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Tree Roots to Root Out Achaemenid Bardak Siah Castle


03 December 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- Aerial images taken in 1976 from the historic site of Dashtestan (daštestān) in present day Bushehr province showed five archaeological hills nearby from which almost nothing has remained due to uncontrolled cultivation of tamarisk and palm trees. Only a quarter of one of these ancient hills has survived in the past three decades while the ancient site of Dashtestan is rapidly being changed into a forest. The site is also the location of an ancient palace, known as Bardak Siah (bardak sīyāh), which is denoted to the Achaemenid Emperor Darius the Great (549-486 BCE).


“When excavations first began in the area in 1976, we could easily identify and see its archaeological hills since the number of trees in the region were considerably less than what they are today. However, this historic site has now turned into a palm garden and large number of its ancient evidence has been destroyed since the locals have levelled off the ground [for agricultural purposes],” said Ehsan Yaghmayi, head of the excavation team at Bardak Siah Castle who also directed the excavations of the 1976 in this ancient monument.


After 28 years of recess, excavations at Bardak Siah were resumed early last year but lasted for only a few months. This is while local farmers continue to use the land for planting tamarisk and palm trees which ruthlessly destroy the region’s archaeological relics with their hard roots.


Expressing his concern over the postponement of archeological activities at Barkas Siah and its surrounding historic site, Yaghmayi said that the remaining archeological evidence of the area will also be destroyed if excavations do not begin immediately.


In the meantime, Yaghmayi has been tirelessly urging the Iranian cultural heritage officials to buy up the problematic farmlands before time runs out. According to him, the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization finally purchased some of the lands adjacent to Bardak Siah. However, this was done without consulting with archeologists to determine which areas contain archaeological evidence in order to better maintain the ruins of this Achaemenid palace.


Bardak Siah was discovered in 1977 when aerial images of Dashtestan revealed the existence of architectural remains in the area. The ruins were later confirmed to have been a palace, called Bardak Siah, built by the Achaemenid Emperor, Darius the Great. The palace resembles Apadana of Persepolis and has 36 columns, 16 of which were found during the first season of excavation along with a number of inscriptions and bas-reliefs.


The columns were made of wood timbers and were covered with brick and plaster layers. They once had capitals resembling eagles and lions, remains of which including an eye and feather of the eagle, plus the muzzle and some teeth of the lion have so far been discovered.


Nearly two years ago, a broken stone inscription, believed to be part of a pillar, in New Babylonian language was discovered in the same area. The text was later deciphered by experts of ancient languages. The inscription, which is missing large parts, says: “… I put … on top of the gate…” Since in the Achaemenid dynastic era, each tablet was usually inscribed in three languages of New Babylonian, New Elamite and Ancient Persian, archaeologists are hoping to find the rest of the tablet in the area.


Excavations in Dashtestan in the southern province of Bushehr also led to the discovery of a relief denoted also to Darius the Great which, according to Yaghmayi, is now being kept at the Bardak Siah Palace. “This invaluable relief which is extremely similar to Darius the Great’ relief at Persepolis could easily be stolen any time and we must think about ways to protect it,” added head of Bardak Siah excavations.


Bardak Siah Palace is one of most glorious palaces of the Achaemenid period. Remains discovered in the area shows that the palace was constructed at the time the Achaemenids were at the height of their power. Also, military instruments found in the site are evidence of the wars between Persians and Greeks in the region. Other architectural remains, some stone inscriptions, and four pieces of gold weighing three kilograms discovered beside one of the pedestals of the central hall of the palace are among other treasures unearthed in the area.


Archeologists believe that the gold pieces are most probably the golden layers of the wooden doors of the palace or the monumental plates of the building which were usually written on thick golden pieces during the Achaemenid time. Three of the pieces are thick pleated tablets and the fourth looks like part of an Achaemenid chalice.


Experts strongly believe that continuation of agricultural activities such as irrigation and farming will cause more irrecoverable damages to the ancient monument of Bardak Siah.


More than twenty other palaces and halls from the Achaemenid dynasty have been identified buried under the palm trees of Dashtestan area.



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Extracted From/Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN)

Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.

     All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, transparent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.



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