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Illegal Excavations in Biggest Prehistoric Cemetery



Wednesday, 22 September 1999

TEHRAN -- Head of the archeological team working in the biggest prehistoric cemetery in Aq-Evlar region in Gilan Province, Mohammad-Reza Khal'atbari, said that illegal excavations are being conducted in this 2,500-year old cemetery. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Khal'atbari noted that several ancient and historical relics of the cemetery have been exported abroad. The cemetery is located in an area of 400 hectares in the mountainous Talesh region in Gilan Province. He expressed hope that through taking security measures, the excavations by smugglers would be stopped in this region, adding that it is necessary to implement a long-term plan to protect the cemetery from the smugglers and illegal excavators.

Khal'atbari further said that the cemetery dates back to the second half of the first millenium B.C., and that the graves indicate that there was a great civilization in this region. He said that the relics unearthed in this cemetery include several pottery works, luxury dishes and war and hunting equipment. "The presence of such things beside the bodies in graves show that the people of that time believed in the Resurrection Day," he added.

Referring to the large area which is under excavation, Khal'atbari noted that some 10 years are needed to complete the excavations in this region. He said that Talesh region is very ancient and provides the experts with an opportunity to carry out researches in the areas of anthropology, archeology and traditional arts. Meanwhile, Farzad Forouzanfar, the anthropologist of the team, said that during the first phase of the excavations in Aq-Evlar region, some 30 single, family and mass graves were unearthed.

The graves included 36 skeletons belonging to men and women between the ages of 30 and 35 and children below the age of 12. Forouzanfar concluded by saying that the first phase of the excavations in Aq-Evlar region started in June.







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