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Parthia in the News - 2005

Click here to see index of Parthia in the News articles from all years.

2005

Over 100 Parthian Statuettes Discovered in Halil-Rud, Kerman (19 Dec 2005)
Discovery of Parthian Stucco Decorations in Shushtar (18 Dec 2005)
Parthian Architectural Remains Discovered in Gilan (9 Dec 2005)
Parthian Site May Have Wrongly Been Identified as Median Ecbatana (2 Dec 2005)
Discovery of a Late-Parthian or Early-Sasanian Fire Temple in Kermanshah (22 Nov 2005)
Japanese return to complete studies at Gilan's ancient sites (20 Nov 2005)
Gorgan Home to Asia's Second Great Wall (15 Nov 2005)
Update: Discovery of the Parthian Architectural Remains in Gilan (13 Nov 2005)
Parthian era wall unearthed in Gilan (11 Nov 2005)
Looted Relics from Iraqi Museums Slow To Surface (10 Nov 2005)
A Parthian Chahar-Taqi in Jahrom on the verge of destruction (7 Nov 2005)
Mystery of Jar Burial in Gohar Tepe (6 Nov 2005)
Dam construction uncovers Sassanid-style graves near Kermanshah (6 Nov 2005)
Mount Khwajeh, the Biggest Unbaked Mud Structure from Parthian Times (3 Nov 2005)
Discovery of Kermanshah's Largest Partho-Sassanid Fire Temple (31 Oct 2005)
Over 700 historical monuments identified in North Khorassan (31 Oct 2005)
Parthian Mithraeum on the verge of Destruction (30 Oct 2005)
Arsacid Fire Temple Emerges at Dam Construction Site in Kermanshah (30 Oct 2005)
Three Parthian Columns were Discovered by Smugglers (27 Oct 2005)
Discovered Ancient Burials from Meshkin-Shahr Belonging to Parthian Period (23 Oct 2005)
Central Province has breathtaking attractions to offer (21 Oct 2005)
Discovery of a Parthian Crypt in Qom (20 Oct 2005)
Discovery of Parthian Murals at Zahak Castle (17 Oct 2005)
Iranian Heritage is being Turned into Cement (15 Oct 2005)
Iran's Anahita Temple hosted 12,000 visitors (13 Oct 2005)
Parthian Khorhe's Sixth Season of Archaeological Excavation is Completed (11 Oct 2005)
Scholars call on president to save ancient academic city of Jondishapur (5 Oct 2005)
Bolaghi-Gorge the Biggest Archaeological Salvage Operation in Iran (4 Oct 2005)
A Lesson from Roman History : An Earlier Empire's War on Iraq (4 Oct 2005)
Archaeologists Discovered Pieces of Parthian Colored Mosaic in Zahhak Castle (4 Oct 2005)
Achaemenid era tepes discovered near Soltanieh Dome (3 Oct 2005)
ICOMOS proposes adding Bistun to UNESCO natural heritage list (3 Oct 2005)
Ancient outpost marks time (2 Oct 2005)
Cultural catastrophe: ancient tepes plowed in Susa (2 Oct 2005)
Excavation work resumes at Ecbatana (1 Oct 2005)
Smugglers causing irrevocable damage to Zahak Castle (28 Sep 2005)
Iran's 72-hectare Acropolis deserted (17 Sep 2005)
Hotel construction could blight Zoroastrian cemetery in southern Iran (12 Sep 2005)
Stone mines used to construct Anahita Temple discovered (20 Aug 2005)
33 Ancient Coins Seized from Smugglers (15 Aug 2005)
Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency (10 Aug 2005)
Key Parthian Dynasty Site Undergoes Restoration (7 Aug 2005)
Stronach to guide Iranian archaeologists' search for Parthian city (6 Aug 2005)
Archaeologists restoring ruins near Zahak Castle (6 Aug 2005)
Zoroaster's Kaba, world's most unique ancient calendrical building: archaeologist (31 Jul 2005)
Roman legion founded Chinese city (25 Jul 2005)
Lost Median medallion found after 30 years (1 Jul 2005)
Excavations underway to locate ancient Greek temple in western Iran (25 Jun 2005)
Rock music enhances suicidal sentiments, new study suggests  (21 Jun 2005)
American Archaeologist Authenticates Afghanistan's Recovered National Treasures (May/June 2005)
Parthian and Sassanid Inscribed Vocabulary Collected in a Dictionary (30 May 2005)
Choob Tarash Excavation Operations (29 May 2005)
Bronze Coffin with Golden Blindfold Found in Western Iran (14 May 2005)
Gharbal Biz of Yazd Dates Back to Achaemenid, not Parthian, Times (10 May 2005)
Inflation Rate in Parthian Times: Less than One Percent (9 May 2005)
Italian digs unearth ancient Parthian court (7 May 2005)
Dams violating Iran's cultural heritage (2 May 2005)
Parthian city discovered on Minab plain (27 Apr 2005)
Parthian era Phraaspa Castle discovered in Atropatene region (20 Apr 2005)
Important Parthian City Found in Eastern Azarbaijan (19 Apr 2005)
Iranian history to go under hammer at Christie's (19 Apr 2005)
Ten Parthian Casks Discovered in Rig Port Waters (10 Apr 2005)
Parthian jars discovered in southern Iran (10 Apr 2005)
Over 400 bas-relief works discovered in southeastern Iran (6 Apr 2005)
Temple -- Tourist Attraction (16 Mar 2005)
Archaeologists save 2500-year-old shards of Tang-e Bolaghi (23 Feb 2005)
3000-year-old shards discovered in northern Iran (6 Feb 2005)
Pahlavi language words still used in central Iran (5 Feb 2005)
International Committee to Save Historical Remains of Tang-e-Bolaghi (18 Jan 2005)
Parthian Circular City Found in Khorasan (10 Jan 2005)
Parthian and Sassanid Sites Discovered (9 Jan 2005)
Parthian Era Subterranean Village Discovered Near Maragheh (1 Jan 2005)


Over 100 Parthian Statuettes Discovered in Halil-Rud, Kerman

19 Dec 2005

The latest archaeological excavations in the basin of Halil-Rud River resulted in the discovery of more than one hundred clay statuettes belonging to the Parthian dynastic era. The excavations have also led to the discovery of 53 pre-historic sites, cemeteries, workshops, and residential areas.

Historical site of Halil-Rud, located on the basin of the river, enjoys a rich civilization. Some stone and clay evidence and architectural remains belonging to the third millennium BC were unearthed during the archeological excavations as well as the illegal diggings of the smugglers.

120 historical sites have been identified so far in the 400 kilometer length of Halil-Rud River’s basin.

“Animal and human clay statuettes were the most important discoveries during these excavations. These statuettes which were either simple or had complicated designs were buried with the dead as gifts during the Parthian period. Since several statuettes were buried in each grave, we can not give the exact number of these statuettes,” said Nader Soleimani, head of archaeological excavation team in Halil-Rud.

A large number of these graves have already been unearthed by the illegal diggers and their items have been plundered.

“These statuettes were discovered during archeological studies in Hossien Abad Plain in a historical site. It seems that the place might have been an Parthian workshop for making the clay statuettes as burial gifts. Some clay articles and dishes were also produced in these workshops. What is important in this respect is the large number of these statuettes. Making these kinds of statuettes was common during the Parthian dynastic era,” explained Soleimani.

Halil-Rud, located in Kerman province, is the largest river in Iran. The civilization that lived beside this river is believed to be one of the most ancient ones in the world.


Discovery of Parthian Stucco Decorations in Shushtar

London, 18 Dec 2005 (CAIS)

Archaeological excavations resulted in the discovery of 2000-year-old stucco decoration on a wall belonging to the Parthian dynastic era in the historical city of Shooshtar in Khuzestan province. Archaeologists believe that the moldings should have belonged to the aristocrats of Dastva city.

A part of a stucco decorated window belonging to 2000 years ago had also been discovered during the previous exactions last year. It was the first plaster window discovered in a historical site in Iran, which can help archaeologists to identify the architectural styles of ancient historical monuments.

“The latest excavations in Dastva historical city led to the discovery of wonderful stucco decorations. The design of these stucco decorations is different on the walls. Ornamentations on the walls are roundel shape with toothed edges,” said Mehdi Rahbar, head of archaeological excavation team in Dastva.

According to Rahbar, this stucco decoration was in the hallway, and has geometric patterns and animal designs, most probably the shapes of two lions. Since the archeologists did not know about the existence of stucco decorations in this city, the discovery came as a great surprise.

Archeologists strongly believe that this style of architecture should not have belonged to ordinary people and most probably they belonged to the aristocratic class or people with high social ranks.

“Since most parts of the Dastva lands are under agriculture, there is no specific place for carrying out archeological excavations; therefore, we are just digging boring pits in different areas,” explained Rahbar.

Fifteen years ago, a farmer accidentally dug up some graves belonging to the Elamite period, which resulted in the discovery of some valuable items such as gold coins and clay dishes. These graves had been abandoned since that time.

Some interesting underground graves were unearthed during the archeological excavations of Rahbar in 1986. The discovery encouraged archaeologists to carry out excavations on this cemetery to obtain some comprehensive information about this historical site and the history of Kuzestan province.

Dastva historical city is one of the most important historical sites of Shooshtar. Since no systematic archeological excavations have been carried out in the site so far, the discovered relics are under the threat of devastating.


Parthian Architectural Remains Discovered in Gilan

London, 9 Dec 2005 (CAIS)

With the start of the first season of archeological excavations in Kaluraz Tepe in Gilan province, some architectural remains belonging to the Parthian dynastic era were discovered in this historical site.

Discovery of the architectural evidence in Gilan province has always been a concern of the excavators'. Therefore the discovery of architectural evidence in the Kaluraz Tepe of Rostam Abad, for the first time in a stratiographied wall, has a special significance for archaeologists. Based on the evidence from this wall, a program has been implemented by the Archaeological Research Center to identify the ancient architecture in Gilan province.

"Following the implementation of the approved programs by the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran and after last year's stratographies and identification of architectural layers in this historical hill, the first season of excavation in this historical site have started since 27th of October 2005 and is still going on," says Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, head of the excavation team in historical site of Kaluraz Tepe in Gilan province.

"Following the initial measures and providing the topographic map of the region, the first phase started and within the first step we reached to an earthen wall. We are still continuing excavations to discover the rest of the wall, and we hope to be able to recover the whole wall completely," added Khalatbari.

Referring to previous excavations, Khalatbari says that there was a continuous life in the region from the Iron Age to the Parthian era, and then it became abundant. Therefore it is supposed that the discovered wall belongs to the Parthian era.

Until now all the stratigraphies in the walls of Gilan province were done horizontally in order to determine the perimeters of the ancient cemeteries. Kaluraz Tepe is the first historical site in Gilan province, in which archaeologists could create a vertical stratographied wall and study different archaeological layers in it.

During the archaeological excavations in this historical site last year, some aspects of the mysteries of this hill was revealed that most probably there was a time when the hill was an aristocratic residency.

If archaeologists discover more architectural evidence in the site, it will help to uncover secrets of the architectural methods of the area, besides providing evidence of the Kadousi government and residence of the Iron Age people there.

Gilan is one of the provinces of Iran located in south-west of Caspian Sea in north of Iran, known during ancient times as part of Hyrcania.

Archaeological excavations reveal the antiquity of the province of the province to date back to prior to the last Ice Age. In the 6th century BCE, the inhabitants of Gilan allied with Cyrus the Great and overthrew the Median dynasty. The province then passed from the control of one dynasty to the next.

Also, remains of a residential fortress, which is an indication of a large city once existing there around 3000 years ago, were found in Kaluraz Tepe.


Parthian Site May Have Wrongly Been Identified as Median Ecbatana

London, 2 Dec 2005 (CAIS)

Archaeologists' latest excavations at the historical site in Hamedan which had up to now been identified as Hegmataneh (Ecbatana), the ancient capital of the Medes, show that it was probably constructed during the Parthian era, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Friday.

According to history books, Ecbatana became the first Iranian capital by the Median dynasty in the late 8th century BCE, but the recent researches show that the site identified as Ecbatana was inhabited during the Parthian dynastic era and was probably built in that time or slightly earlier, team director Dr Masud Azarnush said.

"Several remains of earthenware as well as brass coins from the Parthian dynastic era were discovered during the recent excavations in an area covering 100 square meters," he noted.

The architectural structures of the city were probably constructed in the Parthian era as well, he said.

According to Azarnush, the new structures were built on the previous walls and foundations during different eras in the city, that is, the Sassanid layer was built on the Parthian layer. The last layers belong to the Qajar and Pahlavi dynasties.

He noted that further studies must be carried out at other parts of the site to reveal more of the history of the region.

Azarnush believes that one of the other nearby ancient mounds in Hamedan may be the real Ecbatana of the Medes. None of these mounds has been excavated yet.

According to Herodotus, Ecbatana became the capital of the Median empire in the late 8th century BCE, although some historians believe the city was founded in the first millennium BCE.

During the Achaemenid dynastic era, it was the summer capital of the Empire and the site of an important treasury, later looted by Alexander the Macedonian warlord.

Ecbatana was the satrapal seat of the province of Media from Achaemenid to Sassanid times.


Discovery of a Late-Parthian or Early-Sasanian Fire Temple in Kermanshah

London, 22 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

Archaeologists working behind the Shian Dam in Kermanshah have unearthed the second fire temple in that region, belonging to the late-Parthian or early Sasanian dynastic eras.

There is no record of such a temple in historical accounts.

