Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& CULTURAL NEWS OF IRANIAN WORLD©
Regime's Sahand Dam, Drowns 4000 Year-old Iranian Heritage
06 May 2006
(CAIS) -- Archeologists succeeded in identifying some
civilization layers belonging to the Bronze Age in Kul Tepe historical site,
located in East Azarbaijan province, northwest of Iran, during the second season
of excavations in this site. Latest excavation season in Kul Tepe had started
since March 2006 and finished last week to save the remains of this historic
site before flooding of the nearby Sahand Dam.
“We tried to identify the civilization periods of the 5000-year-old Kul
historical site during this season of excavations through Carbon 14 testing on
all the discovered clays and bones in the site. This resulted in identifying the
most important civilization period of this historical hill which dates back to
the Bronze Age, fourth millennium BCE,” said Mohammad Feizkhah, head of
excavation team behind the Sahand Dam in Hasht Roud region of East Azarbaijan
According to Feizkhah, the settlement of Seljuk (1037-1187 CE), Ilkhanid
(1256-1353 CE), and Parthian (150 BCE–CE 226) periods in Kul Tepe was proved
by the recent studies. “After digging some 2x3 centimetre trenches to depth of
9 meters, we found some evidence belonging to the Bronze Age. However, we
believe that if we had gone deeper down, we would have reached to more ancient
layers,” added Feizkhah.
Feizkhah explained that since Kul Tepe will submerge with the inundation of
Sahand Dam which is supposed to take place this spring, archeologists did not
have enough time to finish their excavations; therefore they just carried out
some stratigraphy works to determine the cultural layers of this historical
It is not the first time that Iran’s historical sites are threatened by
construction of a dam. In fact, this issue has become one of the main concerns
of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and advocators of
Construction of Sivand Dam in Bolaghi Gorge in Fars province was one of the most
sensational projects in this respect. This project attracted the attention of
the public both inside and outside the country since experts believe that the
Dam would be a real threat to Pasargadae historical site. Although Iranian
cultural heritage experts under pressure from the regime announced that the dam
would not deal any blow to the Pasargadae historical site. Nonetheless, its
inundation Bolaghi Gorge will submerge over 147 invaluable historical sites and
the level of humidity produced from the artificial lake behind the dam will have
an irreversible effect on Pasargadae's stonework which are made out of limestone.
The cultural heritage enthusiasts are trying to stop the repetition of such a
problem in Kul Tepe. Archaeological experts believe that some ten historical
sites will drown with the inundation of Sahand Dam among which Kul Tepe and
Pilotepsi are the most important in terms of the historic value they have.
After consulting with some geologists, head of excavation team at Kul Tepe
believes that creating a one-meter-high wall with soil around Kul Tepe would
save it from possible damages by the water from the Sahand Dam.
In response to the objections of ICHTO and the public, dam authorities say they
can not stop their ongoing mega projects since construction of dams would not
only result in promoting the living conditions of the local people, but it also
creates some job opportunities for the youth. So all they can do is to designate
a budget for carrying out excavations in these historical sites. “Some
equipments and financial supports have been allocated to the salvation project
of Kul Tepe historical site by East Azarbaijan Regional Water Organization, but
if ICHTO needs more facilities it should demand though official procedures,”
said Gholamhossien Hashemi who is in charge of construction of the Sahand Dam.
Yet many people correctly argue that Iran must prioritize its programs based on
their impact and effectiveness. In any case, many hope that we would not run to
the same problems in the future, should the dam authorities consult with the
cultural heritage experts before they start another project.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies