorgan's wall led into identifying two underground fortresses.

Hamid Omrani, Iranian head of the team and head of the cultural heritage base of Gorgan's Great Wall announced the discovery of two buried Sasanian fortresses which are denoted to Gorgan's wall during geophysical operations.

Iranian-British joint team consisted of archaeologists and experts of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) and University of Edinburgh and Durham University in Scotland, have so far carried out three seasons of archaeological excavations on Gorgan's Great Wall. The team is consisted of 17 experts in archaeology, archeo-geology, geophysics, history, architecture, archeo-anthropology, and laboratory.

According to Omrani, the discovered earthenware evidence in the area are being classified and documented for further researches.

Gorgan's Great Wall extended in the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, is the most ancient and longest wall in Iran. Comparable to the Great Wall of China, Gorgan's Defensive Wall has a cultural-historic importance and speaks of the rich civilization which once populated the northern regions of present-day Iran. (read full story)


Parts of Tamisheh Wall Discovered in Gulf of Gorgan 

London, 12 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

Underwater archaeological excavations of Iranian-British joint team on Gorgan's defensive wall resulted in discovering parts of Tamisheh wall in the Gulf of Gorgan. Tamisheh wall constitutes a part of Gorgan historic wall.

Announcing this news, Hamid Omrani, Iranian head of Gorgan's wall archaeology team told Persian service of CHN: "As it was anticipated, parts of Tamisheh wall have been identified during underwater archaeological researching and through scuba diving activities in Gorgan's gulf and we are determined to conduct more studies in the next season of excavations to find more parts of this wall."

The researches which have been made so far show that just like the Gorgan wall, 37x37x10cm bricks were implemented in Tamisheh wall as well. Omrani and the archaeology team give the possibility that Tamisheh wall and Gorgan wall reach to each other in one place and completed each other. However, more researches are needed to prove this theory.

Prior to this, existence of Tamisheh wall was identified through satellite pictures which were taken from the region and later on it was approved through archaeological excavations.

Underwater archaeological studies have been started by Iranian-British joint team for the first time to determine the extent of the historical wall of Gorgan which is considered the longest wall in Asia after the Great Wall of China. Archaeologists are looking to trace the wall's extension into the Caspian Sea.

Gorgan Wall, which is one of the most important historical monuments in Golestan province, extends for 200 kilometres. Like the Great Wall of China, it was built to protect the city from invaders. So far archaeologists have succeeded in discovering the remnants of a number of fortresses dating back to Sasanian dynastic era (224-651 CE). (read full story)


Identifying of number of post-Achaemenid Sites in Sistan Plain

London, 11 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

While information of archaeologists about existence of Parthian and Sasanian historical sites was mostly limited to Mount Khajeh, Guri hill and a few number of other historical sites, in continuation of their researches in Sistan plain located in Iranian Sistan va Baluchestan province, archaeologists have succeeded in tracing some historical sites dating back to post-Achaemenid (330-248 BCE) period as well as Parthian (248 BC-224 CE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynastic eras.

So far, archaeological excavations have resulted in more than 700 historical sites ranging in date from prehistoric to Islamic periods in Sistan plain which all of them are due to be pinpointed on archaeology map of Sistan va Baluchestan province.

Announcing this news, Rasoul Mousavi Haji, one of heads of archaeology team in Sistan plain told Persian service of CHN: "In addition to these historical sites, the archaeology team has also succeeded in discovering the remains of a large city belonging to Parthian and Sasanian dynastic eras which is unprecedented and was never seen before in this area."

This city is about 600 in 500 meters in area with a large number of Parthian and Sasanian historical evidence including the remains of earthenware which were never seen before.

"Among the archaeological achievements, we have faced with a new kind of clay belonging to post-Achaemenid (also known as Seleucids) and Parthian periods. This is the first time such red clays have been ever found in Sistan plain and has opened a new chapter in archaeological studies of Sistan plain," added Mousavi Haji.

He believes that discovery of Seleucids, Parthian and Sasanian evidence might reveal many unknown facts about these historical periods, which have still remained unknown for archaeologists.

Identifying of historic evidence as ancient as the Burnt City (Shahr-e Sukteh) as well as industrial centres and semiprecious decorative stones such as lapis and opal, are among the other prominent achievements during archaeological activities in Sistan plain. All these discoveries brings into light that the industry for implementing decorative stones was not just limited to the Burnt City and was extended across the satellite villages of this prehistoric city. These researches also show that in each 6 kilometre of Sistan plain must have contained one historic site.

Archaeological excavations have been started by a team of archaeologists in 22 districts of Sistan plain which have been divided into two phases. Discovery of more than 700 prehistoric and historic sites was the result of archaeological researches during the first phase of activities. (read full story)


Identification of a Parthian and Three Post-Sasanian Cities in Sistan

London, 6 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeological studies in Sistan-va-Baluchestan province, have led to discovery of 400 archaeological sites including an Arsacid (Parthian) and three post-Sasanian cities.

