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Archaeologists may excavate Pasargadae’ Tall-e Takht


22 October 2005




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(MNA) --A team of Iranian archaeologists plans to excavate the ancient monument of Tall-e Takht near Pasargadae in the upcoming months if they can enter into an agreement with the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO), the director of the Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation announced on Saturday.

“Some time ago, we received an application from expatriate Iranian archaeologist Ali Rahbari to conduct excavations at the monument of Tall-e Takht. He introduced Professor David Stronach as his advisor for the team,” Mohammad-Hassan Talebian told the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage New (CHN) agency.

Currently at the University of California at Berkeley, Scottish archaeologist David Stronach is recognized as a pioneer of archaeology in Iran. Educated at Cambridge, Stronach was director of the British Institute of Persian Studies for twenty years beginning in 1961, during which time he also conducted excavations at Pasargadae, Nushijan Tepe, and Nineveh, as well as other sites in the Middle East.  

Stronach was to come to Iran last September in order to give a report on the studies he had carried out in search of a Parthian royal capital, Hecatompylos, in the area of modern-day Shahr-e Qumis near Damghan.


About 40 years ago, Stronach had carried out some excavations at Tall-e Takht. One of the artifacts he discovered at the monument was a handsome greenstone lid with a finely carved rosette design which was made of grey-green schist with a pale, almost powdery luminescence on the surface.


“We will do our best to obtain (officials’) agreement for the application. A number of our experts will also participate in the excavations,” Talebian said.


Tall-e Takht, the towering stone platform that protrudes from the west side of this hump-backed hill, offers one further proof of the scale and quality of Cyrus's building activities. Left unfinished upon Cyrus's death in 529 BC, this rigorously constructed palace platform provides a manifest link between the earlier ashlar terraces at Lydian Sardis and the huge later terrace Darius chose to erect at Persepolis.


In the case of the Tall-e Takht, however, Cyrus's suddenly obsolete platform/terrace came to be incorporated -- most probably during Darius's reign -- in a sprawling citadel with substantial mud-brick defenses. This fortified complex may in fact represent a notable storehouse, mentioned by Arrian, said to have been surrendered intact to Alexander the Great (Anabasis 3.18.10).


With reference to Tall-e Takht's later history, the excavations of the early 1960s served to document a burnt part of the citadel in or near 300 BC (an event likely to have marked the end of direct Seleucid control in Fars); the subsequent introduction of a more independent local occupation that may have extended down to 180 BC; and the establishment of a short-lived fortified settlement tentatively dated to the beginning of the Islamic era (seventh and eighth centuries CE).


Some archaeologists believe that Tall-e Takht was a prison dating back to the Achaemenid era, and others say that the monument is the mausoleum of the mother of Cyrus the Great or one of his other relatives.


At the present time, Tall-e Takht is in bad condition because of the excavations previously carried out on the site.


“The mud-brick walls unearthed during the excavations have been destroyed due to lack of appropriate protection,” the director of the Pasargadae Research Base lamented.


“Tall-e Takht needs to be safeguarded before the new phase of excavations begins, otherwise the excavations can be destructive,” Babak Kial added.


“Safeguarding Tall-e Takht is high on our list of priorities. The Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation will protect the monument if the CHTO consents to the excavations,” Talebian emphasized.



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