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Plunder of Median Site in Qom Continues


09 April 2008



LONDON, (CAIS) -- The plunder of the Median dynastic era site of Zarbolagh is continuing unabatedly. The ancient Iranian site is frequently excavated by smugglers searching for artefacts, the Persian service of CHN reported on Tuesday. 


The ancient monument has been left defenceless and many holes have been dug by smugglers around the monument, according to members of cultural heritage societies who visited the site during the Norouz holidays in late March.


"The site is located in a remote region in central Iran near the city of Qom and the border of Tehran, thus it is difficult to safeguard the site against the smugglers," said archaeologist Mehrdard Malekzadeh who warned about the smugglers looting Zarbolagh.


After 1979 revolution smugglers have started plundering the site and even used bulldozers to unearth artefacts, which resulted in the destruction of sections of the structure.


In 2005 finally an archaeological team was deployed to the region led by Malekzadeh, his team has managed to discover a structure and burial site dating back to the first Iranian dynasty, the Medes (728-550 BCE). 


The structure had been deliberately concealed with material such as stones, bricks, and mud, but they have still not unravelled the mystery of the camouflaged monument. However, it is believed that it was a religious place - either a Zoroastrian or Mihtraist chapel.


The team has also discovered some rock-graves, which were burial sites for the Median’ Mobeds (Zoroastrian priests).


In relation to the burials back in 2005 Malekzaded stated the location of the tombs inside the rock is proof of the importance of the tomb owners because their people had gone through so much trouble to give them such a burial place, and the fact that nothing was buried alongside the dead has led the experts to conclude they were of unworldly status.


Zarbolagh since then has not been excavated and experts believe that the invaluable information will be lost by these continuous illegal excavations. The walls and foundations of the monument are collapsing and it is generally in terrible condition, the monument is in urgent need of restoration and many appeals for this have been made, but there has been no response so far, Malekzadeh lamented.





Portions of this news have been excerpted from Mehr News, CAIS News Archive and Persian service of CHN. [*]




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