Director of the archaeology team in east of Sistan, Rasul Mousavi-Haji told Persian service of CHN that the findings were the outcome of a 20-day archaeological survey which included exploration of 1,500 square kilometres of the area.

"We came across one archaeological site on average in every four square kilometres in east of Sistan. The most ancient site belonged to the Arsacid dynastic era [(248 BCE-224 CE)], while the most recent sites date back to the post-Sasanian [(651-850 CE)]."

He added that the ruins of the Arsacid city, covering a vast area, form contiguous mounds and a cluster of high and low hillocks as well as numerous architectural structures are among the vestiges of the three Islamic cities.

Noting that none of the findings have been registered yet, Mousavi said that the step would be undertaken once the identification and exploration processes are completed.

"The studies have not yet been completed -however, based on historical sources and the natural conditions of Sistan in different eras, it is unlikely that pre-historic artefacts would be uncovered there."

However, the archaeologist stated that items pertaining to the pre-historic eras might be found in southern Sistan in which the rich civilization of Hirmand River once flourished.

Mousavi, who called Sistan 'A Paradise for Archaeologists', said current explorations, are expected to be completed by late November and the findings will be published in ten volumes (read full story)


Partho-Sasanian Sites of Abyaneh are in Danger

London, 4 Aug 2007 (CAIS)

Continuation of hotel construction in Abyaneh by families of Islamic regime's prominent members and their close allies has put the status of this historical village at risk. Recent decision of an investor for erecting a hotel in eastern part of this historic village has raised the concern of cultural heritage enthusiasts and people of Abyaneh about the real harm which will pose to the first evidence of settlement in historic village.

In a talk with Persian service of CHN, Abas Shakeri, secretary and general director of Abyaneh Council House, said: "Archaeological researches conducted by Abyaneh Archaeology Research Centre, show the existence of historical evidence dating back to Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) in eastern parts of Abyaneh historic village. However, despite of all oppositions aroused by Abyaneh Cultural Heritage Centre and the order of deputy director of Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) indicating that no construction is permitted in vicinity of this historic village until preparing a comprehensive plan, a new investor is severely intended to construct a hotel in this area."

This is while based on archaeological researches, evidence of existence of Partho-Sasanian historic sites have been traced through the earthenware remains scattered in the area, only in 150 meters distance of the land which has been considered for construction of the hotel.

"Prior to this, by order of deputy director of ICHHTO, the case was taken to Natanz judiciary which ruled to prohibit any kind of construction in eastern part of the village. However, recently we have noticed insists of this investor for getting the permission for hotel construction in this area at any price," added Shakeri.

Historic village of Abyaneh is located near the city of Kashan in Iranian Esfahan province. With a unique reddish coloured buildings, a unique architectural style and its exceptional traditional customs. Abyaneh is one of the most ancient villages in Iran which attracts numerous native and foreign tourists every year, especially during traditional feasts and ceremonies.

The ruins of a Sasanian fort sit on top of the village. Since June 2005, the village has been undergoing archaeological excavations for the first time, as a result of an agreement between Abyaneh Research Centre and ICHHTO' Archaeology Research Centre.

According to a report released recently following the visit of UNESCO representatives and experts of world heritage form Abyaneh village, this historical village has been recognized appropriate for being registered in list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. (read full story)


Experts to Examine New Ways to Save Salt Men

London, 24 Jul 2007 (CAIS)

The Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (ZCHTHD) plans to gather a number of Iranian, British, and German experts at a seminar in October in order to investigate new techniques for the preservation of Iran's salt men.

Over the past decade, five salt men have been unearthed at the Chehrabad (Chehr-ābād) Salt Mine located in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan.

The First Salt Man is on display at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran and the other four are being kept at the Rakhtshui-khaneh Museum in Zanjan.

"After all the measures that have been taken for the preservation of the salt men at the Rakhtshui-khaneh Museum, they are still not in good condition," ZCHTHD director Frahang Farrokhi told the Persian service of CHN on Monday.

"Some further erosion can be observed on the mummies in comparison with that which was present at the time of discovery," he added.

"The method that we have used for preserving the salt men is only efficient in the short term. We need to learn new techniques in order to conserve them for future generations," Farrokhi explained.

The Sixth Salt Man was recently discovered, but it was left in-situ due to the dearth of equipment necessary for its preservation.

The Archaeological Research Centre of Iran (ARCI) Director Mohammad-Hassan Fazeli Nashli opposed the idea of unearthing the Sixth Salt Man saying, "The earth is the best trustee for ancient artifacts because there is no guarantee for their proper protection."

Experts believe that the Sixth Salt Man lived about 1800 years ago.

Studies on the Fourth Salt Man indicate that the body is 2000 years old and that he was 15 or 16 years old at the time of death.

