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War Ordnance Hampers Archaeological Explorations in Western Iran


09 May 2004



The western Iranian province of Ilam has long been a major thoroughfare linking Iran to other lands. Some experts believe what is known as the Achaemenid way used to pass through Mehran in the province.

That is why many archeologists long to carry out studies in the area. However, dud ordnance littered in the area from the eight year war with Iraq means that the undertaking is highly risky.

A group of experts from the University of Chicago who was scheduled to carry our research in the area under the supervision of Iranian archeologist Abbas Alizadeh canceled its plans earlier for safety reasons.

Over the course of war, a large part of the Ilam province became mine fields. The low lying Ilam plains were not discovered in the recent history.

As the ice age drew to a close, primitive man strolled down the mountains towards the plains. Archeologists believe Ilam was the first low-lying plain human kind landed in. Asked on the historical significance of Ilam as well as the Choqa Ahovan and Choqa Gawaneh area, Alizadeh said he had planned to conduct studies to see if Ilam was the first human settlement in the plains.

“If we could find relics more than 9000 years old, we might be near the validation of the hypothesis,” Alizadeh said.

Currently, the low-lying Dehloran and Khuzestan plains have so far yielded finds some 7000-8000 old.

Yet, the existence of mine fields around Mehran has made explorations in the area dangerous.

Iranian army suggests some 1.5 million hectares in the country were littered with ordnance from the war. Army officials so far half of the area has been cleared. The continued archeological explorations in Ilam depend of clearance of the whole area.



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