"This fire-Temple with its unique stucco decorations is one of the largest fire-temples that has ever been discovered in that part of mainland-Iran located in one of the settlements near the Shian Dam. The plan, type and architectural elements such as water canals leading into the temple demonstrates that it was not only denoted to the Lord Ahura-Mazda, but also to the two Zoroastrian Yazads, Anahita and Mithra", Hassan Rezvani, the head of the archaeological rescue-operation team has stated in a news conference.

"Evidently after the Arab invasion of Iran the fire temple was partly demolished to prepare the way for construction of a mosque, and the surrounding areas were used as a burial ground", he added.

He stated, "The discovery of a column, water canals, and earthenware decorated with bull and the "Wheel of Sun/Mithra" (Swastika) pointing out to its Anahita and Mithraic cultic connection."

Rezvani concluded, "Since the construction is a Zoroastrian fire-temple, a place for worshiping the God Ahura-Mazda, as well as venerating the Anahita and Mithra, we can date its' construction to the late Parthian or early Sasanian dynastic eras", i.e. prior to the Emperor Ardeshir's (the founder of Sasanian dynasty) iconoclastic movement.

Archaeologists believe that the flowing Shian fountainhead encouraged the first settlements in the region in about 2400 BCE. They have identified a great number of historical and ancient sites in the region from the Parthian to the Post-Sasanian periods.

Shian Dam is scheduled to come on stream in 2007, which will submerge all these eminent historical sites and Iranians will be deprived of their Pre-Islamic heritage in that region forever.


Japanese return to complete studies at Gilan's ancient sites

London, 20 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

After a four-month hiatus, the team of Japanese experts, who had previously worked on the ancient sites of northern Iran's Gilan Province along with a number of Iranian archaeologists, has recently returned to Iran to resume their studies on December 29.

"This will be the second stage of the last phase of research. The team completed its first stage in late August this year," Ali Jahani, an Iranian member of the archaeological team, told the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency, adding that the findings of the last phase would be restudied during the new phase.

"The first stage was dedicated to the restudy of previous years' findings of the late Iranian archaeologist Ali Hakimi at the cemetery of the Kaluraz ancient site, which are kept at the National Museum of Iran. Now the Japanese team has returned to begin the second stage along with the Iranian team," Jahani explained.

The joint team plans to revise the information gleaned from the findings of the last four phases of excavations in the Rostamabad region. The Iranian part of the team, led by Mohammadreza Khalatbari, is currently working on Kaluraz, which is one of the many ancient sites of the Rostamabad region.

In early November, Khalatbari's team unearthed ruins of a number of architectural structures believed to date back to the Parthian era. They previously unearthed 3000-year-old gray shards in the lower strata of the site, which dates back to the first millennium BC. The archaeologists believe these items indicate that Kaluraz was a residential area during the Iron Age.

"The most significant achievement of the Japanese is the map of Gilan's archaeological sites that they prepared during the previous phases of excavations. The map details 90 sites which have been discovered in Gilan over the years," Jahani said.

The joint team also made the first discovery of a Neolithic Age site in Gilan near the Sefidrud River in September 2004. The archaeologists have estimated that the Neolithic site is nearly 7500 years old.

The Japanese collaboration, which will be concluded with the end of the new stage, is based on an agreement they singed with Iranian officials for excavations at Gilan's ancient sites in 2001.


Gorgan Home to Asia's Second Great Wall

London, 15 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

Jabraeil Nokandeh, an archeologist from Golestan province said that 'Gorgan Wall' is the second historical wall in the Asia and the highest historical structure in the Gorgan region of northeastern Iran.

Nokandeh told IRNA that Gorgan Historical Wall has been mentioned as 'Anoushirvan Dam', 'Firouz Dam', 'Eskandar Dam' and 'Defense Wall' in historical references and scientific accounts.

According to him, the wall extends for 200 kilometers from Billi Mountain slope in Golestan Forest to Safa Ishan village in Ghomishan along the banks of Gorgan River.

The main material used in constructing the wall is bricks measuring 40X40X10 centimeters. Stone is hardly noticed on the structure. Archeological studies of the historical wall was first launched in 1976-1977 under Mohammad Yousef Kiani, which unfortunately did not continue numerous reasons, he said, adding that in some sites, the remains of an ancient dam and water canals were discovered during excavations near the wall in 1999.

The wall was built during the Parthian Dynasty to protect mainland ran from invasion by north. It was restored during the Sassanid era (3-7th centuries AD). Its construction is contemporaneous with that of the Great Wall of China, and it is second only to that edifice as the largest defensive wall in existence. (click here to read full story)


Update: Discovery of the Parthian Architectural Remains in Gilan

London, 13 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

With the start of the first season of archeological excavations in Kaluraz Tepe in Gilan province, some architectural remains belonging to the Parthian period were discovered in this historical site.

Koluz TappehDiscovery of the architectural evidence in Gilan province has always been a concern of the excavators'. Therefore the discovery of architectural evidence in the Kaluraz Tepe of Rostam Abad, for the first time in a stratographied wall, has a special significance for archaeologists. Based on the evidence from this wall, a program has been implemented by the Archaeological Research Center to identify the ancient architecture in Gilan province.

"Following the implementation of the approved programs by the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran and after last year's stratographies and identification of architectural layers in this historical hill, the first season of excavation in this historical site have started since 27th of October 2005 and is still going on," says Mohammad Reza Khalatbari, head of the excavation team in historical site of Kaluraz Tepe in Gilan province.

"Following the initial measures and providing the topographic map of the region, the first phase started and within the first step we reached to an earthen wall. We are still continuing excavations to discover the rest of the wall, and we hope to be able to recover the whole wall completely," added Khalatbari.

Referring to previous excavations, Khalatbari says that there was a continuous life in the region from the Iron Age to the Parthian era, and then it became abundant. Therefore it is supposed that the discovered wall belongs to the Parthian era.

Until now all the stratigraphies in the walls of Gilan province were done horizontally in order to determine the perimeters of the ancient cemeteries. Kaluraz Tepe is the first historical site in Gilan province, in which archaeologists could create a vertical stratographied wall and study different archaeological layers in it.

During the archaeological excavations in this historical site last year, some aspects of the mysteries of this hill was revealed that most probably there was a time when the hill was an aristocratic residency.

If archaeologists discover more architectural evidence in the site, it will help to uncover secrets of the architectural methods of the area, besides providing evidence of the Kadousi government and residence of the Iron Age people there.

Gilan is one of the provinces of Iran located in south-west of Caspian Sea in north of Iran, known during ancient times as part of Hyrcania.

Archaeological excavations reveal the antiquity of the province of the province to date back to prior to the last Ice Age. In the 6th century before the Christ, the inhabitants of Gilan allied with Cyrus the Great and overthrew the Medes. The province then passed from the control of one dynasty to the next.

Remains of a residential fortress, which is an indication of a large city once existing there around 3000 years ago, were found in Kaluraz Tepe. (click here to read full article)


Parthian era wall unearthed in Gilan

Tehran, 11 Nov 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

The team of archaeologists currently working at the Kalvarz Hill of Rustamabad in Gilan Province recently unearthed part of a mud-brick wall, the Persian service of CHN announced on Friday.

Team director Mohammadreza Khalatbari said that excavation work is continuing to unearth the whole wall.

"The archaeologists surmise that the architecture of the wall dates back to the Parthian era. Studies of shards discovered earlier prove that the site was inhabited until the Parthian era but was abandoned afterwards," he noted.

The team previously unearthed 3000-year-old shards at the site and hope that they can also discover more ruins in order to shed light on the architectural style of the site.

The gray earthenware discovered in the lower strata of the hill dates back to the first millennium BC, indicating that the hill was a residential area during the Iron Age, he said.

But no signs of architecture related to the Iron Age have been found, he added, saying that more research must be carried out to discover the architecture of the residential area.

Animal fossils have also been discovered at the site. Over 44 archaeological and historical sites from the first millennium BC have been discovered and identified in the Rustamabad region of northern Iran. (click here to read full article) (same article in Tehran Times)


Looted Relics from Iraqi Museums Slow To Surface

London, 10 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

More than 2 1/2 years after looters sacked Iraq's National Museum in Baghdad, Iraqi authorities and police forces throughout the world are still searching for thousands of stolen items, including a handful of the most famous artifacts in the world history.

U.S. military sources say forces in Iraq have no systematic way of investigating the missing objects, and in the ongoing insurgency neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces can justify using scarce manpower to guard sites in the countryside, where widespread looting has continued unchecked since the March 2003 U.S. invasion.

Law enforcement organizations worldwide are allegedly chasing the lost items, but their representatives claimed there is no systematic coordination, and they are relying on a shifting set of ad hoc partnerships to bring the thieves to account.

[ . . . ]

The 25 missing items include Bahrani's Sumerian statue, the gold-and-ivory carved plaque of a lioness attacking a Nubian, and the almost life-size Parthian head of the Goddess of Victory, from Hatra, made of copper.

"You're never going to see these in a gallery," Bahrani said. "No art dealer would ever touch them, because they're just too well known. We're talking about a black market. These pieces will never see the light of day."

The second category includes about 8,000 small items taken from the museum basement in what Bogdanos calls "clearly an inside job." Thieves with keys "cherry-picked" obscure storerooms for pendants, amulets, decorative pins and about 5,000 distinctively Mesopotamian "cylinder seals."

These carved finger-sized pieces of stone leave a distinctive design when rolled over soft clay. Each has a museum number written on it in nearly indelible India ink, and the whole collection, Bogdanos said, would fit in a backpack.

[ . . . ]

However, most probably the looted artifacts have found their way into U.S. and European markets, without raising any suspicion. (click here to read full article)


A Parthian Chahar-Taqi in Jahrom on the verge of destruction

London, 7 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

"A Parthian Chahhar-Taqi in the village of 'Alaviyeh of Jahrom is on the verge of complete destruction as the result of authority's negligence, and vandalism by the locals. A section of this ancient monument has already been collapsed" reported by ISNA Persian service.

The structure dates back to the Arsacid dynastic era, and was in use for religious as well as astronomical purposes. (click here to read full article)


Mystery of Jar Burial in Gohar Tepe

London, 6 Nov 2005 (CAIS)

The discovery of the burial place of an adult in a jar in Gohar Tepe of Mazandaran, has faced the archaeologists active in this area with new questions.

Gohar tappeh jar burialGohar Tepe in Mazandaran province is one of the most important historical sites of Iran. Evidence shows that from 7000 years ago to the first millennium before Christ, a lot of people lived in the region, enjoying urban life structures since 5000 years ago; the discovery of architectural structures and graves in this region are evidence of continual life during the later centuries there.

"Previous to this a kind of jar burial was discovered in the region, with an infant in it. Due to the discovery we came to the conclusion that the children might have been buried in jars within the Iron Age (3450 to 2550 years ago). Now the recent discovery of the skeleton of an adult man in the jar faced us with new questions," says Ali Mahforouzi, head of excavation team of Gohar Tepe in Mazandaran.

"The clay remains which have been discovered in the vicinity of this jar burial indicates that they should have belonged to the Iron Age, but we have not discovered any kind of adult jar burial during this period so far," added Mahforouzi.

Referring to the discovery of Parthian evidence in the historical site of Gohar Tepe, Mahforouzi explains that since such method of burial was common during Parthian era, it is supposed that adult jar burial dates back to this historical period but the issue has remained a mystery due to the remains of clays belonging to Iron Age in the region.

Regarding the anthropological studies on jar burial, Farzad Forouzanfar, an anthropologist of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran says, "This way of burial goes back to the Iron Age, but since no adult jar burial was discovered until now, we can not say for sure."

Previous to this archaeologists discovered a 3000-year-old skeleton with a bronze strap and a semicircle bronze horseshoe from under its head, which raised a lot of questions for archaeologist about such an unknown burial method.

A pair of skeletons belonging to a man and a woman, who were buried in a joint grave, in Gohar Tepe was another discovery which brought some questions to the archaeologists.

Discovery of the cow statuettes in the historical site of Gohar Tepe proved that the people of the region regarded cows as holy creatures 3000 years ago.

The excavations in the site started 2 months ago. The region entered the urbanization phase about 5000 years ago during which it had close trade relations with the inhabitants of Mazandaran and Golestan provinces. (click here to read full article)


Dam construction uncovers Sassanid-style graves near Kermanshah

6 Nov 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists recently discovered Sassanid graves at the future site of the Shian Dam's reservoir near the western Iranian city of Kermanshah, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Saturday.

The head of the team said that almost thirty graves dating back to the early Islamic era were also found near the Parthian fire temple, a new discovery over the past few weeks.

Due to certain types of structures in the fire temple, the archaeologists surmise that the monument had been used as a mosque (after the advent of Islam in Iran), Hassan Rezvani added.

He also stated that all the corpses but two were aligned toward south with burial gifts inside the graves, a tradition of pre-Islamic era persisting up to that time. In addition, a coin bearing the holy verses of Fatehah surah belonging to the early Islamic era was also found near the graves.

Archaeologists believe that the flowing Shian fountainhead encouraged the first settlements in the region in about 2400 BC. They have identified a great number of historic and ancient sites in the region from the Parthian to the Islamic eras.

Shian Dam is scheduled to come on stream in 2007.  (click here to read full article)


Mount Khwajeh, the Biggest Unbaked Mud Structure from Parthian Times

Zahedan, Sistan-Baluchestan province, 2 Nov 2005 (IRNA)

Kuh-e KhwjehKuh-e Khwajeh (or Khajeh) Mountain Complex, the biggest model of unbaked mud architecture remaining in Sistan region. This structure is one of the most remarkable relics from the Parthian eras. Kuh-e Khwajeh in ancient time was known as Kuh-i Ushidar.