It is still not clear when the other salt men lived, but archaeologists estimate that the First Salt Man lived about 1700 years ago and died sometime between the ages of 35 and 40. (read full story)


Discovered Parthian Artifacts from Guri-Kohneh Mound are being classified

London, 16 Jul 2007 (CAIS)

The material cultures recovered from Guri-Kohneh Mound in Sistan va Baluchistan province is being classified and catalogued by the experts from Iran's Archaeological Research Centre, announced by Reza Mehrafarin, director of archaeological research in Guri-Kohneh.

Mehrafari said "the recent excavation was conducted in order to classify and typify the Parthian pottery of this historical site".

"After obtaining a permit for research in this Parthian site, from February to April 2007, we have managed to classify and catalogue the discovered potteries which date from 3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE".

"Unfortunately as the result of submergence of the historical mound, the architectural remains dating to the Parthian dynastic period has been totally destroyed, and we have been left with a pile of mud".

He added "in addition we have also found a large number of potsherds dating from 14th century to the Qajar period; and a number of Parthian coins which were sent to the Archaeological Research Centre for further study".

The Guri-Kohneh Zehak was a fortress constructed during the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE) for the local Parthian rulers of Sistan, possibly the Suren clan. It was abandoned sometime during the 3rd century CE for an unknown reason. Archaeologists, have previously discovered potteries in the area dating back to the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE).

Guri-Kohneh Zehak, is located 15 kilometres southeast of Zabol, the provincial capital of Sistan. (read full story)


Fifty Six Pre-Islamic Graves Discovered behind Salman-e Farsi Dam

London, 3 Jul 2007 (CAIS)

The first season of archaeological excavations in the Parto-Sasanian city behind Salman-e Farsi dam in Iranian Fars province has been wrapped up with unearthing fifty six graves belonging to post Achaemenid period (333-248 BCE), Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynastic eras, as well as a number of Sasanian industrial centres in the eastern side of the city.

Announcing this Alireza Jafari Zand, head of excavation team behind Salman-e Farsi Dam told Persian service of CHN: "A number of these graves have already been plundered but some of them were plundered by local people when they noticed the graves will be submerged by inundation of Salman-e Farsi Dam."

In spite of plundering and severe damages already caused, a large number of objects have been unearthed in these graves which show the close relation of this region in Fars province with the Persian Gulf. According to Zandi, most of the graves have been looted since mid-1980s.

"A large number of necklaces made from shells which show the trade relation of this region with the Persian Gulf," explained Jafari Zand.

Referring to one of the prominent shells found in these graves, he said: "Design of the face of a man belonging to the post-Achaemenid era was engraved on one of these shells. This sell resembles to those already found in Shamsi archaeological site in Khuzestan province belonging to first century CE."

Regarding the other characteristics of these graves, head of excavation team he said: "These low-depth graves were dug in rocks. In this burial method, a hole was created in the rock and then the grave was marked by putting small and big stones in the area. The hole was covered with a small amount of mortar on which the corpse was put and then it was filled up by stones."

During their excavations in eastern side of this Sasanian city behind Salman-e Farsi Dam, archaeologists have also confronted with a number of industrial workshops in the area including clay kilns and forges. Considering the architectural style of these industrial sites, archaeologists have concluded that this area must have been an industrial site.

"Three clay kilns and forges were found in these sites which have a very systematic structure and slopping corridors which were used for passing water. Evidence of this ancient site reveals that the area was considered for constructing industrial sites in the area", asserted Jafari Zand.

He concluded that: "Direction of winds in this area of Fars province is from west to east. This is why the eastern side was selected for setting up industrial centres in order to prevent fire."

The next season of archaeological excavations behind Salman-e Farsi Dam will commence in September.

Currently, Islamic Republic's Ministry of Power has promised not to fill up the reservoir and keep the level of water according to what has been agreed upon with Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization until the archaeological excavations in the Sasanian city behind the dam come to an end. (read full story)


Parthian Fortresses of Nisa Inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List 

London, 29 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

The World Heritage Committee inscribed 22 new sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List during its ongoing session in Christchurch including the Parthian site of Nisa.

The Parthian fortresses of Nisa consists of two mounds of Old and New Nisa which indicate they were part of one of the earliest and most important cities of the third Iranian dynastic empire, the Arsacids, a major world power from 248 BCE to 224 CE.

They mounds have been relatively undisturbed for nearly two millennia and conserve the unexcavated remains of an ancient civilization which skillfully combined its own Iranian traditional cultural elements with those of the Greco-Roman west.

Archaeological excavations in two parts of the site have revealed richly decorated architecture, illustrative of domestic, state, and religious functions. Most of the excavation to date has been carried out at the Royal citadel, now known as Old Nisa, but the site also includes the ancient town, known as New Nisa. Old Nisa is a 14-ha tell shaped like an irregular pentagon and surrounded by a high defensive earth rampart with more than 40 rectangular towers, its corners flanked by powerful bastions.

