mysterious ancient Iranian province of Margianan
and its civilisation which flowered in the desert
of what is now known as Turkmenistan, some 4,000
years ago was the cradle of the ancient Iranian
religion of Zoroastrianism, Greco-Russian
archeologist Victor Sarigiannidis claimed.
He said the theory would provoke controversy
amongst his fellow archeologists, but said his
excavations around the site of Gonur Tepe have
uncovered temples and evidence of sacrifices that
would consistent with a Zoroastrian cult.
The religion was founded by Zarathustra, an
Iranian prophet who was the world's first
monotheists, and is still practiced today in Iran
and India. A team of archeologists in the eastern
Turkmenistan region have discovered the
foundations of a huge palace, seven temples and a
Sarigiannidis believes the civilisation emerged
with the arrival in the region of people seeking
an escape from drought in Mesopotamia (now Syria).
"Ninety-five percent of the ruins of the
mausoleum look similar to those of Mesopatamia,"
Sarigiannidis, a member of the Russian Science
He also pointed out the similarity in the palace
gate with the Minoan Palace of Knossos on the
Greek Island Crete.
The latest finds from excavations in 2004 are on
exhibit in the Turkmen capital and suggest a
highly refined civilisation. They feature superb
mosaics depicting griffins, wolves and lions, as
well a marble statue of a ram and finely
highlighted vases in gold and silver.
Sarigiannidis has called on the Greek government
to continue to fund his excavations at the site
and said the 17,000 euros per year grant he had
been accorded until 2007 by the former socialist
government had been cut by the current minister of