It is the only natural height left behind in Sistan area, where a palace, fire temple, pilgrimage center and graveyard reminiscent of the past are still in good condition.

The trapezoid-shaped basalt lava, situated 609 meters from the sea level, with a diameter ranging from two to 2.5 kilometres stands 17kms to the southwest of Zabol in the middle of Hamun Khwajeh Lake.

The complex was identified as Parthian for the first time by a British archaeologist in 1916. (click here to read full article) (click here to read Persian Journal version)


Discovery of Kermanshah's Largest Partho-Sassanid Fire Temple

31 Oct 2005 (CHN)

Archaeological excavations behind Shian Dam of Kermanshah (Kermânshâh) province led to the discovery of a big fire temple belonging to Parthian-Sassanid dynastic periods. This is the first fire temple which has been discovered in the vicinity of Kermanshah city. Previous to the discovery no one was aware of the existence of such a fire temple in Shian village.

Kermanshah fire templeThe aim of these excavations is to save the historical site behind Shian Dam in Shian village of Kermanshah province. There is some evidence from the second millennium before the Christ to the beginning of Islam at the back of the dam. Archaeologists believe that the historical sites and different residencies were formed due to the existence of Sarab-e Shian in the region. Sarab-e Shian has existed since 2400 years ago.

"During the excavations for salvation of the historical site behind Shian Dam in Kermanshah, in one of the near residencies of the dam, a fire temple belonging to Parthian-Sasanid era was discovered, which was unknown until know. This fire temple is 14.5 in 14.5 square meters alongside an adjacent of 5 in 14.5 square meters. Therefore the whole area of the fire temple reaches to 19.5 in 14.5 square meters. Some unique plaster works can be seen in this fire temple," says Hassan Rezvani, head of excavation team of Shian Dam in Kermanshah.

There is also an irrigation channel belonging to the Parthian era near to the fire temple, which archaeologists have not found the relation of this channel with the fire temple yet. The channel is stoneworked with two rows of stones and the bottom of it is covered with 40 in 40 in 7 centimeters bricks. The bottom of the channel is 60 meters long. There are some caulks from the stones of the river which were put to getter in a way to direct the water to the channel from the source head.

"There are several plaster works in the fire temple. The pillar of the brazier was designed with Lotos flower plaster works. Five pillars of braziers are located aside the circumambulation corridor. The pillar of this fire temple was built of mortar, semi hit plaster, and a very hard stone," added Rezvani.

The excavations led to the discovery of some metal dishes which archaeologists believe that they should have been used on braziers. Archaeological studies indicate that the flooring of the fire temple should have been done later. During Islam period some changes was brought to the fire temple. A plaster raised platform was built in the center of the fire temple, which archaeologists believe that this way the fire temple was changed to a mosque. Regarding Islamic ways of burial in the vicinity of the fire temple it is supposed that there must be a mosque or pilgrimage place.

"A 5 in 10 meters plaster floor can be seen in the eastern entrance of the fire temple. There is an adjacent hall in the northern part of the fire temple which was the place for oblations in the fire temple. There is a stonework wall in the front of the eastern gate. And there are some small constructions between the eastern gate and the stonework wall which most probably was used during the Achaemenid era," says Rezvani. (click here to read full article)


Over 700 historical monuments identified in North Khorassan

Bojnourd, North Khorassan province, 31 Oct 2005 (IRNA)

Director general of North Khorassan province Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, Masoud Faghani, here Sunday said that more than 700 ancient monuments have so far been identified across the province.

He told IRNA that the most ancient one dating back to Parthian era is located in the provincial city of Jajrom and is 2,000 years old.

"Out of the identified relics, 110 have so far been registered as national monuments. In addition, five more have recently been proposed for addition to the list," he added.

He noted that concurrent with measures to identify the historical relics of the area, attempts are underway to introduce the monuments of cultural and historical value for registration.

Turning to the great number of the provincial historical and touristic attractions, he noted, "Our main objective is to restore the touristic status the area deserves by introducing the provincial appeals to Iranians." Espakho temple located at Maneh and Samalqan, Darolhokoumeh building and Mofakhams mirror parlor in the provincial town of Bojnourd and the historical Jalaleddin Fortress are among the most important ancient relics in the area. (click here to read full article)


Parthian Mithraeum on the verge of Destruction

London, 30 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

"The subterranean temple of Mithra in village of Verjuy (Verjouy or Varju'i), Maragheh is in ruins, as the result of illegal building projects within the protected zone of the ancient temple, as well as penetration of the surface waters into the cavern and traffic passing over the temple", Neser Zavari the head of Maragheh ICTO told reporters.

"Until now too little has been done to protect this important site. If we want to save this monument from destruction we must change the route of the road passing over the temple, and taking necessary measures to prevent further surface water finding its way inside the caver", He added.

Verjuy Mithraeum carved out of the living rock made of Schist, dates back to the Arsacid Dynasty with a 5.4-meter wide entrance.

"This splendid man-made caved-temple, due to its volume of work and abstruseness can be considered as one of the most exceptional and precious temples of the ancient world", he concluded.

Followers of Mithraism built this temple during the Arsacid dynasty by cutting a huge schist stone on the ground into an entrance 5.40 meters wide. A steep embankment reaches an underground corridor with a crescent-shaped ceiling at the entrance of the cave. The height of the corridor's ceiling is 2.5 meters from the ground and the corridor is 17.60 meters long. The central corridor has many pit-like entrances that lead to underground rooms with dome-like ceilings. Holes were made in many of these ceilings in the Islamic period to allow light to enter the temple. (click here to read full article)


Arsacid Fire Temple Emerges at Dam Construction Site in Kermanshah

London, 30 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

A Parthian fire temple was discovered at the future site of the reservoir of the Shian Dam, which is being constructed near the western Iranian city of Kermanshah (Kermânshâh), the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Sunday.

"An archaeological team tasked with saving ancient sites at the reservoir site discovered the fire temple, which had never been referred to in any document before," team director Hassan Rezvani said.

"Covering an area of about 283 square meters, the fire temple seems have been in use until the Sassanid era. The foundations of the monument have been strengthened with stone and mortar and the floor has been covered with numerous blocks made of plaster. The fire temple has a collection of unique plasterworks. The pillars of the five censers have been ornamented with stuccos featuring lotus motifs. The censers are located beside the circumambulation area," he explained.

"The floor of the fire temple was restored by the dynasties that came to power after the Parthians. Due to some structures in the fire temple, the archaeologists surmise that the monument had been used as a mosque (after the advent of Islam in Iran). They also infer numerous Islamic burials near the fire temple.

"The fire temple has a structure adjacent to the northern part, which the archaeologists believe was a place for vows. The monument also has some structures believed to date back to the Achaemenid era."

Archaeologists believe that the flowing Shian fountainhead encouraged the first settlements in the region in about 2400 BC. They have identified a great number of historic and ancient sites in the region from the Parthian to the Islamic eras.

Shian Dam is scheduled to come on stream in 2007. A number of other dams, all in advanced stages of construction, have been identified as threatening Iran's ancient sites in several provinces including Fars in the south, Gilan in the north, Khuzestan in the southwest, and East Azarbaijan in the northwest. (click here to read full article)


Three Parthian Columns were Discovered by Smugglers

London, 27 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

"Three Parthian columns were confiscated from smugglers. They belonged to the Ancient temple of "Bard-Neshāndé" located in Masjed Soleiman", Hossein Foruzandeh head of the "Guardians of National Heritage Unit" told in a press conference.

Foruzandeh stated "the discovered columns are varies in lengths, one of them is over 4 meters long, the second one 2.5 meters, and the third one over 1meter long. All handed over to the ICHTO".

"These three confiscated columns were discovered by the smugglers", he added.

"The ancient site of Bard-Neshāndé is an open-air temple, erected during the reign of Arsacid dynasty. The raised and walled platform consists of freestanding masonry columns employed in the temple without mortar, with a 4 meters wide flight of steps made of stone. This site through time has been suffered extensively, from natural causes such as earthquake, as well as damages which have been caused by the locals", archaeologist Mohesen Hosseini, an expert from Khuzestan Province ICHTO told news reporters.

He continued, "today over %80 of the site has been destroyed, and the remaining %20 has been turned into a massive Tappeh (archaeological/historical hill). Its broken pieces of masonry scattered throughout the landscape surrounding the temple and even near the highway."

"A number of columns from the temple already have been taken to Susa Fort for protection", Hosseini concluded. (click here to read full article)


Discovered Ancient Burials from Meshkin-Shahr Belonging to Parthian Period

London, 23 Oct 2003 (CAIS)

"Research carried out on number of human remains found in Asghariyeh district of Meshkin-Shar (Meshkinshahr) confirmed their Parthian origin, date back to 2nd century BCE", Asghar Nemati head of archaeological team told news reporters.

"This was an archaeological salvage operation led by ICHTO, when the city's swage workers came across these two ancient graves", said Nemadi.

"Both graves had coverings, one made of earthenware, and the other one with a polished stone. In both graves, we have found humans remains, buried with decorated pottery vessels. The alizarin painted decorations over the Parthian buff and grey coloured Ardebil-wares are consist of geometrical designs such as a star shapes, as well as human and animal presentations", he added.

Meshkin-Shahr (old Khiav) is one of the most ancient cities in Iran. It is located in the north-west of Iran in Ardebil province (ancient Artavillâ) and its distance to Tehran is 839 kilometres. It is the nearest city to the Sabalân high mountain.

"Mehkin-Shar" and especially "Germi", are the two most important towns in Ardebil province, which is commonly accepted among scholars to date back to the the Parthian period. (click here to read full article)


Central Province has breathtaking attractions to offer

Tehran, 21 Oct 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Iran's Central Province enjoys so many impressive sites and attractions that it would take several days to visit all of them, according to the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency, which briefly described the main ones in a report on Friday.

[ . . . ]

Khorheh Temple

Khorheh Temple is located in a beautiful village of the same name.

It was long thought that Khorheh was the ruins of a fire-temple from the Seleucid era, but according to the latest discoveries, it appears to be a residential mansion built in the first century BC and occupied until the Parthian era.

Because of its similarities to Greek architecture, Iranian and foreign and archaeologists originally believed that it was a temple.

There is a pond beside the structure which reflects the image of a nearby sunflower farm.

[ . . . ]

The best time to visit Central Province is early fall, when it gradually starts getting cooler and the pomegranate orchards, sunflower farms, and gardens are in full bloom. (click here to read full article)


Discovery of a Parthian Crypt in Qom

London, 20 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

Archaeologists working in Veshnoveh area of Qom have discovered a crypt belonging to the Arsacid dynasty.

"The crypt dated back to late 1st century BCE, was used either as an Ānāhitā or Mithraic temple", said Ali Rustaei, head of Veshnoveh archaeological expedition.

The discovery has taken place in last week of fifth season of archaeological research in Veshnoveh.

More than 50 ancient mines have been identified in Veshnoveh which date back to pre-historic eras and there are evidences that prove the mines were exploited seasonally, he added. (click here to read the full article).


Discovery of Parthian Murals at Zahak Castle

London, 17 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

Archaeologists have discovered remains of unique murals from Zahāk castle dated back to Arsacid dynasty.

"The discovered murals are unique and cannot be compared with any other murals from this period, any where in Iran proper or the Greater Iran", said Javad Qandchi, the director of Sixth season of archaeological excavations at the Zahak site.

"The recovered murals have geometrical designs with various colours such as green, blue, red and yellow, placed within white coloured rectangular frames" Qandi stated.

He added, "The research has shown that 80cm of the bottom of the walls have decorated with murals and upper parts in stucco. Mural decoration even can be found in the corridors (5m x 2m in diameters). "The rooms are 10 meters x 5 meters in diameter, built out of mud-brick (Xešt)".

Located in the Hashtrud region of East Azarbaijan Province, Zahak Castle is considered to be one of the few extremely important Parthian sites, which has been excavated several times by experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) in recent years. (click here to read full article)


Iranian Heritage is being Turned into Cement

London, 15 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

Shahr-e Rey Cement Factory devouring Dež-e Rashkān (Rashkān Fort), the spring-capital of Arsacid Dynasty and its imperial Palaces.

The plant is devouring the palatial structures at a rapid pace, and transforming Iranian heritage in to cement.

Unfortunately, most of these relics in Shahr-e Rey including Dež-e Rashkān have been wrecked and ruined as a result of construction and development projects, out of ignorance as well as an excessive and complicated administrative system in Iran. The plant has already gulped down several historic works including an embossed design of Fath'ali-Shah dating back to the Qajar period.

Rashkān fort is located at the summit of mount Sar-Sareh (or Sor-Soreh), and encircles 7,000-years-old Cheshmeh ‘Ali site, and ancient Gabri Castle.

The fort consists of three outer-defence walls with ramparts, palace structures, bath and various underground secret passages, underneath the palaces. During the excavations by cement factory, they have discovered various Parthian and Sasanian stucco-works and weaponries. (click here to read full article)


Iran's Anahita Temple hosted 12,000 visitors

London, 13 Oct 2005 (IranMania)

About 12,000 Iranian and foreign tourists visited the Anahita Temple, the ruins of which are located in the city of Kangavar in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, during the last six months.

"One thousand and two hundred sixty seven of the visitors were foreigners mostly from European countries," the Kangavar Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office told the Persian service of the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The number of visitors to Kangavar's historical sites and monuments this year has increased 65% compared to the last year, Saeid Dustani added.

Kangavar is a small town lying halfway between Hamedan and Kermanshah. In about 200 BC, during the Seleucid Greek occupation of Kangavar, a major sanctuary was built to the mother goddess Anahita -- who was worshipped in ancient Persia along with Ahura Mazda and Mithras. This vast temple was built of enormous blocks of dressed stone with an imposing entrance of opposed staircases which may have been inspired by the Apadana at Persepolis.

The Anahita Temple is very impressive from an architectural perspective.

Anahita (or Nahid in modern Persian), whose name means "unstained" or "immaculate", was an ancient Persian deity who seems to have been worshipped by the Medes and Persians before they adopted Zoroastrianism.

One of the early references to such a temple is by the Greek geographer Isidore of Charax who reports that in Parthian territory, Ecbatana, the greatest metropolis of Media, retained a temple of Anahita where sacrifices were regularly offered. At Concobar (Kangavar) in lower Media, a temple of Artemis built about 200 BC, was standing when Isidore of Charax wrote, and some vestiges of this Greek-style edifice survive today.

Among the very few carvings of Anahita, one can refer to a rock carving at Naqsh-e Rustam where the chief minister of Sassanid king Yazdegerd's last years Mihr-Naresh is shown receiving investiture from the hands of Anahita, who wears a serrated crown and a sleeveless cloak.

The temple was discovered in 1969 when workers were removing the rubble of a building demolished in a construction project at the site. (click here to read full article.)


Parthian Khorhe's Sixth Season of Archaeological Excavation is Completed

London, 11 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

Khorhe SiteThe outcome of the sixth season of archaeological research in the Khorhe resulted in an indication of the boundary of the Parthian structural complex and preparing its plan.

"In this season we have managed to excavate the external and internal parts of the manor house. Also we have found a part of outer wall, which was located in the adjacent tappeh. The courtyard and the rest of the structure will be excavated in future", Dr Mehdi Rahbar, head of excavation announced in a press conference yesterday.

"The outer wall made of travertine stones, with a length 27 to 28 meters from the main gate, which enclose the southwest of the tappeh. Tappeh itself is located in 4000 meters above the plain level, which is expected to be excavated in the near future", Rahbar stated.

"The manor house was erected at the peak of the tappeh's slope, with a views over the plain. It was constructed around 1st century CE, and it was in use until the fall of Parthian dynasty. The structure is of a historical importance which provides us with a valuable information" Rahabr asserted. (click here to read full article)


Scholars call on president to save ancient academic city of Jondishapur

Tehran, 5 Oct 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

The Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department (KCHTD) and the Abadan Society of Cultural Heritage Lovers have asked President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to save the ancient academic city of Jondishapur, which is facing a rise in illegal excavations, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Wednesday.

"The rise of illegal excavations is so extensive that if it is not stopped, nothing will remain of the site in a year. The depth of the holes reaches to about two meters in some places," KCHTD official Saeid Mohammadpur said.

"In a collaborative effort with the Abadan Society of Cultural Heritage Lovers, we asked President Ahmadinejad in a letter entitled 'All Iran Is My Homeland' to save the ancient site of Jondishapur," he added.

The letter reads in a part, "Jondishapur's importance is not limited to its history, it is also important for its status. Every four year in the Olympic Games marathon when Greece gloats about the Persians' defeat against the Athenians, why we should not save (Jondishapur), the symbol of the victory of Persia over Rome? Was the city not built by 70,000 Greek prisoners after the Rome's defeat against Persia?"

Located near Dezful, Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran, Jondishapur or Gondeshapur was a city founded by Sassanid emperor Shapur I (241-272 CE) before the advent of Islam. It was to settle Greek prisoners, hence the name 'Wandew Shapur' or 'acquired by Shapur'. The city was captured by Muslims during the caliphate of Umar, by Abu Musa al-Ashari. At this time it already had a well established hospital and medical school as well as an institution for philosophical studies in ancient times. Mani, the founder of Manicheanism, was imprisoned and executed in Jondishapur.

The name Jondishapur may also come from the Middle Persian language expression Gund-dez-i Shapur (the military fortress of Shapur). It has been argued that Jondishapur might have had a Parthian antecedent. But many scholars believe Shapur I, son of King Ardashir I, founded the city after defeating the Roman army led by Valerian. Shapur II made Jundishapur his capital.

Jundishapur gained its claim to fame during the rule of Khosrow Anushiravan. It is written that the king had a keen interest in the sciences and thus gathered a large group of scholars in his city. It was by his decree that the famous physician Borzuyeh was sent off to India to gather the best minds and sources of knowledge of the day.

Borzuyeh is famous for having translated the ancient text Panchatantra from Sanskrit into Persian, naming it "Kelileh and Demneh". Thus, Jundishapur University became an important center of science, philosophy, and medicine of the ancient world.

Jondishapur had 30 ancient tepes in 1980, but only 14 of them remain. The other mounds have been flattened by farmers for agricultural operations.

Farming has caused extensive damage to the main part of the 300-hectare city, which lies beneath the fields of crops. Dam and road construction projects have also harmed the site over the past few years.

Masud Azarnush, the director of the Archaeological Research Center of Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization had previously said that a number of experts from the center and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago planned to excavate Jondishapur next year, in order to save the site from being damaged by farming, but it is not clear whether anything will remain for next year's excavation! (click here to read full story)


Bolaghi-Gorge the Biggest Archaeological Salvage Operation in Iran

London, 4 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

Bolaghi Gorge is to be immersed under water once the Sivand Dam is inundated, however, its salvation project, the biggest one in the history of Iran's archaeological activities, has engaged the presence of several archaeological teams from 8 countries and spending of hundreds of thousands dollars.

Day-in-day-out excavations in every inch of the site all through the year and the domestic and international efforts in King Road have made the project a global one, which represents the crucial importance of the site and its Achaemenid artifacts.

The activities in the site which will soon submerge due to inundation of Sivand Dam nearby has revealed more than 130 ancient remains so far.

The event can be considered a tragicomedy which originates in the unfortunate fate of the site, but is now providing a suitable opportunity for archaeological experts from all over the world to gather around for salvation of ancient sites and artifacts in the site.

In early 2003, 10 years after the construction of Sivand Dam started on the location of the ancient King Road, a team of experts from the Parse-Pasargadae Research Center was sent to study the site. They found out that the Bolaghi Gorge was not only the bed of the King Road but also the land in which numerous monuments and artifacts were buried.

"Initially, Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) was not aware of these artifacts existence and thought that the only important aspect of the region was the existence of King Road there, but further studies revealed astonishing news," said Babak Kial, director of Pasargadae historical complex.

Since the team did not include archaeologists, a local archaeologist, Farhad Zareyi Kordchuli, was asked to survey and study the will-be-watered region of Bolaghi Gorge. His excavations showed that the Bolaghi Gorge is far more invaluable than it was thought to be and in addition to the King Road and the ancient roosts (Khereft Khaneh), there are lots of more hidden treasures beneath the region's soil.

It turned out that the Sivand Dam inundation will drown all, not only the King Road but also the probable Achaemenid artifacts in the site. The altitude of the dam from the sea level is 1819 meters and the depth of the lake behind it varies in different places.

"It was after the registration of the Pasargadae site on the UNESCO World Heritage List [in 2004] that the Sivand Dam and Bolaghi Gorge's historical remains attracted worldwide attentions," said Kial.

In the same year, the officials of Parse-Pasargadae Research Center asked international archaeologists, through a public recall, to engage in the site salvation project. "Regarding the emergency situation and the importance of the site," said director of the Center, Mohammad Hasan Talebian, "ICHTO asked international experts for participation in both phases of the salvation project; salvation of the historical remains before the watering of the dam and proposing strategies for preventing the influence of the dam on the Pasargadae Monument in the long run."

Several experts from Germany, Italy, France, England, Australia, Poland, and Japan announced their readiness to engage in the project.

Mounir Buchenaki, Assistant Director General for Culture section in UNESCO, making a speech for the revelation of Pasargadae world registration plaque, ensured the safety of Cyrus' tomb from Sivand Dam threats and said, "you must try to assert the cultural importance of the site to the government officials. I would also try on my behalf to inform UNESCO's managers."

The formation of an international strategic committee was the next step took by Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization. The supervision of UNESCO over the committee attracted even more experts and archaeologists to the region.

The joint Iranian-Italian archaeologists' team was the first one that began its activity in the early 2005. Their first achievement was the discovery of an Achaemenid village near the King Road.

"With further explorations," indicated Alireza Asgari, head of the Iranian expert of the joint Italian-Iranian team, "we came to the conclusion that the site can be as old as post-Achaemenid era, but the excavation of more than 5000 tiles led us to the discovery of an Achaemenid village."

The results attracted 3 more archaeologists' team from Germany, Poland, and France which began their work in joint teams with Iranian experts.

The Polish-Iranian joint team excavated a wall which surrounded a part of Bolaghi Gorge and could probably have been a defense wall for the village. Also, a ceramic furnace belonging to 7500 years ago and a huge vessel, more than a meter high and weighing 120 kgs, were among the important discoveries there. Further explorations of the team near the King Road led to discovery of a village and its graveyard which belongs to the late Sassanid era and the early Islamic period. The Polish archaeologists' team moreover succeeded to find a structure used for producing alcoholic drinks.

The French-Iranian joint team, also, began its studies on the revetment along the King Road. During these explorations, the team found the skeleton of an adult man, on which studies are still going on. According to Atayi, head of the Iranian experts of the joint French-Iranian team, anthropological studies on this finding can inform us about the physical characteristics of the ancient inhabitants of the area. The team has succeeded so far in finding more than 40 to 60 tombs.

Meanwhile, Babak Kial asserted, "metal forges, an ancient cave, BC residential places and 2 Parthian graveyards are among the most important discoveries of the site." The German-Iranian joint team moreover found a 7000-year site and an ancient signet which can be traced back to 5500 years ago.

Discovering 2 Paleolithic caves and stone instruments are results of the Japanese-Iranian joint team which had begun its activity in June, 2005.

It was then that even Guardian quoted the UNESCO request of archaeologists all over the world for participation in the Bolaghi Gorge salvation project.

The introduction of the issue in an international level urged Iran's Ministry of Energy to allocate a 100,000-dollar budget for the salvation project, though ICHTO's officials deny the arrival of such financial helps up to now. So far, more than 300,000 dollars have been spent by ICHTO.

Responding to a question considering rumors breaking out claiming that the Cyrus' tomb would sink after the watering of Sivand Dam, Mohammad Beheshti, director of ICHTO research center, asserted, "Some people want to make cultural heritage issues political. The rumors are absolutely untrue."

"Pasargadae Monument is located 7 kms from the Sivand Dam" he added," and the distance from the Persepolis is 10 times more than that. The only possible threat is the humidity effects to the site in the long term that will be limited by keeping the water behind the dam on a lower level"

Talebian, however, has announced that ICHTO will prevent the inundation of the dam if any unique remains are discovered on the site. So far, more than 130 historical remains have been excavated.

An international conference will be held by Parse-Pasargadae Research Center by completion of the emergency salvation project.

The Center has plans to begin 48 more excavations in the site. Some evidence of the site is destroyed by 24 illegal excavations. Up to now, 12 areas have undergone excavations and 4 others are under studies.

Parviz Fattah, Iran's Minister of Energy, said, "A joint committee of ICHTO and Ministry of Energy has been formed and not only Sivand Dam project but also every single future dam construction one will be carried out under its supervision. Sivand Dam water level will also be determined by ICHTO experts." (click here to read full story)


A Lesson from Roman History : An Earlier Empire's War on Iraq

CounterPunch Newsletter - Petrolia, CA, USA,  4 Oct 2005

Commentary by Gary Leupp

 The Roman emperor Trajan reigned from 98 to 117 and brought the empire to its maximum extent. He is generally considered to be one of the "good emperors" who ruled from 96 to 180, and indeed his administration was marked by relative tolerance (towards Christians, for example) and efficiency. Among his mistakes, however, was an attack on the Parthian Empire beginning in 115 or 116. He personally led his troops into Mesopotamia (what we now call Iraq) capturing the capital of Ctesiphon on the Tigris near modern Baghdad. He reached the Persian Gulf and in Edward Gibbon's words, "enjoyed the honour of being the first, as he was the last, of the Roman generals, who ever navigated that remote sea." A man of boundless ambition, he dreamed of sailing from there to far-off India. (click here to read full article).


Archaeologists Discovered Pieces of Parthian Colored Mosaic in Zahhak Castle

London, 4 Oct 2005 (CAIS)

(Translated by Mandana Davar-Kia)

The head of deep researches in Zahhak Castle, Ghandgar announced during the sixth season of deep researching within the archeological Zahhak Castle of the Hashtroud of Iran, the pieces of colored mosaic was, in dimensions of 10 by 20 and 15 by 15 centimeters, discovered that belongs to the Ashkani Dynasty.

Ghandgar added likewise a number of pieces of plaster works belonging to ancient era including geometrical and plant-like designs as well as some muddy and brick-shaped walls with white color at two sides mixed with green, yellow, red and blue at some parts have been found out. (click here to read full article).


ICOMOS proposes adding Bistun to UNESCO natural heritage list

Tehran, 3 Oct 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

The beauty of the Bistun historical complex has inspired ICOMOS experts who recently visited the site to make a proposal to UNESCO to add Bistun to its World Natural Heritage list, the director of the Bistun Project announced on Monday. Maliheh Mehdiabadi said that experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) had previously submitted the dossier of the site to UNESCO to register it on the World Heritage List.