The 25-ha mound of New Nisa is surrounded by powerful walls, up to 9m high on all sides, with two entrances. Situated at the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes, the archaeological remains of Nisa vividly illustrate the significant interaction of cultural influences from central Asia and the Mediterranean in this powerful empire which formed a barrier to Roman expansion while serving as an important communication and trading centre between east and west, north and south. The site testifies to the significance of this imperial power, to its wealth and culture.

The world heritage committee meeting in Christchurch ends on Monday, after deciding which applications join the 830 World Heritage sites previously named. (read full story)


Discovery of a Secret Passageway Leading to Parthian Kalan Fortress

London, 26 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

During the archaeological salvation operation behind the Kalan (Kalān) Dam, archaeologists have discovered a secret passageway leading to the nearby fortress. This was announced by Hassan Rezvani, head of archaeological research team at Kalan historical site, according to Persian service of ISNA.

"The latest discovery of the well that is 4.5 meters deep, and was dug out in the ancient times, served neither as a water well or as a sewage well, but as an entry or exit point for the secret passageway linked to the fortress", said Rezvani.

He added, "we have completed the Islamic stratum and are in process of preparing the next phase which is preparation of a plan for lower strata."

Rezvani also mentioned that the Kalan fortress was constructed during the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE), which went under number of modifications during the post-Sasanian period (651-850 CE) – the well is possibly belongs to the latter period.

Rezvani concluded that: "we have managed to identify and unearth the section of Parthian watchtower and a fortification wall – annexation to the fortress was constructed during the post-Sasanian period."

A team of Iranian archaeologists has been carrying out rescue excavations since March 1st, on a 22-meter high archaeological mound named Pātappeh and a number of other ancient sites, all of which will be submerged by the dam's reservoir.

Kalan Dam, with a length of 826 meters and a height of 46 meters is being constructed 30 kilometres southwest of Malayer, Hamadan province, in northwest of Iran.

The main part of the mound includes ruins and a castle dating back to the Parthian and Sassanid dynastic eras. However, studies on strata show that the tepe had been inhabited since the fourth millennium BCE.

Iran's cultural heritage has been seriously threatened by the Islamic regime's dam construction projects over the past few years, in a systematic attempt to wipe out the traces of Pre-Islamic Iranian heritage. (read full story)


Discovery of Pre-Historic Cemetery in Zanjan

London, 23 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

An archaeologist, Abolfazl Ali, has reported the discovery of a historical site by a team of archaeologists in the vicinity of Golabar Dam in Zanjan.

"According to research conducted on clay objects found in the region, the antiquity of site is estimated to date back to 6,000 years ago," Ali said.

Noting that the site is located near a lake and in the vicinity of the dam, Ali said that inundation of the dam was suspended in view of the possible submersion of the historical site.

He pointed out that concurrent with this discovery, a castle belonging to the Parthian dynastic era (248BCE - 224CE), which was resorted during the post-Sasanian (651-850 CE) period located on top of a historical hill was also identified.

"Archeological excavations have begun at the site since the foothill was exposed to the risk of being submerged following the inundation of Golabar Dam, while the castle would remain above the water on an island in the lake," Ali noted.

Golabar Dam was constructed oby the Islamic Republic, without obtaining permission from Iran cultural heritage authority (ICHTO). (read full story)


New Season of Archaeological Research at Partho-Sasanian Site of Valiran

London, 18 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

The second season of archaeological excavations in the Valiran historical site will start in early July, according to Mahammad Reza Nemati, director of archaeological research team at Valiran located in Damavand region, in the Tehran province.

''During the second season of archaeological excavations archaeologists will study the Sasanian architectural remains and the process of human settlement near Tār River in Valirān'' said Nemati.

The first season of archaeological excavations in August 2006, led to the discovery of a Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE) cemetery with three different methods of burials and a communal grave which was in use for reburial for nearly 200 years, but evidence of [Parthian] settlement is yet to be found, he added. These burial methods included urn-burials, loculi housed in a hypogeum, and surface burials have shown the difference between social classes during the Parthian dynastic era. While the surface graves are very simple, some valuable burial gifts can be seen in loculi which indicate the high social rank of the people buried in them. According to Nemati, urn-burial method was mostly used for children during this period.

Archaeologists also recovered a number of Parthian artifacts including an amphora, several rhytons, one in the shape of a shoe, seven coins belonging to Mithradates the Great (123-88 BCE), Orodes I (88-80 BCE) and Artabanus II (10-38 CE) and objects made of silver, bronze, and iron including rings, bracelets, arrowheads, arrows, different kinds of knives, earrings, belt buckles, nails and needles.

In addition to the Parthian cultural materials, evidence from the Sasanian dynastic era (224-651 CE) were also found in this ancient site. These including the architectural remains and settlement's main street with rectangular chambers in north-south direction. Also a number of coins belonging to the Sasanian king of kings Khosrow II Parviz, three pieces of Middle-Persian clay tablets, and a number of gemstones made of agate were discovered.

Damavand is a historical city located in the Tehran province, which at the foot of Iran's tallest peak, Mount Damavand. Its name appears in Sasanian records and has also been mentioned by Ferdowsi, the greatest of Persian epic poets in his literary masterpiece "Shahnameh" (The Book of Kings). (read full story)


Earth is Best Trustee for Sixth Salt Man: Expert

London, 11 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeological Research Centre of Iran (ARCI) Director Mohammad-Hassan Fazeli Nashli is opposed to the idea of unearthing the "salt man" recently discovered in the Chehrabad Salt Mine due to the dearth of equipment necessary for protection of the remains.

"Except for some rescue excavations, a question is the main reason for an archaeological excavation. Otherwise, the earth is the best trustee for ancient artifacts because there is no guarantee for their proper protection," he told the Persian service of CHN on Sunday.

The salt man was discovered by chance when the remains were partially uncovered by a rivulet created by rainfall in early June. It is the sixth salt man to be discovered in the Chehrabad Salt Mine, which is located in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan.

"So far, five salt men have been unearthed from the mine, but there are still many serious problems in regard to their preservation," he lamented.

The five salt men can still provide much information for researchers, he said in response to those who are calling for the Sixth Salt Man to be unearthed for study.

"Iran is still a novice in protection of artifacts. Thus, when there is no critical question, it is better if we let the artifact remain in the earth, which is the best trustee," he observed.

Meanwhile, the rivulet has been blocked and the Sixth Salt Man has been covered with earth. Experts believe that the Sixth Salt Man lived about 1800 years ago. (read full story)


Discovery of a Parthian Fortress behind Gelabar Dam

London, 9 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeological excavations behind Gelābar Dam in Zanjan province, northwest of Tehran, brought into light that contrary to previous belief the fortress located behind the dam dates back to Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE- 224 CE). This is while prior to this it was believed to an Islamic.

Abolfazl Aali, head of archaeology team at Gelabar Dam told Persian service of CHN: "Prior to this, based on earthenware vessels which were gathered from the surface layer of the fortress, it looked as if the fortress dates back to the Islamic period. However, further excavations and discovery of Parthian earthenware dishes and evidence of architectural remains belonging to this period, revealed that this fortress must have been constructed during Parthian dynastic era."

By inundation of Gelābar Dam, the Parthian fortress located behind the dam, only a small part of the fortress will remain like an island amidst the reservoir of the dam.

"At the same time, another two sites date back to pre-Historic and Parthian dynastic eras are also under archaeological excavations," added Aali.

Head of excavation team behind Gelabar Dam further explained that the site which belongs to Copper and Stone Ages is a mono periodic residential settlement which will be submerged completely by inundation of Gelābar Dam. "A similar fate is in store for the Parthian and Iron Age discovered residential settlements as well," added Aali.

Archaeological excavations will continue until next month behind Gelābar Dam, which its inundation has already started. (read full story)


Sixth Salt Man Discovered in Chehr-Abad Mine

London, 4 Jun 2007 (CAIS)

The sixth salt man was discovered in Chehr-Ābād Mine in Zanjan City. It is likely that a large number of salt men were buried in Chehr-Ābād Salt Mine, said Farhang Farokhi head of Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ZCHTO).

Five previous discovered salt men are being kept in Washhouse Museum , he added.

Based on previous reports, Chehr-Ābād Mine had been used from the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE) up to the early of the Sassanid dynasty (224-651 CE).

The first salt man was discovered in Zanjān's Chehr-Ābād salt mine by accident by the miners in 1993. More than a decade later in November 2004, the body of the second salt man was discovered in the same salt mine. The year 2005 was the year of salt men discoveries and bodies of the third, fourth, and fifth salt mummies were unearthed in January, March, and December 2005.

These salt men are among rare mummies discovered around the world that are mummified as a result of natural conditions. Since the salt men have been buried in salt for centuries, most of their tissues are well preserved. Special conditions of the salt mine which prevented the activities of micro-organisms caused the excellent preservation of organic and inorganic materials in the mine.

Tests carried out by Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) on the remains and clothing of first and second salt men, C14 assigned date to the late Parthian dynastic era (1745 BP). The remains of other three salt men known by numbers 3, 4 and 5, which were also victims of collapsed tunnels C14 testing have placed them in post-Achaemenid period (2245 BP). (read full story)


Archaeologists have Discovered Ancient Mudbrick-Footpath in Ramhormoz

London, 31 May 2007 (CAIS)

During the excavation in Ramhormorz, a mudbrick footpath with the size of 40×40x7 was unearthed.

