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Ancient Iranian Site, Old as Mesopotamian Civilisation


17 November 2004



Shellfish is not seen on most Iranians dining tables but it was part of the daily diet of the inhabitants of ancient Jiroft in southern Iran 5,000 years ago that showed the existence of an ancient civilization.

Jiroft, located in Kerman province, is one of the richest historical areas in the world, with ruins and artifacts dating back to the third millennium BC and with over 100 historical sites located along the approximately 400 km of the Halil Rood riverbank.

Many Iranian and foreign experts see the findings in Jiroft as signs of a civilization as great as Sumerian and ancient Mesopotamian. They believe that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta that was described as a great civilization in an Iraqi clay inscription.

Jiroft came into the spotlight nearly three years ago when reports of extensive illegal excavation and plundering of priceless historical items of the area by local people surfaced.

Despite being 180 km from the sea, shellfish was a common meal in ancient Jiroft, said Iranian paleozoologist Marjan Shakur, who currently teaches at the Sorbonne in France.

"The remains of over 70 different types of shells were discovered and identified during the recent excavations at the historical site of Jiroft," he said.

"At least seven types of the discovered shells were edible, showing that Jiroft residents were in the habit of eating shellfish 5,000 years ago and they were used for decoration as well."

The discovery, according to him, proved that the residents of Jiroft had commercial exchanges with coastal regions of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman despite the distances.

"The review and analysis of the shells conducted by the Museum of Natural Science in France and their comparison with modern Persian Gulf species show that some of the discovered shells are no longer found in the region, proving that they are extinct."


Since 2002, two excavation seasons have been carried out at the Jiroft site leading to the discovery of a ziggurat, or terraced pyramid, made of more than four million mud bricks dating back to about 2300 BC.



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