3 seasons of excavation in Sadrom Hill, one of Iran’s most
ancient cemeteries, archaeologists are deterred by a host of
bureaucratic hurdles, though they are still content with
unearthing some precious Achaemenid artifacts, Iranian Cultural
Heritage News Agency reported on Thursday.
The graveyard, located in the desert province of
Qom, dates back to 3,500 years ago and is deemed as one of the
most significant pre-historic cemeteries of Persia. Archaeologists
have already discovered so many graves and valuable antiquities
there, mostly hailing from the Achaemenid period (559-330 B.C.).
Mismanagement in the maintenance of the site, however, along with
a swarm of other problems, has discouraged the experts in the
searing heat of Iran’s central Kavir (desert).
“An archaeologist’s job is to explore and
excavate. He or she cannot handle precious artifacts without
scientific considerations. We have dug out precious vessels and
dishes in this cemetery, some dating back to the 2nd millennium
B.C., but now great threats endanger our efforts,” said Khosro
Pourbakhshandeh, head of the excavation team.
He added archaeologists are not able to take out
artifacts buried with the dead out of the graves, because some of
them are multi-layered, saying, “We believe the inhabitants of
the area used to have a rich cultural exchange with other people
dwelling in Iran’s central desert, thus these artifacts can say
volumes about the Achaemenids’ mysteries.”
The third season of the excavation has finally
come to an end, though archaeologists painstakingly shouldered so
many burdens. Pourbakhshandeh noted, “We managed to discover the
very first grave in which a man and woman were buried together,
indicating their wish to have an amorous burial. In another grave,
we found the remains of a suckling babe.”
He lamented the historical site is
smuggler-infested and the police has failed to prove sufficient
security for both the cemetery and the archaeologists. The hill,
mainly made of salt stones, is measured 192 meter in length and
115 in width and its height is just 6 meters. One of the tombs
found there is strikingly similar to that of Cyrus the Great,
founder of the Achaemenid Empire in Pasargadae.
Pourbakhshandeh prefers to call the artifacts
from the “cultural period of gray pottery” production, instead
of the Iron Age and argues the latter is still underway, while the
former is the history.