"Studies over this footpath has not been completed yet, therefore it's age is not clear, but discovery of potteries in the vicinity of the hills supports the claim that the footpath was constructed during the Parthian dynastic era,'' said Arman Shishegar, director of archaeological research team in Ramhormorz.

The recent excavation by Ramhormoz Water and Sewage Department in Khuzestan province led to accidental discovery of two historical coffins containing some 488 pieces of artifacts belonging to Elamite period (3400-550 BCE), Achaemenid (550-330 BCE) and Parthian (248 BCE- 224 CE) dynasties. (read full story)


Ambiguous Fate of Ramhormoz Treasury 

London, 21 May 2007 (CAIS)

Accidental discovery of Rāmhormoz Treasury within two coffins containing which were unearthed during activities of Khuzestan's Water and Sewage Department, and the contradictory statements about the number of these golden ornamentations and artifacts belonging to different historic periods including, Elamite (3400-550 BCE), Achaemenid (550-330 BC), Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE) dynastic eras, as well as Mesopotamia civilization has turned into one of the most sensational issues among cultural heritage enthusiasts during the past few weeks. What add fuel to remorse was the silence of the authorities in this regard.

Just like the other cases, as soon as the news about such a discovery was spread, a large number of smugglers rushed to the area in hope to plunder this Treasury, however according to ICHTO, all the relics which were looted by the smugglers have been confiscated by police.

Following the discovery of Rāmhormoz Treasury, some contradictory statements were made about the number of these invaluable historical relics and they were announced between 300 to 800 items. This is while no price can be put on most of these historical relics.... (read full story)


Pre-Islamic Agricultural System Discovered at Korbaldasht

London, 21 May 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeological studies at Korbaldasht historical site, Marvdasht, Fars province, have produced considerable results in the restoration of agricultural systems and mechanisms of state support for the sector in different historical eras.

According to ISNA Persian Service, director of the archaeological team for Korbāldasht, Ali Asadi said that studies of the site, which was undertaken with the aim of identifying the economy of the region using archaeological evidence from the dams and sites, are complete.

According to him, during archaeological studies five main embankments over Kor River were identified, the oldest of which is Amir Embankment which dates back to the Achaemenid dynastic era (550-330 BCE).

The other embankments are from the Sassanid era (224-651 CE) as well as other pre-Islamic periods.

The findings further reveal that evidence pertaining to the main route from Marvdasht to Shiraz, a vestige of the Achaemenid era, have also been found, he said.

Studies in Korbal were conducted in cooperation with Parse-Pasargadae Foundation and Chicago University (read full story)


Another catastrophe descends on cultural heritage in Hamedan Province

Tehran, 17 Apr 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

As the Energy Ministry recently began filling the Sivand Dam reservoir in the ancient Bolaghi Valley, the Kalan Dam project is also rubbing salt into the wounds of cultural heritage near Malayer, southwestern Hamedan Province.

A team of Iranian archaeologists has been carrying out rescue excavations since March 1 on a 22-meter high mound named Patappeh, the Shatt-e Ghileh site, and a number of other ancient sites, all of which will be submerged by the dam's reservoir.

With a length of 826 meters and a height of 46 meters, the earth dam is being constructed 30 kilometers southwest of Malayer.

"Fourteen ancient sites have been identified during the initial studies, which lasted 20 days," team director Hassan Rezvani told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.

"This is the first time that rescue excavations have been carried out on a tepe of such a height in Iran, and according to our plan, the operations will be completed in the next two years," he added.

"The main part of the tepe includes ruins and a castle dating back to the Parthian and Sassanid eras. However, studies on strata show that the tepe had been inhabited since the fourth millennium BC," Rezvani explained.

"Several 10x10 meter trenches have been dug at Patappeh, and traces dating from the early Islamic period have been discovered during the excavations. In addition, the ruins of a Sassanid castle can be clearly observed in the stairstep trenches," he added.

The excavations are being sponsored by the officials of the dam.

Iran's cultural heritage has been greatly threatened by dam construction projects over the past few years.

In the most controversial case, the reservoir of the Sivand Dam is about to devour a large section of the Bolaghi Valley in Fars Province, which is home to over 130 archaeological sites, dating from prehistoric periods to the early Islamic era.

Energy Minister Parviz Fattah announced on April 16 that the filling of the Sivand Dam reservoir began after the ministry had received official permission from the CHTHO.

The ministry had postponed the filling of the dam reservoir until September in order to give experts more time to conduct archaeological excavations and research, but Culture Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) Director Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaii said last week that, in his point of view, the filling of the reservoir of the Sivand Dam does not pose a problem, and it is unnecessary to continue the rescue excavations in the area.

Rahim-Mashaii was appointed to the CHTHO after Mahmud Ahmadinejad won the presidency. He said in a press conference in March 2006 that he had previously not known anything about the Sivand Dam or the Bolaghi Valley.

