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Parthian Site of Valiran Left Unprotected


06 November 2006



LONDON, (CAIS) -- The historic site of Valiran, denoted to the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE–224 CE) which stunned archeologists by its accidental discovery and invaluable artifacts found later, is now left unprotected.


Valiran which became known as an ancient cemetery was recently found by accident in Damavand, Tehran province, when bulldozers were leveling the ground as part of a project to extend the campus of Elm-o Sanaat (Science and Technology) University. Following this discovery, construction works stopped in the vicinity of the University and a team of archeologists from Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) was dispatched to the area for further investigations which soon revealed the site to have belonged to the Parthian dynastic era.


Initial excavations at Valiran were left incomplete in early September this year to be picked up later when the budget is provided. In the meantime, the Iranian cultural heritage authorities were expecting to meet with the University authorities to discuss further plans and agreements on how to protect the new discovered site from possible plundering; however, according to the director of Iran’s Archeology Research Center, Hasan Fazeli Nashli, this has not yet happened and no decisions have been made in preserving the Parthian site of Valiran.

Fazeli Nashli expressed his concern over the arrival of the cold season which will further destroy the historic site of Valiran and said: “Despite the fact that the advent of the cold season would put the historic evidence of Valiran at a great risk, no talks have been held between the two sides for its necessary protection.”


Head of Valiran archeology excavation team, Mohammad Reza Nemati, also noted that although the historic site of Valiran is witnessing a growing number of visitors these days, no security plan has been provisioned to safeguard it from possible threats. He also accounted lack of cooperation on the University’s end as the main reason for the poor security of the area.


On the other hand, the authorities of Science and Technology University have several times stressed their objections to the excavations which took place at this ancient site without a written notice to the University. Mohammad Beigi, the University’s executive manager, says that the University never received any letter from the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization regarding any plan to excavate the area.


Meanwhile, head of the excavation team at Valiran warned that lack of security has increased the possibility of illegal activities in this historic site.


Large numbers of coins and other artifacts believed to have been burial gifts, fragments of human skeletons, some rhytons and amphora-like vessel, all dating back to Parthian dynasty were discovered during initial emergency excavations at Valiran.


In addition to the Parthian remains, evidence from Sassanid dynastic era (224-651 CE) such as remains of an architectural style, coins engraved with the design of the Sassanid king of kings, Khosrow II Parviz, and three pieces of clay tablets in Pahlavi-Sassanid (Middle-Persian) language were also found in this ancient site. A communal grave in use for nearly 200 years for continual reburial was also discovered at the site.


Three different burial methods including jar burial (pithos burial), loculus (a slot-like burial niche), and surface burial have been observed in this Parthian cemetery as well.



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