The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(CAIS) -- Smugglers
in search of treasures in an area known as Shanzdah-Maylee (Šānzdah-Māylē
/ sixteen-mile) have discovered and plundered an ancient tappeh
(archaeological mound) in a depth of four meters, according to a recent report
by the Persian service of Mehr News Agency.
site is located between Batvand and Karāee villages, near the city of
Masjed-Soleiman in the south-western Iranian province of Khuzestan.
to the report, 75 year old farmer Farhad Pur-Rezaee alerted volunteers at
Khuzestan's Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association (TARIANA), regarding
the illegal excavation in his 56 hectares farmland.
years ago the same farmer reported illegal excavation in his land to Islamic
Republic officials who ignored the complaint, as a result he reported this
particular incident to TARIANA. The
TARIANA volunteers attended the site and inspected the damages and subsequently
reported to Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (KCHTO) to take
archaeologists working with TARIANA dated the site to the third Iranian dynasty,
the Parthians (Arsacids) 248 BCE-224CE, due to the type of stone-work and style
of construction which is similar to nearby ancient sites from that period. The
volunteers also discovered a large number of openings in the farmland, which
points to an ongoing operation by the smugglers. It is suspected that the holes
are kind of test-trenches to ascertain the location of ancient structures buried
beneath the farmland. It is expected to be looted soon if it has not been done
The farmer also told TARAINA that he has obtained planning permission from KCHTO to build a factory-farm only 300 meters away from the plundered tappeh. This demonstrates that the permit was issued without any survey on the site; otherwise the results would have revealed the presence of an ancient structure and consequently would have stopped the plundering.
believe that smugglers have people in KCHTO working with them, since this is
beyond KCHTO’s norm of incompetency.
informing the KCHTO, it came to light that the authority was aware of the
existence of Parthian constructions in the farmland and promised an
investigation. Three days later, KCHTO to everyone’s surprise claimed the
discovery and plunder was a rumour. ICHTHO also backed KCHTO and issued a
statement calling the news fictitious and asked news-agencies not to concern the
public with the plundering of sites in Iran. Both KCHTO and ICHTO refused to
explain the pictures that were taken from the site as evidence.
in March 2009 banned Iranian archaeologists from giving interviews, and anyone
in breach of the imposed law will lose their job and will face draconian
volunteers at TARIANA since its foundation in 2006 have single-handedly done the
jobs of the government run KCHTO as well as the provincial police in
safeguarding the Iranian heritage in Khuzestan Province. KCHTO
management has constantly penalised and attacked TARIANA for being a ‘Wikileak’-like
cultural body, but despite this they are still fighting for their noble cause.
The majority in the province consider TARIANA as the main cultural body rather
than KCHTO – with many sharing the view of a Khuzestani archaeologist who
said, “it is better to dismantle KCHTO and let TARIANA do the job of
safeguarding the Iranian heritage of the province in a real term, at no cost.”
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