The Sivand Dam was scheduled to become officially operational in time for the current visit of President Ahmadinejad to Fars Province. (read full story)


Achaemenid walls unearthed in northern Pasargadae

Tehran, 12 Mar 2007 (Mehr News Agency)

The joint Iranian-Japanese archaeological team working in the Bolaghi Valley in southern Iran's Fars Province recently discovered a number of stone walls dating back to the Achaemenid era in nearby northern Pasargadae, the Persian service of CHN reported on Monday.

One of the walls is about 10 kilometers long.

"The main aim of this phase of the excavations was to identify the origins of the routes between the Bolaghi Valley and Pasargadae. Thus we began to study the perimeters of Pasargadae's palaces, which resulted in the discovery of the walls," Iranian team director Mohsen Zeidi said.

"The ruins of irrigation canals and watchtowers have also been discovered in northern Pasargadae, and all the data have been recorded on a satellite map and by aerial photos," he added.

The team's activities are part of the Archaeological Rescue Excavations of the Bolaghi Valley, a project that has been implemented to save artifacts and glean information from over 130 ancient sites of the valley, which will be flooded by the reservoir of the Sivand Dam in the near future.

The walls had been erected in order to protect the palaces if necessary, and their length shows that it was difficult to enter the perimeters of the palaces, Zeidi explained.

Similar walls have been discovered in the Bolaghi Valley.

The team has also discovered about 200 graves constructed of stone dating back to the Parthian era and some prehistoric residential areas near Pasargadae.

In addition, they unearthed three kilometers of an Achaemenid road located beneath farmland, although many sections of the road are destroyed.

UNESCO recently agreed to extend the perimeter of Pasargadae, which was registered on the World Heritage List in 2004. (read full story)


Remains of a Parthian Fire Temple Discovered in Yazd

London, 14 Feb 2007 (CAIS)

Excavations of experts of provincial department of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization in Yazd (YCHTO) have resulted in discovery of a cave in Eslāmiyeh village near the city of Taft, where archaeologists believe they have succeeded in identifying the remains of a fire temple dating back to the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE).

"In response to the inquiry of Iran's Mines and Industries Ministry on the situation of the area for conducting their development projects, the YCHTO undertook some excavations near the city of Taft which led into identifying the remains of an earthen wall covered with chopped straw and plaster inside the cave which most probably must have belonged to a fire temple," said Babayi, archaeologist of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Yazd province.

Archaeologists have further succeeded in discovering a historical hill belonging to the Sassanid dynastic era (224-651 CE) which they believe it was possibly a service station on the way of Yazd to Esfahān, 40 kilometres from Gāv-e Khūni swamp. (read full story)


Efforts to Preserve Zanjan Saltmen

London, 7 Feb 2007 (CAIS)

Director of Zanjan province Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department said that studies by two British and German groups on the preservation of the saltmen which were discovered in quarries as well as tunnels created in Chehrabad Mine are still continuing.

According to Persian service of ISNA, Farhang Farrokhi added given the fact that the saltmen were found in salt quarries, they gradually lose their original color and shape.

For this reason, a group of researchers has undertaken studies to preserve them in their original state while another team is conducting studies to find out whether there are other tunnels in the area, in addition to safeguarding the two tunnels dug in the past years.

Stating that the items pertaining to the saltmen including fur and textiles are kept in museum-like place, he said that natural museums will be set up at the exact location of the discovery to maintain the saltmen and objects belonging to them.

He referred to Dashen-Kasan Temple near Soltanieh, Zanjan province, and said that the temple was built concurrent with Soltanieh Dome and a large section of it lies buried and only some pieces of rocks are visible in the area.

Farrokhi pointed out that measures have been taken to prevent erosion of Dehestan Fort in Mahneshan, Zanjan province. (read full story)


Experts Studying Achaemenid and Parthian Fabrics

Tehran, 1 Feb 2007 (Tehran Times)

A team of Iranian experts from Zanjan University and the Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicraft Department (ZCHTHD) are surveying the textiles found at the Chehrabad Salt Mine in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan.

"In addition to five salt men, about 300 pieces of fabric dating back to the Achaemenid and Parthian dynastic eras have been discovered at the mine so far and the experts are currently studying the artifacts," the director of the archaeological team working at the Chehrabad Salt Mine, Abolfazl Aali, told the Persian service of CHN on Wednesday.

Some of the pieces of fabric bear various designs and some of them measure one meter in length.

"Zanjan University is well-equipped and famous for its experts in chemical research and has provided excellent labs for ZCHTHD's archaeologists," Aali explained.

The weave of the fabrics as well as their colours and motifs will be studied during the project.

Textiles with such diversity are rarely found in ancient sites.

Five bodies dubbed "salt men", clad in various types of dress, have been unearthed by mineworkers over the past ten years.

Exploitation of the privately-owned mine was halted by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicraft Organization (CHTHO).

The first Salt Man lived about 1700 years ago and died sometime between the ages of 35 and 40. He is currently on display in a glass case at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.

