Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
of Last Year's Archaeological Research in Iran
03 April 2006
(CAIS) -- The Iranian year which finished on March 20
this year, was full of ups and downs for Iranians in archaeological fields. Not
only the number of archaeological excavations increased during last year
compared to the previous years, Bolaghi Gorge Salvation Project was also a big
job on the shoulders of Iranian’ Archaeological Research Centres.
Iranian archaeological sites witnessed important seasons of excavations with the
presence of Iranian and foreign archaeologists. The excavations in the Burnt
City (Shahr-e Sukhteh) in Sistan va Baluchistan province, in the historical city
of Gour (Ardeshir Khurreh) in Fars province, in prehistorically cemetery of Tool
Talesh in Gilan Province, Gohar Tepe historical site in Mazandaran province and
many more all led to some important archaeological discoveries.
among all of these excavations and archaeological activities, the Bolaghi Gorge
Salvation Project was the most prominent projects which attracted the attention
of Iranian nationals both inside and outside the country. The rush of several
international archaeological groups from Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Poland,
and other countries alongside with Iranian archaeologists to rescue the Bolaghi
Gorge historical site in Fars province turned the project into an international
Bolaghi Gorge in Fars province is the location of the ancient Achaemenid
Imperial Road and one of the historical sites of the Pasargadae. Recent
construction of a dam by Islamic regime, named Sivand, in the vicinity of this
historical site has seriously threatened Iranian heritage buried in different
layers of the Bolaghi Gorge.
the flooding of Sivand Dam, hundreds of historical relics unearthed so far would
have drowned. Fortunately, a number of domestic and foreign archaeological teams
rushed to help Iranians to retain at least some parts of their ancient heritage
before its permanent destruction by the Islamic regime project. With the immense
pressure by the nation and international community on the regime and Sivand Dam
authorities a cooperation was born between the authority and Bolaghi Gorge
Salvation Teams, some joint teams from Iran and international community, have
been busy with archaeological excavations in the site to save the main remains
of Bolaghi Gorge before inauguration of the dam.
According to Dr Massoud Azarnoosh, director of Iran’s Archaeology Research Centre,
“last year was full of new experiences not only for Iran but for the whole
world in archaeological aspects.” Azarnoosh believes that Bolaghi Gorge
Salvation Project was the most important international experience for Iran in
the field of archaeology.
Holding three prominent international archaeological seminars in north and
northeast of Iran, Siraf International Seminar and the International seminar of
Bolaghi Gorge Salvation project were the other important activities of the Archaeology
Research Centre and the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran
during last year.
In addition, the most completed restoration research Centre of the Middle East
for maintenance and restoring of the historical-cultural evidence opened in
Tehran last year.
In the field of museums, Iran held some important exhibitions form its
historical relics with the cooperation of Iran's National Museum and museums of
the other countries such as "Forgotten Empire: the World of Ancient
Persia" which was held in the British Museum for five months and now it is
exhibited in Spain in which the glory of ancient Iran has been displayed. And
the successful finish of the exhibition "7000 Years of Iranian Art"
toured around the European countries and returned back home after 4 years.
In addition to all these activities, following the efforts of the archaeological
experts and the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran, some
important rules and regulations have been approved and implemented for the first
time to protect and preserve the archaeological sites.
"The number of developing projects is increasing in the country compared to
the previous years. On the other hand, lack of a comprehensive archaeological
map has caused problem on how to protect the historical sites. One of our main
duties in this respect is to inform the authorities about the existence of archaeological
sites in the vicinity of a project such as a dam construction. Thus the Archaeology
Research Centre has started some measures to prepare a comprehensive archaeological
map and a team is busy with this project," said Azarnoosh to CHN
"After being informed about the dam project on the Bolaghi Gorge, we
started vast archaeological excavations in the area which resulted in discovery
of 130 historical sites. Due to the shortage of time and in order to speed up
the salvation project, we called on both domestic and foreign archaeologists to
cooperate in this project which was welcomed by the enthusiasts. This issue not
only provided us the opportunity to carry out the excavations more rapidly but
also resulted in turning the Bolaghi Gorge Salvation Project into an
international project," added Azarnoosh.
Moreover, an international seminar was also held during the last weeks of year
1384 on the situation of Bolaghi Gorge and its salvation project with the
presence of domestic and international archaeologists, journalists, and
authorities of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran which
resulted in the postponement of the inundation of Sivand Dam until the finishing
of the salvation project.
About the inundation of Sivand Dam and its negative effects on Pasargadae
historical site, Azarnoosh explained: "What is obvious is that archaeologists
and archaeological Centres are more concern about preserving historical sites. I
have announced several times that flooding of the dam will pose no threat to
Pasargadae historical site and Cyrus the Great Tomb. The tomb of Cyrus the Great
is 5 kilometers away from the reservoir of Sivand Dam at its highest level and
two ranges of tall mountains are situated between them. On the other hand,
according to the experts, the Pasargadae plain is about 25-30 meters above the
level of the reservoir, which indicates that the dam would deal no blow to this
historical site. However, the Research Centre is studying the outcomes of the
inundation of Sivand Dam such as the increasing of the humidity and flowing of
underground waters and their influence on the site. But I ensure Iranian nation
and archaeology enthusiasts that considering the height of Pasargadae plain and
the existence of these mountains between the dam and Pasargadae, the possibility
of causing serious damages to this historical site by the inundation of Sivand
Dam is very weak."
Azarnoosh also expressed his satisfaction that Iran's Cultural Heritage and
Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and Archaeological Research Centre reached to an
agreement with the Islamic Regime Ministry of Energy based on which the Ministry
of Energy promised to coordinate its developing projects with ICHTO in order to
preserve the Iranian historical sites and to prevent the repetition of such
As the result of pressure from Iranian nation, for the first time, last year the
Islamic regime's cabinet ministers approved some acts for the protection of
Iranian cultural heritage and announced it to different organizations to
coordinate their projects with ICHTO from now on.
Altogether, the number of archaeological excavations in Iran show a stunning
increase compared to the previous years. "According to the available
statistics, this year 55 archaeological excavations were carried out in the
country, which shows a 100 percent increase to what was done in year 2000, which
were only 25 excavations. The number of soundings and stratigraphical works from
14 cases in 2000 reached to 25 this year. The Archaeology Research Centre
succeeded in carrying out 36 scientific projects this year while there was none
in 2000 and 15 in 2001. Totally, more than 120 scientific and research programs
were the accomplishments of Archaeology Research Centre during this year with
the cooperation of some universities and other organizations. We are proud to
announce that this record is a part of scientific development of the country
which has increased 30 times between the years 1985-2004," explained
Azarnoosh refused to give a straight answer when he was asked to name the most
important archaeological project for the Archaeology Research Centre. "It
is just impossible for me to say exactly which project was most important. From
an archaeologist’s point of view, all projects are important. For instance,
the importance of finding stone instruments dating back to the prehistoric
period is equal to discovery of an artistic fire temple or a golden cup
belonging to the Achaemenid period. Each of them has its own importance for us
which makes it really difficult to say which one was more important and which
one was less," said Azarnoosh.
At the end, director of Iran’s Archaeology Research Centre expressed hope that
the projects continue actively this year with the cooperation of archaeologists,
different organizations and international associations.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies