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Results of Last Year's Archaeological Research in Iran


03 April 2006




LONDON, (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. 


However, 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 one.

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. 


With 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 correspondent.

"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 problems.

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.

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.






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