The team of archaeologists is still searching for more salt men in the mine. There are plans to put all of the salt men on display at the Anthropology Museum of Zanjan. (read full story)


Archaeologists Wrap Up another Season of Excavation at Parthian site of Valiran

London, 20 Jan 2007 (CAIS)

Latest season of archaeological excavations which recently came to an end at the historic Valiran cemetery is anticipated to open new windows to the Parthian dynastic period (248 BCE–224 CE).

According Mohammad-Reza Nemati, head of the excavation team at Valiran Cemetery, evidence of this historic period are not seen commonly in present-day Iran. "Our information about the Parthian period is mainly limited to results of archaeological studies at Jazmurian, Zahak Castle, Mount Khajeh, and a few other places," added Nemati.

A Parthian communal grave, several coins and other artifacts believed to have been burial gifts, fragments of human skeletons, some rhytons and amphorae, all dating back to Parthian dynasty were discovered during initial emergency excavations at Valiran.

"Considering the four different burial methods including jar burial, loculus, stone-paved and surface burials observed at Valiran Cemetery and also seven coins belonging to Arsacid kings Mithradates the Great (123-88 BCE), Orodes I (88-80 BCE) and Artabanus II (10-38 CE), were discovered," explained Nemati.

The most prominent discovery at Valiran, according to Nemati, was that of a communal grave in which 21 human remains were found along with a number of burial offerings. "This grave is 60 centimetres wide and 1.60 meters deep. The main part of the grave measures 60x160 centimetres in dimension and is divided by clay walls. Three rhytons with ibex heads and seven coins belonging to Arsacid kings were found along other objects in this grave," added Nemati.

Objects made of silver, bronze, and iron including rings, bracelets, arrowheads, arrows, different kinds of knives, earrings, belt buckle, nails and needles as well as different kinds of vessels were also unearthed from this grave.

This type of communal grave was in use for continual reburial for 25 to 30 years. Usually the graves had an empty space in the middle for placing the dead, which were surrounded with a number of caverns in the walls. Every time before placing a new dead in the middle to be decomposed, the previous bones of the deceased were removed and replaced within the caverns.

In addition to the Parthian remains, evidence from Sasanian dynastic era (224-651 CE) such as remains of an architectural style was also found in this ancient site. "Eight silver coins belonging to the Sasanian dynastic period, from which three belonged to Khosrow II Parviz, together with three pieces of clay tablets in Sasanian-Pahlavi script, and a number of gemstones made of agate, glass and tar were discovered at Valiran," said team director, Nemati.

The historic cemetery of Valiran was discovered recently during the construction of a new branch for Elm-o Sanaat (Science and Technology) University in the city of Damāvand in Tehran province. (read full story)


Ecbatana Hill Confirmed to an Arsacid Site: Azarnoush

London, 16 Jan 2007 (CAIS)

Archaeologists involved in the 3rd phase of the second season of excavations at Ecbatana historical hill have confirmed the site dates back to the Arsacid dynastic era, according to a report by Persian service of ISNA.

Head of the archaeological team, Dr Masoud Azarnoush said his team did not find any evidence regarding the Median dynastic (728-550 BCE) occupation in the area; and therefore, archaeologists should look into Hamadan to find the Median Ecbatana."

Dr Azarnoush added, "although, the Arsacid dynasty lasted nearly five centuries, and constitutes a remarkable period of Iranian history, unfortunately not enough research has been carried out to compare to other Iranian dynasties, and therefore there are a great deal of questions about their culture and civilization are remained unanswered."

 

New Moves to Film the Partho-Sasanian Shipwreck in the Persian Gulf

London, 15 Jan 2007 (CAIS)

The underwater archaeology department of Iran's Archaeology Research Centre is trying to film a recently discovered shipwreck and its cargo, lying 70 meters below the Persian Gulf waters. The first video taken from the ship was made last October by a team of experts from Darya-Kav-e Jonub Company (Southern Sea Investigation Co.), but was not clear enough due to inappropriate atmospheric conditions in the Persian Gulf.

The shipwreck was discovered last September when the local fishermen announced that they found pieces of clay vessels in their fishing nets. Initial studies by the Darya-Kav-e Jonub Co. revealed that a large merchant ship with its' cargo is lying 70 meters below the Persian Gulf waters near the port of Sirāf.

From the very beginning, the Iranian cultural heritage authorities announced that the country's underwater archaeology does not posses enough experience and expertise to recover the shipwreck and thus needs to hire non-Iranian underwater archaeologists to do the job. Initial talks were held with Greek experts to carry out the project in Iran, but nothing further happened ever since.

Based on amphorae-like vessels seen in the film and the potshards brought up in fishing nets, archaeologists believe the ship most likely dates back to Sasanian dynastic era (224–651 CE), although some date it to the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE–224 CE). (read full story)


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