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.
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 Khosrow
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.