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Ancient Iranian Treasures in Central Asia are threatened by climate change


12 March 2011



Achaemenid Carpet Pazyryk.jpg (102513 bytes)

Achaemenid Carpet from Pazyryk.jpg (129833 bytes)

 Achaemenid carpet from Pazyryk (5th-4th century BCE) The world's most ancient pile carpet was found in the largest of the Pazyryk burial mounds. Its decoration is rich and varied: the central field is occupied by 24 cross-shaped figures, each of which consists of 4 stylized lotus buds. This composition is framed by a border of griffins, followed by a border of 24 fallow deer. The widest border contains representations Persian horsemen. The once bright reds, dark blues and greens of the carpet are now faded, but must originally have provided a glowing range of colours.  (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Archaeological treasures that have been frozen for millennia are being destroyed because of climate change, research suggests.

Remains in some of the coldest places on earth are being exposed as warmer temperatures cause ice and hardened ground to thaw. The fragile materials at risk include ancient tombs, artefacts and human remains. They are often culturally significant, especially for indigenous populations.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh’s Business School studied cases of damaged remains in three locations around the world – at permafrost in the Altai Mountains in central Asia, sea ice in Alaska and glaciers in the Rocky Mountains.

They found coastal erosion caused by retreating sea ice is damaging remains in an Inuit village in Alaska, including a fourth-century coastal cemetery. Melting glaciers in the Rocky Mountains pose a threat to Native American human remains and artefacts such as hunting tools, weapons and clothing.

Researchers also discovered that thawing temperatures represent a risk to burial mounds in the Altai Mountains of central Asia. The site, containing the only frozen tombs in the world, is the resting place of Eurasian nomadic horsemen with links to modern-day Siberian nomads. The graves contain treasures such as gold and ancient carpets.

Scientists are calling for a global organisation to be set up to maintain a record of vulnerable sites and coordinate efforts to conserve items that are at risk, particularly indigenous remains.

Dr Dave Reay, Director of the University’s MSc in Carbon Management, who supervised the study, said: “Warming climates are expected to lead to more melting ice, and we need to take action to safeguard ancient treasures. Long-term efforts are needed to locate archaeological remains that are at risk, and research how best to care for them. We must also consider the political and cultural implications of preserving important relics.”










Original news bulletin published by Past Horizons  rectified and edited by CAIS [*]




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