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Archaeologists laments magnitude of illegal excavations in Mazandaran


30 August 2005


Iranian archaeologists say that the historical sites in Iran’s northern province of Mazandaran are frequently plundered by smugglers, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency announced on Tuesday.


“The plundered items were decorative stones, bracelets, earrings, and headdresses that date back to 3500 years ago which were buried in cemeteries during the Iron Age,” the director of the Archaeology Center of the Mazandaran Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department told CHN.


Earthenware items were also among the looted objects, which are often broken due to the crude excavation techniques of the smugglers, Ali Mahforuzi said.


“Smugglers have also unearthed gems and ancient seals, which are important for archaeologists,” he added.


Mahforuzi said that the existence of over 100,000 illegal excavation holes at Mazandaran’s historical sites indicates the magnitude of the problem. If half of the illegal digs yielded historical items, one can easily imagine the incredible amount of items that are being looted, he lamented.  


Smugglers usually hide in Mazandaran’s beautiful forests in order to avoid detection by the police.


The looters have inflicted irreparable damage on archeological research activities in Mazandaran Province.


In many cases, they have plundered totally unique items found nowhere else in the country.


Unfortunately, poverty and the lack of guards have caused a rise in illegal excavations. 




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