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Second Season of Archaeological Excavation in Parthian 'Sarab-Mort' Underway


22 February 2008



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Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlv


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Once again the Islamic regime's threat of dam construction to pre-Islamic Iranian cultural heritage has raised its ugly head to dominate the last month of the Iranian excavation calendar.


Iranian archaeologists have begun their second and last season of archaeological salvage operation at Sarab-Mort archaeological site, in Kermanshah Province, as the site will be submerged once the newly built Kaleh Shak Dam becomes operational in the first half of the next Iranian calendar year (March 20).


During the first season in April 2007, in which archaeologists claimed that the structure was Sasanian, the ceremonial hall of the manor house was excavated by experts from the Iran's Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (KCHTO), said Yusef Moradi, director of archaeological research team at Sarab-Mort. Moradi asserted the structure was constructed during the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE - 224 CE).


"Sarab-Mort is situated within the vicinity of the stream known under the same name. In the previous season we focused our research on the northern mound, in which we managed to discover a manor house dating back to the Parthian dynastic era. The manor house consisted of a private and an administrative section. During the last season, in the administrative section, we have unearthed an Ayvan, a ceremonial hall, courtyards and hallways which were leading to number of offices," said Moradi.  


He then concluded, "in this season of salvage operation, we will conclude our excavation by unearthing the private section of the edifice, which will last three months."


Existence of plasters in the ceremonial hall indicate that the walls of this building were most probably covered with stucco decorations which have been destroyed over time. This manor house was covered an area about 5000 square meters. 


Sarab-Mort archaeological site, which is consist of thee archaeological mounds (Tappeh), is located 3 kilometres east of Gilangharb in Kermanshah province. The area is renowned for its mort (myrtle) trees. Myrtle was considered as a sacred tree by the ancient Iranians, and its leaves and fruits were used during Mithra and Anahita cultic ceremonies.    


Islamic Iran and the Plague of Dam Construction

The Islamic regime's massive scale of dam constructions is tearing up Iranian heritage sites throughout Iran, which forces Iranian archaeologists to carry out 'salvage excavations'. Most of these salvage works are conducted hastily without proper planning, or are left incomplete as the result of pressure from the regime.


The language of various excavation reports, documents and news coming out of Iran makes it obvious that Iranian archaeological teams are uncovering completely new sets of material culture and data about Iran's past on a daily basis -- and although archaeologists have a chance of finding these basic but very important pieces of information, their incomplete research makes the scale of destruction more disastrous.


Accountability, transparency and cultural heritage management are key to safeguarding any nations' historical past. There is every reason to expect pre-conceived programmes to successfully sample appropriate key endangered sites well in advance of destruction. Such systems are very successfully implemented in Western European countries, to strike a realistic balance between development and protecting cultural heritage -- but regrettably, it is not evident amidst the ruins of this ‘dammed nation', hindered by the theoretic regime in Tehran.



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