"The experts of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) who traveled to Iran to study the dossier were also fascinated by it," she added.

However, she expressed concern about the plan to establish the Taq-e Bostan aerial cable cabin in Kermanshah Province, which may ruin Bistun's chance of being registered on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Located 30 k anshah, Bistun contains a number of unique ancient sites from the Median, Achaemenid, Parthian, Seleucid, and Sassanid eras.

The Bistun Inscription, probably the most important monument of the site, is a trilingual statement of Darius I in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian. The inscription, which is approximately 15 meters in height and 25 meters in width, is located on a relatively inaccessible cliff 100 meters above an ancient road connecting the capitals of Babylonia and Media, Babylon and Ecbatana. However, the site can easily be viewed from below. (click here to read full article)


Achaemenid era tepes discovered near Soltanieh Dome

Tehran, 3 Oct 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists recently discovered five Achaemenid tepes near the Soltanieh Dome, the Persian service of CHN announced on Monday.

Archaeologist Davud Abyan said the recent discovery proved that the site was older than previously estimated.

"Shards from the Achaemenid era had been found at the site before, and the recent finding revealed the first signs of the Achaemenid dynasty," he said.

The site also contains ruins from the Sassanid and Parthian eras, and the most recent discovery of the five tepes further confirmed that it was a significant site in the pre-Islamic era, he added.

Since the region is very fertile, the surrounding land has been cultivated by farmers, leading to the destruction of ancient ruins, and the five tepes are the only ones remaining, he stated, adding that the studies would be completed in late October and that emergency excavations would resume afterwards.

The names of the tepes were not announced due to the threat of smuggling.

Situated in Zanjan Province, the Soltanieh Dome, the mausoleum of Oljaitu, was constructed from 1302 to 1312 in the city of Soltanieh, the capital of the Ilkhanids, Mongol descendents of Genghis Khan who controlled large parts of Iran from 1256 to 1349.

Soltanieh was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List on July 15, 2005 during the 29th Session of the World Heritage Committee, which was held in Durban, South Africa. (click here to read full article)


Ancient outpost marks time

Tampa, Florida, St. Petersburg Times , 2 Oct 2005 (Associated Press)

HATRA, Iraq - Over 2,000 years ago this thriving Mesopotamian oasis city welcomed caravans of camels carrying travelers between East and West, twice held back Roman invaders, and was famous for its tolerance of different religions.

Now Hatra sits in ruins in a vast desert. Parts of its giant temples, columns and arches are still standing under the incessant sun but its city center is probably visited by more rabbits than people. Around it stands a nation still struggling to heal ancient grievances between feuding religious and ethnic groups, hoping to revisit high points in its history where the roots of civilization once sprouted.

The United Nations has declared it a world heritage site, but few people these days risk journeying to the ruins, 200 miles north of Baghdad.

Most visitors are guests of the U.S. military, and a handful of Iraqi guards protect the site. Most of the wire fence surrounding it has collapsed, but a girl in a bright dress is still on hand to dutifully raise a gate for a visiting convoy of Humvees.

Inside the circular city stand several largely intact temples to ancient gods, including a stone shrine over two stories high, dedicated to Shamash, the sun god. Although many relics and statues were rushed away to museums in Baghdad and Mosul during the 2003 invasion, a statue of a robed woman, possibly a king's wife, still stares down at visitors.

Inscriptions in Aramaic, the language once spoken by Christ, are still visible on some buildings.

After the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, looters shot and damaged decorated features on Hatra's walls, McGuire Gibson, an archaeology professor at the University of Chicago, said in an e-mail.

"The site is wonderful to walk around in, especially late in the evening and early in the morning," he said. "It is amazing that such a large city could exist where it does, dependent on cisterns and groundwater.

Gibson was on a U.N. team that investigated stolen or damaged Iraqi antiquities after the war.

"Probably the worst damage was caused by the exploding of munitions by U.S. forces," he said.

Gibson said the military eventually diminished the blasts, which were threatening to destabilize buildings in Hatra, but continued detonating explosives in the area.

Despite the turmoil, glimpses of the city's mixed East-West architecture of Roman, Hellenistic and Parthian styles testify to the diverse tradesmen and travelers who once passed through.

"The significance of Hatra as a bridge between East and West is plain for all to see," Roberta Ricciardi Venco, a professor at Turin University in Italy who has conducted surveys and excavations in the city, said in an e-mail.

The city's two defensive walls remain visible, including the outer one of clay that is over 3 miles long. More than 150 closely spaced towers helped Hatra withstand Roman attack in the second century A.D., according to a guide provided by the U.S. military, but the city eventually fell to the Sassanid empire of what is now Iran.

Hatra's novelty is its largely unexcavated condition. Dozens of unfinished digs lie outside the inner wall of the city, showing sand-covered shapes that leave visitors wondering about what lies beneath.

The site is also recognized by film buffs as the opening scene of the classic movie The Exorcist , in which an aging priest finds a relic that signals he will soon face an evil that turns out to be a demonically possessed girl.

Iraq's recent tortured history is also on display. In the 1990s Saddam Hussein started to reconstruct parts of the site - but ordered that bricks stamped with his name be used.

A handful of bullet casings lined some temple floors and U.S. Black Hawk helicopters swooped above. Though U.S.-led forces have brought relative calm to this rural area, guards warned of insurgents in the distance.

U.S. soldiers said grants were allocated after the invasion to lure tourists to the site, but a nearby hotel now serves as an Iraqi army base. Archaeologists say they don't expect to be back soon.

"You've got to be kidding. I know of no archaeologist who would think of visiting the site right now," said Gibson. (click here to read full article)


Cultural catastrophe: ancient tepes plowed in Susa

Tehran, 2 Oct 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Farmers almost entirely destroyed two ancient tepes in Susa, Khuzestan Province while they were plowing the site for cultivation, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Sunday.

"The site had initially been excavated by a team of Iranian archaeologists and some experts from the University of Chicago in 2002 and 2003. They believed the site dated back to 5000 BC," Abdorreza Peymani, an official of the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department (KCHTD) said.

"At the present time, agricultural operations have been halted at the site and the KCHTD has filed a lawsuit against the private owner of the land," he added.

Susa (Biblical Shushan, modern Shush) was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian, and Parthian empires of Iran, located about 150 miles east of the Tigris River in Khuzestan Province of Iran. As well as being an archaeological site, Susa is also mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the places where the Prophet Daniel (AS) lived. His tomb is located in the heart of the city.

Susa is one of the oldest known settlements of the region, probably founded about 4000 BC, though the first traces of an inhabited village date back to 7000 BC. Evidence of a painted pottery civilization dates back to 5000 BC. In historic times, it was the capital of the Elamite Empire. Its name originates from their language; it was written variously (Shushan, Shushun etc.) and was apparently pronounced Susan. Shushan was invaded by both Babylonian empires as well as the Assyrian Empire in violent campaigns. After the Babylonian conquest, the name was misunderstood to be connected with the Semitic word Shushan, "lily".

Since it has the most ancient sites and monuments in the country, Khuzestan is considered the heart of Iran's archaeology. However, its archaeological sites have been excavated by smugglers 83 times over the past 15 months, making Khuzestan Iran's most illegally excavated province. (click here to read full article)


Excavation work resumes at Ecbatana

Tehran, 1 Oct 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of Iranian archaeologists are excavating a stratum of the ancient site of Ecbatana which they believe dates back to the Sassanid or Parthian era.

Covering an area of 35 hectares, the site of Ecbatana is located in the northern section of the western Iranian city of Hamedan. Ruins from various historical periods have been unearthed during previous excavations at the site which indicate that the ancient inhabitants practiced progressive urban planning.

"The new phase of the excavations aims to shed light on the lifestyles during various periods. Thus we don't expect to unearth important artifacts," archaeological team director Masud Azarnush told the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency on Saturday.

Ecbatana was the capital of ancient Media and later the summer residence of Achaemenid and Parthian dynasty kings. It is beautifully situated at the foot of Mount Alvand, northeast of Bisotun. In 549 B.C., it was captured by Cyrus the Great. It had a royal treasury which was plundered in turn by Alexander, Seleucus, and Antiochus III.

Also called Hegmatana, the site has never been thoroughly excavated since it is mostly covered by the modern city of Hamedan.

The Hamedan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department announced last February that it was planning to build the largest Iranian museum at the site of Ecbatana. Ten billion rials was allocated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei to purchase the site of the proposed museum.

Parts of the site are privately owned. A number of ruins and artifacts have been unearthed during the private owners' construction projects to build houses and shops.

The Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) has recently announced that it will allocate funds to purchase the land. (click here to read full article)


Smugglers causing irrevocable damage to Zahak Castle

Tehran, 28 Sep 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists recently discovered the Parthian cemetery of the Zahak Castle, an expert of the team announced on Wednesday.

"We conducted several excavations of separate parts of the castle last year," Javad Qandgar said.

"However, we noticed that some parts of the site had been destroyed by smugglers, who found the cemetery earlier," he added.

Located in the Hashtrud region of East Azarbaijan Province, Zahak Castle is considered one of the few extremely important Parthian sites and has been excavated several times by experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) in recent years.

Qandgar stated that the archaeologists would not excavate the entire site due to the lack of proper security.

"If the cemetery is left unguarded after the entire excavation is finished, the site will be plundered again by smugglers," he warned.

There are plans to establish a permanent research facility and guard house in order to protect the cemetery after the excavations are completed, he explained.

Parthian cemeteries are important sites since they are not discovered frequently.

Alexander occupied Media in the summer of 330 BC. In 328 he appointed Atropates, a former general of Darius, as satrap. In the partition of his empire, southern Media was given to the Macedonian Peithon; but the north, which lay far off and was of little importance for the generals who fought for the inheritance of Alexander, was left to Atropates.

While southern Media with Ecbatana passed to the rule of Antigonus, and afterwards to Seleucus I, Atropates maintained himself in his satrapy and succeeded in founding an independent kingdom. Thus the partition of the country, which the Persians had introduced, became lasting; the north was named Atropatene, after the founder of the dynasty, a name which is preserved in modern Azarbaijan.

The capital was Gazaca in the central plain, and the strong castle of the city was Phraaspa, which was believed to be identical with the great ruin Takht-e Suleiman, with the remains of Sassanid fire temples and of a later palace.

A number of archaeologists also previously believed that Phraaspa was located in the region around Bakhtak Castle in southern East Azerbaijan Province.

During the most recent studies, archaeologists also discovered some mud brick ruins decorated with colored plaster at the Zahak Castle. (click here to read full article).


Iran's 72-hectare Acropolis deserted

London, 17 Sep 2005 (IranMania)

The history of Tepe Mil coincides with mythological Rey city which is a remnant of the Assyrian rule.

The historical site of Tepe mil, 72-hectare vast, and several satellite hills hiding lots of secrets from the Parthian era to the time of flourishing of Islamic Art, are in danger of destruction due to lack of facilities and preservation, CHN reported.

A building has been discovered in the excavations in Tepe Mil, which is one of the most important hills of the historical site located 11 kilometers South East of Tehran. Archaeologists have not yet reached an agreement on the identity of the hill, whether it was a Fire Temple or a Royal Castle.

The destruction of the monument, which the experts believe, based on historical evidence there, can be compared to Acropolis in Greece, has become the main concern of archeologists.

Six years ago the site was covered with a temporary ceiling to help preserve it against rain and wind, which has been broken during the years and nobody is taking any action to prevent the destruction of this historical site.

The site was covered with this temporary ceiling after the last excavations in the site which go back to 1999. The project for preservation and excavation of the site was supposed to be completed by support from the German government, but no contracts have been signed yet between the two countries in this respect.

According to Firoozeh Sheibani, head of the research team of Tepe Mil, no budget has been considered for preservation of the site yet. Because of rain and the changes of weather, the collapse of the iron pillars of the temporary roof has inflicted serious damages on the site.

Tepe Mil is not only important for its cultural, historical, and archeological characteristics, but according to what experts and archeologists believe, it is an area in which evidence of transition from the Parthian to the Sassanid era, and pre- Islamic to Islamic periods can be found. The geological conditions of the area from the forth geological period have made this area an appropriate settlement choice. Therefore, archaeologists try to study it in order to find out some historical secrets and answer questions about the process of life from the Paleolithic period to the present time.

In addition to the damages of the main building, the last plaster works of Sassanid era, which in are as important as those of Sassanid Castles in Chal Tarkhan, Nezam Abad, and the mighty Castle of Kish in Mesopotamia, are in danger under the broken preservative ceiling of the site. While according to Sheibani, these plaster works belonging to the Sassanid era, can be an important evidence for the historical art researchers.

Sheibani says, "Although the main part of the plaster has been plundered during the first excavation which had been done by Pezar, a French archaeologist working in Iran during the last years of Qajar era, but there are still invaluable evidence which can be a guide to discover a lot of secrets."

The site was dug for the first time in 1909 was by the French archaeologist, Pezar. Due to the incorrect and careless method of excavations serious damages were caused to the historical layers of Tepe Mil. Then the site was neglected for 43 years until 1950s when Ali Hakemi, an archeologist, started some excavations there. After that, the historical site of Tepe Mil was abandoned again until 1999 when a team headed by Firouzeh Sheibani started some new excavations there, which led to the discovery of some unknown architectural structure of the site, transforming it into a unique heritage. The space consisted of a central opened yard with porticos around.

Most probably this historical site has been called Tepe Mil (hill of pillars) because of the two high pillars remaining from the old building.

"Since the historical evidence gained from the recent excavations indicate that the hill is comparable to Acropolis hill in Greece, we can attract a lot of tourists there," says Mehdi Memarzadeh, head of the Restoration Center of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Tehran province.

According to Memarzadeh, during the first excavations in 1909, 7 meters of the building and the east pillars on which some molding animals and humans were designed, and some parts of the surrounding cells were unearthed. Considering the evidences, it is believed that the building was a worship place for Zoroastrians, but until ashes are not found, the belief can not be confirmed.

The diameter of the pillars is 2 meters and two porticoes are found around it. A panel which is decorated with a broken cross, belonging to the Sassanid era, has also been found near the building.

Despite all the significance experts attribute to the site, the Acropolis of Iran is not receiving the proper treatment it deserves. (click here to read full article.)


Hotel construction could blight Zoroastrian cemetery in southern Iran

Tehran, 12 Sep 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A Zoroastrian cemetery at the Shoghab ancient site in Iran's southern city of Bushehr is being threatened by construction of a five star hotel nearby, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Monday.

"In a letter sent to the Bushehr Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, we have warned the department that every act of interference or ownership is illegal at this site, and the establishment of tourism facilities must be implemented by the expert committee of the Archaeology Department of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization," CHTO Archaeology Department Director Jalil Golshan told CHN.

The hotel is being constructed by the private sector.

Registered on the National Heritage List in 1998, the Shoghab site is located three kilometers south of Bushehr and includes ruins from the Parthian and Sassanid eras. The site has the only Zoroastrian cemetery in the country, which sheds light on the style of Zoroastrian burials during ancient times.

The stone graves of the cemetery contain no remains of bodies because burials were not common among Zoroastrians. But a number of earthenware ossuaries have been discovered at the site. The ancient Zoroastrians believed that the earth was pure, so they did not bury the dead in order to prevent the pollution of the earth. Instead, they placed the dead in stone graves or towers of silence. After the bodies decomposed over time, the remains were kept in earthenware ossuaries. (click here to read full article).


Stone mines used to construct Anahita Temple discovered

Tehran, 20 Aug 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Archaeologists recently discovered four mines that provided the stones used in the construction of the Anahita Temple, the ruins of which are located in the city of Kangavar in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah.

"The mines are located in the National Garden in downtown Kangavar, Qureh-Jin and behind the Shahrak-e Vali-e Asr in the south (of the town), and Allah-Daneh district in the north," the director of the Kangavar Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office told the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency on Friday.

"There is evidence that the mine had been utilized in ancient times. The vertical and horizontal incisions indicate that the stones had been cut for construction purposes. Even some unfinished columns and stone cubes were discovered in some of the mines," Saeid Dustani added.

Archaeologists had previously discovered the Chehel Maran, Soltanababad, and Helal-e Ahmar stone mines in the region, which they believe also provided stones for the construction of the temple.

"Last year, a mason began using the stones of the mines for restoration of the temple, but the project was halted. There are many stones at the site of the temple and we do not need to exploit the mines for the renovation of the temple. Our office plans to register the mines on Iran's National Heritage List in order to safeguard them. At the present time, the mine located in the National Garden is threatened by construction projects. It is difficult to demarcate the mine due to the projects," he explained.

Kangavar is a small town lying halfway between Hamedan and Kermanshah. In about 200 BC, during the Seleucid Greek occupation of Kangavar, a major sanctuary was built to the mother goddess Anahita -- who was worshipped in ancient Persia along with Ahura Mazda and Mithras. This vast temple was built of enormous blocks of dressed stone with an imposing entrance of opposed staircases which may have been inspired by the Apadana at Persepolis.

The Anahita Temple is very impressive from an architectural perspective.

Anahita (or Nahid in modern Persian), whose name means "unstained" or "immaculate", was an ancient Persian deity who seems to have been worshipped by the Medes and Persians before they adopted Zoroastrianism.

One of the early references to such a temple is by the Greek geographer Isidore of Charax who reports that in Parthian territory, Ecbatana, the greatest metropolis of Media, retained a temple of Anahita where sacrifices were regularly offered. At Concobar (Kangavar) in lower Media, a temple of Artemis built about 200 BC, was standing when Isidore of Charax wrote, and some vestiges of this Greek-style edifice survive today.

Among the very few carvings of Anahita, one can refer to a rock carving at Naqsh-e Rustam where the chief minister of Sassanid king Yazdegerd's last years Mihr-Naresh is shown receiving investiture from the hands of Anahita, who wears a serrated crown and a sleeveless cloak.

The temple was discovered in 1969 when workers were removing the rubble of a building demolished in a construction project at the site. (click here to read full article)


33 Ancient Coins Seized from Smugglers

15 Aug 2005 (Iran Daily, IRNA)

Custom officials in Tehran have come across 33 ancient coins belonging to the Parthian, Sasanid and post Sasanid eras while examining nine parcels destined for overseas.

A custom official told Fars news agency that the owners of parcels had used fake sender address on the back of the packets.

However, experienced custom officers managed to identify the suspicious parcels and prevent their dispatch abroad. Meanwhile, cultural heritage experts were invited to give their opinion on the artifacts.

Experts said that the export of ancient relics including coins are banned by the Iranian law.


Italian Expert Helps in Hegmateneh Stratigraphy

Tehran, 10 Aug 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

The historical site of Hegmataneh, in Hamadan province, will be undergoing a new season of archaeological studies by end of August.

The previous season of work led to the discovery of several strata dating to the Parthian dynasty to Islamic era. The new season, which will be carried out by cooperation of Iranian experts and an Italian archaeologist, also aims at stratigraphy studies of Hegmataneh Tepe.

As head of the excavation team, Masud Azarnush, explained to CHN, during the last 15 years extensive archaeological work has been carried out on the site, however, the information regarding eras during which Hegmataneh has been residential is not yet comprehensive.

Azarnush is hopeful that the cooperation of the Italian archaeologist, Bissione, who is an expert in stratigraphy and archaeology of the first half of the first millennium BC, would be of great benefit to the team's achievements, specially since the upcoming work is to be focused on studying the strata remaining from Median empire, the first Iranian dynasty.


Key Parthian Dynasty Site Undergoes Restoration

7 Aug 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

The architectural structures of Zahhak Fortress site, one of the key archaeological sites of Iran from the Parthian dynasty times, is to undergo urgent restoration and preservation activities.

Zahhak Fortress, located in the north western province of East Azarbaijan, has been vastly excavated by the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) in the recent years. It consists of several remains from the Parthian era including halls and architectural spaces with eye-catching plaster decorations, also some remains from the Sasanid era.

According to head of Zahhak project, Javad Ghandgar, to prevent the 15x15 square meter hall discovered recently from destruction due to precipitation and wind, previously set-up counter ceilings will be set up and new ones constructed. The stone walls of the complex are moreover to be restored and fortified.

Ghandgar explains that the restoration works are part of the preliminary stage to prepare for the new season of excavations there.

Since the number of Parthian sites throughout Iran is limited, the site of Zahhak Fortress is of great importance for archaeological studies of the era.


Stronach to guide Iranian archaeologists' search for Parthian city

Tehran, 6 Aug 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

British archaeologist David Stronach is to come to Iran in early September in order to give a report on the studies he has carried out in search of Hecatompylos in the area of modern-day Shahr-e Qumis near Damghan, Iran over the years, the director of the Damghan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office said on Friday. "Iran's Archaeological Research Center has invited Stronach to travel to Iran to give the report and guide Iranian archaeologists in searching for the Parthian city," Masumeh Davudian added.

"Due to old age, he will not be able to directly take part in the operation, but his guidance will be very effective for upcoming excavations," she noted.

Stronach is recognized as one of the pioneers of archaeology in Iran. Educated at Cambridge, Stronach was director of the British Institute of Persian Studies for twenty years beginning in 1961, during which time he also conducted excavations throughout the Middle East.

He has directed and co-directed a number of excavations in Iraq (at Ras al 'Amiya and Nineveh), in Iran (at Pasargadae, Nushijan Tepe, and Shahr-i Qumis), and in the Caucasus (at Horom and Velikent).

Shahr-i Qumis was known to the Greeks as Hecatompylos or "the Hundred Gated City."

Hecatompylos is one of the Parthian royal capitals in western Khorasan. It might have already fallen into decline when the Seleucids revived it as a military outpost about 300 BC. By about 200 BC it was the Arsacid (Parthian) capital and is mentioned as such by Pliny, Strabo, and Ptolemy.

Hecatompylos lay on the Silk Road trade route between the Near East and China. Although it is thought to have been situated somewhere between the present-day Iranian cities of Damghan and Shahrud, its exact location has not been established.

Modern Damghan is a city in the Parthian district of Traxiane, later known as Khorasan. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was the original capital of the ancient province of Qumis. (click here to read full article).


Archaeologists restoring ruins near Zahak Castle

Tehran, 6 Aug 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists has begun restoration work on the ruins recently discovered near the Parthian site of Zahak Castle in Iran's northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, the director of the restoration project of the castle said on Saturday.

"We have discovered ruins of several structures including a 15 x 15 meter auditorium, which will be covered with gable to prevent damage caused by rainfall," Javad Qandgar added.

"In addition, we plan to restore the walls, particularly the ones that have been severely damaged," he said.

Considered one of the few extremely important Parthian sites, Zahak Castle has been excavated several times by experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) over the past few years.

During the last excavation carried out in April 2005, archaeologists discovered Phraaspa, an ancient castle of the Parthian province of Atropatene.

According to some historical documents, Phraaspa was located somewhere in Azarbaijan. They have also found more than 20 habitation sites and eight barbicans from the Parthian era at the site.

Alexander occupied Media in the summer of 330 BC. In 328 he appointed Atropates, a former general of Darius, as satrap. In the partition of his empire, southern Media was given to the Macedonian Peithon; but the north, which lay far off and was of little importance for the generals who fought for the inheritance of Alexander, was left to Atropates.

While southern Media with Ecbatana passed to the rule of Antigonus, and afterwards to Seleucus I, Atropates maintained himself in his satrapy and succeeded in founding an independent kingdom. Thus the partition of the country, which the Persians had introduced, became lasting; the north was named Atropatene, after the founder of the dynasty, a name which is preserved in modern Azarbaijan.

The capital was Gazaca in the central plain, and the strong castle of the city was Phraaspa, which was believed to be identical with the great ruin Takht-e Suleiman, with remains of Sassanid fire temples and of a later palace.

A number of archaeologists also previously believed that Phraaspa was located in the region around Bakhtak Castle in southern East Azerbaijan Province.

The CHTO archaeologists plan to begin a new phase of excavations at Zahak Castle in early September. (click here to read full article).


Zoroaster's Kaba, world's most unique ancient calendrical building: archaeologist

Tehran, 31 Jul 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

An Iranian archaeologist has rejected the theory describing the Achaemenid era monument Zoroaster's Kaba as an ancient government archive, saying that the monument is the world's most unique calendrical and astronomical building.

"At the end of Shahrivar (the sixth month of the Iranian calendar, August 23-September 22) we can determine exactly the day of the month by the light shed by the sun on Zoroaster's Kaba. It has been used for daily needs, determining the time of cultivating crops, and collecting taxes," Reza Moradi Ghiasabadi explained.

Zoroaster's Kaba is located beside the Achaemenid era Naqsh-e Rustam monument, just a few kilometers from Persepolis in Fars Province. The inner room of Zoroaster's Kaba is 2.5 x 2.5 meters in area.

"To realize the fact that the building had not been a center for storing governmental documents and books only requires that you enter the monument. You will grasp that such a small building could not be used as a center for documents of a great empire like the Achaemenid dynasty," Moradi explained.

"Some foreign astronomers recently visited and photographed the monument and they are currently studying it due to my theory," he said.

"Iranian cultural officials pay no heed to the new theories posed by Iranian researchers. For example, if it's said that the statue of Shapur I has been discovered at Bistun, they will go there to see the artifact, asking for no proof of its accuracy, but my or my colleagues' research, which has no visual evidence, is not considered," he complained.

There are various theories on the original purpose of Zoroaster's Kaba. Some experts believe that the monument was the home of a complete copy of the Avesta which had been written on 12,000 cows' skins. Some Orientalists also believe that Zoroaster's Kaba was a place where the Zoroastrians' sacred fire was kept burning eternally.

A number of other researchers say that the monument is the tomb of Smerdis, the son of Cyrus the Great, who was murdered by his brother Cambyses (king of Persia 530–522 BC).

Zoroaster's Kaba bears a Sassanid era inscription explaining the historical events during the reign of the Sassanid king Shapur I (241-272 CE).

The trilingual inscription, written in the Sassanid and Parthian dialects of Middle Persian and ancient Greek, describes the war between Persia and Rome in which Shapur I defeated the Roman emperor Valerian, who was captured in June 260 and died in captivity.

European scholars have named the inscription "Res Gelase Divi Saporis" (The Book of Deeds of the Emperor Shapur).


Roman legion founded Chinese city: Survivors of Crassus's routed army said to have built town

Florence, 25 July 2005 (ANSA)

Roman soldiers who disappeared after a famous defeat founded a city in eastern China, archaeologists say.

The phantom legion was part of the defeated forces of Marcus Licinius Crassus, according to the current edition of the Italian magazine Archeologia Viva.

The famously wealthy Crassus needed glory to rival the exploits of the two men with whom he ruled Rome as the First Triumvirate, Pompey the Great and Julius Caesar.

Crassus decided to bring down the Parthian Empire - a fatal choice.

