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5,000-Year-Old Espidež Cemetery Plundered


16 May 2005




LONDON, (CAIS) -- Smugglers have looted valuable artifacts from seven graves at the 5000-year-old Espidež cemetery, 25 kilometers from Zabol in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan, the director of a team of archaeologists working at the ancient site announced on Sunday.

“The smugglers excavated seven graves in the cemetery of the ancient site and looted their contents last week. Each grave has 20 to 80 artifacts, and I can say that no comparable examples can be found anywhere in the world,” Mohammad Heydari added.


The region is somewhat inaccessible, thus no security measures have been taken for the Espidež site. Every two days, five graves on average are looted by smugglers.


“The smugglers are often armed and no one is able to stop them. Cultural heritage officials have not implemented any protection measures for the ancient site. If things continue like this, no trace of the site will remain by the time our archaeologists restart their work,” Heydari lamented.


Experts predict that no grave will remain intact in three months.


In March, the team discovered a grave at the Espidež site containing a skeleton of a metalworker buried with all his tools, including an awl, a brass ladle, and a whetstone.




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