His forces were routed in 53 BC outside the Mesopotamian city of Carre - today's Harran - and he was beheaded.

According to the Roman historian Pliny, the Romans who survived were taken to a prison camp in what is now northern Afghanistan.

When Rome and Parthia sued for peace in 20 BC - 33 years after Crassus's last battle - all trace of the prisoners had disappeared.

The survivors of Crassus's legion became a mystery, walking ghosts in Roman legends. A Chinese historian in the Han Empire, China's second dynasty, provided an answer to the riddle in the early 3rd century AD.

The historian, Bau Gau, wrote that a Chinese war leader defeated a group of soldiers drawn up in typical Roman formation.

Crassus's old troops must now have been in their fifties and sixties.

Bau Gau said the foreigners were moved to China to defend the strategically important eastern region of Gansu, near today's city of Yongchang.

This is where the survivors founded the city of Liquian, the only site in China where the mark of Ancient Rome can be seen. 'Liquian' is said to mean 'Roman'.

The city has been virtually unknown outside China although hundreds of people visit it each year, admiring traces of defensive wallworks and pieces of broken pottery.

The number of visitors is certain to rise. Crassus, celebrated as the richest Roman of them all in pre-Imperial days, was never satisfied with his wealth and had an undying lust for glory.

Eighteen years before his doomed expedition to Parthia he put down a slave revolt led by the Thracian slave Spartacus. In Stanley Kubrick's epic film he was played by Laurence Olivier (click here to read full article).


Lost Median medallion found after 30 years

Tehran, 1 Jul 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Median BuckleAfter having been misplaced for three decades, a brass medallion bearing the image of a Median nobleman was found in the Tehran University Archaeology Institute's storehouse for artifacts discovered at Qareh-Tappeh near Sagzabad, Qazvin Province.

Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization expert Mehrdad Malekzadeh said on Friday that the medallion is probably a belt buckle.

"The medallion is made of white brass and the engraved figure on the medallion is wearing an Iranian costume dating back to the Median era.

"The figure is wearing a Median era hat and wrinkled costume. He is also wearing a pair of leather riding boots and holding a mace in his hand," he added.

Malekzadeh believes that the design of the engravings on the medallion is a cross between the style of ancient Lorestan and the style of gold and silver medallions found in the ancient Oxus treasure.

"The medallion seems to have a simpler design compared to those of the Oxus, but enjoys better craftsmanship compared to the Lorestan brass works," he said

The mystery of why the nobleman is wearing a Median hat and a Parthian costume can only be explained through research and reexamination of the ancient texts, he noted.

Geographically, the plain of Qazvin is part of North Central Iran and is located on the southern slopes of the Alburz Mountains.

Archaeological studies of the region began in the 1970s with excavations of the three sites of Zagheh, Ghabrestan, and Sagzabad. However, no comprehensive research was carried out on the artifacts discovered at the sites, some of which date back to circa 3000 BC. (click here to read full article).


Excavations underway to locate ancient Greek temple in western Iran

Tehran, June 25 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of Iranian archaeologists recently began searching for the location of the ancient Greek Laodicea Temple in Nahavand, Hamedan Province, the director of the team announced on Thursday. "On June 15, the team began excavations, which will probably last until late July," Mehdi Rahbar added.

In 1943, archaeologists discovered an ancient inscription written in Greek in Nahavand, indicating the existence of a temple named Laodicea in the area, which dated back to the reign of Antiochus III the Great (223-187 BC), the Seleucid king who ruled Asia Minor.

He was the most distinguished of the Seleucids. Having made vassal states out of Parthia in present-day northeastern Iran and Bactria (an ancient country in Central Asia), he warred successfully against the Egyptian king Ptolemy V and in 198 BC obtained possession of all of Palestine and Lebanon.

He later became involved in a conflict with the Romans, who defeated him at Thermopylae in 191 BC and at Magnesia (now Manisa, Turkey) in 190 BC. As the price of peace, he was forced to surrender all his dominions west of the Taurus Mountains and to pay costly tribute. Antiochus, who early in his reign had restored the Seleucid Empire, finally forfeited its influence in the eastern Mediterranean by his failure to recognize the rising power of Rome. (Click here to read full article)


Rock music enhances suicidal sentiments, new study suggests

Moscow, 21 Jun 2005 (Pravda)

Rock music can destroy the brain through the impact of ultra and infra sounds which are inaudible t uman ear

People took note of the medicinal properties of music a long time ago. A music theater for medical purposes was built in the Kingdom of Parthia in the 3rd century B.C. Doctors at the theater used specially selected melodies for treating patients with depression, nervous disorders and heart problems. Enough evidence was gathered over the last century to prove that electromagnetic waves produced by the sounds of music could make vibrate every cell of the human body. Music can change the blood pressure and heart rate, it can also dramatically change the rhythm and character of breathing. (Click here to read full article)


American Archaeologist Authenticates Afghanistan's Recovered National Treasures

Washington Report, May/June 2005, pages 42-43

Special Report by Pat McDonnell Twair

Television Viewers around the world witnessed the looting of priceless antiquities from Iraq's national museum as U.S. troops passively observed the blatant theft of a nation's heritage.

It was presumed the same thing happened to Afghanistan's historical treasures when that country's national museum was reduced to a roofless, derelict building during the war against Soviet occupation and subsequent Taliban rule.

But archaeologists were puzzled by the fact that most of the precious objects from the Kabul museum failed to show up in Western auction houses. The museum had gained notoriety for its collection of more than 21,000 primarily gold objects of the Bactrian culture recovered in 1978 at Tilya Tepe (Mountain of Gold) by Russian archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi. As word of the horde of gold ornaments spread, Sarianidi rushed the treasure trove to the Afghan capital for safety. [More...]

(Click here to read full article)


Parthian and Sassanid Inscribed Vocabulary Collected in a Dictionary

Tehran, May 30 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency) – All the vocabulary of the Sassanid and Parthian inscriptions, seals, papyri, and pottery are collected and are to be published in a comprehensive dictionary by end of September.

InscriptionThe book is the most complete collection ever of the Pahlavi words found in rock inscriptions, seals, pottery writing, and papyri dating back to the Sassanid and Parthian era.

The book is the most complete collection ever of the Pahlavi words found in rock inscriptions, seals, pottery writing, and papyri dating back to the Sassanid and Parthian era.

According to Darius Akbarzadeh, director of the Hall of Inscriptions of the Iranian National Museum which is in charge of the project, the book covers all the words inscribed at the two era, not only those of the large and famous inscriptions, and both those found on rocks and mountains and the movable ones.

"Each entry of the dictionary includes the original form of the word, its phonetics, its frequency of use, the address of the including inscription(s), and finally the Persian translation," explains Akbarazadeh.

The dictionary is planned to come to the market by end of September 2005.

Previously, just a concise collection of Pahlavi words of unmovable inscriptions found on rocks and mountains were compiled by Sorbonne professor, director of the studies of ancient Iran religions, and president of the association for the development of Iranian studies, Philippe Gignoux.

Pahlavi was the formal language of the Parthian and Sassanid era.

The Parthian Empire was the dominating force on the Iranian plateau beginning in the late 3rd century BCE, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca 190 BCE and 224 CE. Parthia was the arch-enemy of the Roman Empire in the East and it limited Rome's expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia). The end of the empire came in 224 CE.

Of the Parthian times, no literary inscription is left because Aramid and Greek were the more popular languages of the time. Writings on clays and rocks are the only Pahlavi remnants of the era.

The Sassanid dynasty (also Sassanian) ruled Iran during the era of the second Persian Empire, from 224 until 651, when the last Sassanid King, Yazdegerd III, lost a 14-year struggle to drive out the Umayyad Caliphate, the first of the Islamic empires.

The inscriptions of Ardeshir in Naghsh-e Rostam of Shiraz, Fars, those of Shapur, and the one related to Zoroaster in the Zoroastrian Kaaba are the most important ones remaining from the Sassanid era. Pahlavi words of the Sassanid era are also found on bowls, glasses, mirror frames, etc.  (click here to read full article)


Choob Tarash Excavation Operations

Khorramabad, Lorestan province, 29 May 2005 (IRNA)

Choob Tarash excavations Archaeologists work in Choob Tarash village near the provincial capital Khorramabad, western Iran, to find clues from Arsacid dynasty (250 BC-AD 226). A bronze coffin belonging to the Parthian era has recently been discovered in the region.
(click here to read full story)
Photo by IRNA bureau in Khorramabad  
   

Bronze Coffin with Golden Blindfold Found in Western Iran

Tehran, 14 May 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

Bronze coffinA two thousand-year bronze coffin containing a skeleton with golden blindfold and muzzle was found by archaeologists in a farm near Khorram-abad, in western province of Lorestan.

"These golden blindfold and muzzle Indicates that they belonged to a person from high class" said Jalal Adeli, the head of excavation group.

The shape of this 180x87x55cm coffin is similar to a bathtub with four helves. The blindfold and muzzle which were found over the skeleton was made of narrow golden layer.

"Regarding the ceramics which were found around the coffin, we guess it can be traced back to Parthian era" said Adeli.

Archeologists hope to find some designs on the coffin after removing layers of deposit.

These excavations began when a farmer informed the Cultural Heritage Organization officials that some people wander around her farm with metal detector.

"After the arrival of excavation group and urgent speculation with help of police, we finally found the coffin and its contents on February 10th" Cyrus Ebrahimi, chief of Lorestan cultural heritage, told CHN.

"Because of the probability of illegal excavations and to prevent the damage to the site, we decided not to let the news break out until the arrival of professional archaeologists group" he added.

Hope to find other ancient artifacts; a professional excavation group is currently working on the site.

Earth pressure has broken the coffin into four parts, therefore all the found artifacts were sent to laboratory of Falak-ol-aflak castle for research and restoration.

"We would find out the gender, death cause, body measures and probable disease of the person whose skeleton is found," said Farzad Foroozanfar, the anthropologist in charge of the project.

The only bronze coffin found so far in the region, was related to Arjan treasure which belonged to Kiddin-Khutran, the Elamite king, and was excavated during the construction of Behbahan dam.

The bronze coffin will be exhibited in Cultural Heritage Week (18-25 May), after restoration. (click here to read full article)


Gharbal Biz of Yazd Dates Back to Achaemenid, not Parthian, Times

Tehran, 10 May 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

New round of studies in Gharbal Biz of Yazd shows that the historical site which was so far considered a Parthian legacy, dates back to the Achaemenid era.

The site which is located in the Mehriz area of the central province of Yazd is the first to undergo archaeological excavations in the province.

Previously a graveyard and a Mithraism temple, plus artifacts dating to the Parthian and Sassanid times, led the experts to identify the site as dating back to the Parthian era, but new discoveries of pottery, studies on the graveyard and structural plans of the site have made them change their view and consider the area as from the Achaemenid times.

According to head of the excavation team, Azarmidokht Esfandiari, comparison of the Gharbal Biz objects with other pottery and tools of the Achaemenid era discovered elsewhere, has made archaeologists date the history of the site back to the Achaemenid era.

The dating back of the site to some 2500 years ago is evidence of the province's long history, where most of the previous studies have been focused on Islamic and historical sites and monuments. (click here to read full article)


Inflation Rate in Parthian Times: Less than One Percent

Tehran, 9 May 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

Studies on three pieces of hide discovered in Uraman of Kurdistan in 1909 revealed them as documents of several sales of one piece of land during one century at the Parthian times with an inflation rate of less than one percent.

The hides were accidentally discovered by a shepherd working in Uraman area in a cave in 1909. They were translated and published by an Englishman in 1915, and right now are kept in the British Museum, London.

The first two documents are written in Greek and the third in Aramaic which has been the official handwriting of secretaries of the Achaemenid and Parthian times.

The documents are of the sale of a vineyard in 88 BC, in 21 or 22 BC, and in 11 AD. The land is sold for 30 silver Dirhams the first time and the next two following times, and 55 silver Derhams for the last time.

Head of the Archaeology Research Center of the ICHTO, Masoud Azarnoush, who have studied the inscriptions, sees the discovery of these documents as a unique event that is of great value for history, economy, and for Iranian archaeology.

If silver Dirhams are considered to have a stable value throughout the years, the prices reveal that the inflation rate during the Parthian times has been less than one percent.

According to Azarnoush, the documents date back to the time that Iran was gaining great victories over its neighbors especially the Romans. "We can say that at the time that Iran had a strong military and political situation, its economic conditions were somehow stable too," said Azarnoush.

An interesting point mentioned in the documents, as Azarnoush explains, is the guarantee by the buyer to cultivate the land. In case the land is left barren, the buyer must pay a large sum of fine, 200 Dirhams which is four times the price of the land, to the government. Meanwhile, the seller also guaranteed to help the buyer out in cultivating the land, so that if the buyer was sick or for some other reason unable to continue production, the seller who was accounted responsible for the matter.

The punishment considered by the Parthians for lack of economic productions, Azarnoush believes, is another reason for improvement of production and boosting economy at the time. (click here to read full article)

Italian digs unearth ancient Parthian court

Turin, 7 May 2005 (ANSA/IRNA)

Italian digs in Turkmenistan are unearthing an extensive archaeological complex that was once a flourishing artistic and political center for the ancient civilization of Parthia. The latest round of digs has revealed invaluable detail about a fortified complex, located 18km southwest of the country's modern capital Ashkhabad, near the border of Iran, according to the excavation director, Antonio Invernizzi of Turin University.

Archaeologists believe that Old Nisa, one of the Parthian Empire's earliest capitals, was founded in the 2nd century BC.

It was renamed Mithradatkirt, or fortress of Mithradates (171-138 BC) after the king who turned Parthia into a powerful empire and one of Ancient Rome's greatest rivals.

Invernizzi explained that the complex expanded out from an original cluster of buildings protected by walled fortifications after Mithradates conquered Iran and Mesopotamia.

So far, he said, perfectly conserved walls of six to eight meters high had been uncovered, with the original decoration still distinguishable.

Substantial buildings, Mithraic mausoleums and shrines, inscribed documents and a looted treasury have also come to light.

Smaller finds include various artworks, marble statues, fragments of massive clay monuments -- including a depiction of Mithradates -- and around 40 ivory drinking horns, the outer rims of which decorated with people or classical mythological scenes.

Italian archaeologists started excavating Old Nisa -- which was totally destroyed by an earthquake in the first decade BC -- in 1990, picking up where earlier digs by the Russians had left off in the 1950s.

The Parthian Empire was the most powerful force on the Iranian plateau from the 3rd century BC onwards, intermittently controlling Mesopotamia between 190 BC and 224 AD.

Originally a tribe of nomads, the Parni people rose to power under Mithradates.

At one point, its empire occupied all of modern Iran, Iraq and Armenia, parts of Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. It also briefly held territories in Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine. (click here to read full article)


Same old sad story: Dams violating Iran's cultural heritage

Tehran, 2 May 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Once again, we must hear the sad story of the construction of dams violating Iran's ancient sites. Unfortunately, this probably will not be the last time the tale is told.

A total of 42 ancient and historical sites from the Elamite, Parthian, Achaemenid, Sassanid, and Islamic eras will be submerged by the Salman-e Farsi, Mulla Sadra, and Marvast dams in Iran's southern province of Fars, an expert of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization said on Monday.

The ancient and historical sites have been identified through initial studies, however, the number is expected to increase after comprehensive studies, Alireza Asgari added.

According to the schedule set by the Ministry of Energy, the Mulla Sadra Dam near the town of Lamard and the Salman-e Farsi Dam near the town of Qir will become operational in the early months of 2006. Construction of the dams began in 1994. The Marvast Dam is also nearing completion.

"The main structures of the dams are located in the areas which are home to many significant ancient sites. For example, archaeologists have found evidence of the presence of a great fire temple in the reservoir area of the Salman-e Farsi Dam," Asgari said.

"Despite the time limit, no widespread studies or excavations have been carried out at the sites yet. Numerous teams of archaeologists should be sent to the regions to save artifacts and gather information from the sites," he added.

The Fars Regional Water Authority is also working on 20 more dam projects in the province.

One of the projects is the Sivand Dam at the ancient site of Tang-e Bolaghi, which is located only four kilometers away from Pasargadae, the first capital of the Achaemenids (550-330 BC) and the residence of Cyrus the Great. The dam is scheduled to become operational in March 2006.

Several teams of Italian, Japanese, Polish, French, German, and Australian archaeologists have been assigned to save 129 ancient sites from the Neolithic and Paleolithic periods, the early, middle, and late Elamite era (2700-645 BC), and the Sassanid era (224-651 CE) in Tang-e Bolaghi. (click here to read full article)


Parthian city discovered on Minab plain

Tehran, 27 Apr 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

MinabA team of Iranian and British archaeologists have discovered a Parthian era city on Minab plain in Iran's southern province of Hormozgan, the director of the team announced on Wednesday.

"The city was discovered by chance during the study of Minab plain, which had been previously identified," Alireza Khosrozadeh said, adding that no excavation of the area has been carried out but facilities are being prepared for the team to confine the site for further study.

The team is currently making an initial study on the Parthian city and will soon submit a comprehensive plan for excavation of the site to the Center for Archaeological Studies.

Evidence for pre-Islamic occupation around the Straits of Hormuz was first documented in 1930-31 by Sir Aurel Stein and subsequent surveys by a number of scholars, including Alexander Williamson.

The Stein and Williamson surveys identified approximately 27 archaeological sites on the Persian Gulf coastal plain or associated with the first range of coastal ridges in an area extending from Minab to about 40 kilometers southward, and to the Persian Gulf shore about 30 kilometers westward, which have evidence of pre-Islamic occupation.

Two British archaeologists of the team from the University of Durham are studying the information compiled by Williamson.

The British archaeologists are to continue their collaboration with Iranian experts on the site next year. (click here to read full article)


Parthian era Phraaspa Castle discovered in Atropatene region

Tehran, 20 Apr 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Phraaspa, an ancient castle of the Parthian province of Atropatene, was discovered during the archaeological studies near Zahak Castle in Hashtrud, in Iran's northwestern province of East Azarbaijan. "Due to the historical documents indicating that Phraaspa was located somewhere in Azarbaijan, our team began studying some areas around Zahak Castle, which dates back to the Parthian era. After finding more than 20 habitation sites and eight barbicans from the Parthian era, we were certain we had discovered the ancient castle," said Mohammad Feizkhah, an expert of the East Azarbaijan Cultural and Tourism Department.

Alexander occupied Media in the summer of 330 BC. In 328 he appointed Atropates, a former general of Darius, as satrap. In the partition of his empire, southern Media was given to the Macedonian Peithon; but the north, which lay far off and was of little importance for the generals who fought for the inheritance of Alexander, was left to Atropates.

While southern Media with Ecbatana passed to the rule of Antigonus, and afterwards to Seleucus I, Atropates maintained himself in his satrapy and succeeded in founding an independent kingdom. Thus the partition of the country, which the Persians had introduced, became lasting; the north was named Atropatene, after the founder of the dynasty, a name which is preserved in modern Azarbaijan.

The capital was Gazaca in the central plain, and the strong castle of the city was Phraaspa, which was believed to be identical with the great ruin Takht-e Suleiman, with remains of Sassanid fire temples and of a later palace.

A number of archaeologists also previously believed that Phraaspa was located in the region around Bakhtak Castle in southern East Azerbaijan Province.

"Since there are no defensive structures and wide plains near Bakhtak Castle, we can not say that Phraaspa was located in the surrounding area," Feizkhah argued.

"The newly discovered sites are scattered over wide areas. In addition, archaeologists have previously discovered many religious monuments and artifacts dating back to the Parthian era near Zahak Castle," he said in conclusion. (click here to read full article)


Important Parthian City Found in Eastern Azarbaijan

Tehran, 19 Apr2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

Click to enlargeArchaeologists have identified residential quarters and fortifications discovered in the vicinities of the historical fortress of Zahhak in the north western province of Eastern Azarbaijan, as Faras Pa, one of the major Parthian cities of Iran.

Based on historical documents, Faras Pa has been the capital of the local government of Atropathen and considered one of the major cities of the Parthian era. The city was raided by Greek forces, but wars of attrition forced the invaders to withdraw.

Following the historical evidence on Faras Pa's location in Azarbaijan area, archaeologists launched a series of studies around the historical Zahhak fortress which dates back to the Parthian times, explained archaeology expert with the Eastern Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization, Mohammad Feizkhah.

The excavations led to the discovery of more than twenty residential areas and eight watchtowers confirming the once existence of the Faras Pa city there.

According to Feizkhah, despite the fact that many parts of the residential areas are hidden underneath the new villages and agricultural lands, they are very vast, including one that spreads in an area of seven hectares.

Before the discoveries around Zahhak fortress in Hashtroud area of Eastren Azarbaijan, experts believed that the Faras Pa city was located near Bakhtak fortress in the southern part of the province. (click here to read full article)


Iranian history to go under hammer at Christie's

Tehran, 19 Apr 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A collection of Iran's historic and ancient artworks are to be sold at Christie's auction house in London during three sales entitled "Faces from the Ancient World, a European Private Collection", "Islamic Art and Manuscripts", and "Oriental Rugs and Carpets." An Achaemenid era bas-relief depicting the head of a soldier, which had been severed from the eastern staircase of the Apadana Palace in Persepolis, will be sold in Faces from the Ancient World on April 20. The bas-relief was smuggled from Iran about 70 years ago and was purchased for the first time in 1971 at Sotheby's, another London-based auction house.

Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) was informed on April 3 that the owner of the bas-relief intended to sell it at Christie's and immediately notified the auction house to halt the sale of the artifact. The legal complaint filed against the owner of the bas-relief by the CHTO demanding its return was presented to a London court on April 18.

The bas-relief has been estimated to be worth £200,000 to £300,000, making it the most expensive item of all the artworks offered in the auction.

Three bronze situlae dating back to the 11th to 10th centuries BC; a bronze whetstone socket with hone from the late 2nd to early 1st millennium BC from the southwestern Iranian province of Lorestan; and a Parthian/Sassanid bone figure of an idol dating back to the early 1st millennium CE will also be on sale at the first auction.

A great collection of artifacts from different Iranian eras, including a Quran from the early Timurid era (15th century), and a large number of bowls, pottery works, glass bottles, hardwood inscription beams, a carved jade talisman, and many other relics will be sold in the Islamic Art and Manuscripts auction, which is to be held on April 26.

Two versions of Khamseh (Quintet) composed by Iranian poet Nezami (1141-1203 CE) and another poetry book also called Khamseh composed by the Persian-speaking Indian poet Amir Khosro Dehlavi (1253-1325 CE), which were all transcribed in the Safavid era, as well as some Qajar era stationary made of turquoise and a piece of a Seljuk era silk textile will be on sale in this auction.

A painting depicting Qajar era official Mirza Aqa Khan Nuri which has been signed by Mirza Abolhassan Khan Naghashbashi Ghaffari, the royal painter of Nassereddin Shah, and many photos from Iranian holy places will also be on sale in the Islamic Art and Manuscripts auction.

A large number of beautiful Persian carpets and rugs woven in different parts of Iran will be on sale in the Oriental Rugs and Carpets auction on April 28. (click here to read full story)


Ten Parthian Casks Discovered in Rig Port Waters

London, 10 Apr 2005 (CAIS)

Click to enlargeTen casks dating to the Parthian dynasty have been discovered in the waters of Rig Port in the southern province of Boushehr. The casks were primarily used for burying the dead, and then for some 1000 years (before Abbasids) for trade and transfer of wine.

The underwater archaeology team of Iran recently discovered 10 casks in Rig Port coastal waters. Most of these casks are broken down, and only one remains intact. This type of cask has been the main container of liquids in Ancient Iran.

"Several items including headpieces, armors, and stone anchors were discovered during the first season of exploration in Rig waters. The archaeology team therefore decided to focus their work on documentation, photography, and filming of the explored sites," explained head of the exploration team, Hussein Tofighian. Meanwhile the site was studies furthermore and several casks were found there, added Tofighian.

The area under study spreads one kilometer into and 5 to 8 kilometers deep into the coastal waters of a southern island of Rig port, where some historical remains are scattered on the sea bed.

According to Tofighian, the intact cask provides useful information on the casks which were of great importance in the Persian Gulf region. The casks, with their wide mouths and small pointed bases, have a form different than those used in European ports and ships; however, they rival the European type in their historical value and expansive use to bury the dead or carry liquids both for daily tasks and trade.

Underwater archaeologists believe that the discovered items are remains of a sunken ship, the body of which has moved or dissolved due to time passage, strong underwater currents, and local fishing activities. (see following story)


Parthian jars discovered in southern Iran

Tehran, 10 Apr 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

One intact and nine broken jars dating back to the Parthian era (1st century BC to early 3rd century CE) were discovered during an underwater archaeological operation in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Rig Port in Bushehr Province, the director of the archaeological team announced on Sunday.

"In our initial studies during the first phase of excavations, we found several helmets, armor, and stone anchors in the region. These artifacts led our team to the discovery of the jars in the second phase of excavations," Hossein Tofiqian added.

The torpito jars with open mouths and sharp legs were used as coffins during the Parthian era but were later used for transporting liquids in trade. The artifacts differ from the amphorae used often by European ships; torpitos were used by people living in the Persian Gulf, Tofiqian said.

The first phase of excavations was carried out by a team of archaeologists from Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization and Britain's University of Durham, which began work in late November 2004 with the aim of discovering aspects of the social and economic life of the historical site during the Chalcolithic era (7000? to 3500? BC), while the previous excavations at the site mostly focused on the Elamite, Achaemenid, and Islamic eras.

The team discovered some artifacts including pottery and shards indicating that the process of baking earthenware was practiced at the site. In addition, several pieces of stone tools in different sizes were discovered, proving that the inhabitants of the region were farmers 7000 years ago. (click here to read full story)


Over 400 bas-relief works discovered in southeastern Iran

Tehran, 6 Apr 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Over 400 bas-relief works, dating back to the Sassanid and Parthian dynasties, were recently discovered in Sarduyeh, in northern area of Jiroft, Kerman Province. The bas-relief works bear the images of human beings in hunting positions carrying bows and arrows, as well as images of wild goats and cats, said head of the archaeological team in the region on Wednesday.

Nader Ali-Soleymani added that studying the works which mostly belong to the Parthian era can reveal people's beliefs, and their cultural, economic and social structures.

Experts had previously discovered several other bas-relief works in five various regions in the province, he added.

Soleymani stated that a group of experts are widely studying the bas-relief works found in the province.

Bas-relief is a style of art in which the engraved figures project slightly from the background. (click here to read full story)


Temple -- Tourist Attraction

Kermanshah, 16 Mar 2005 (IRNA)

Anahita Temple Experts believe the Anahita Temple was built during the rule of Parthian dynasty in Iran. It is located in the city of Kangavar in this western province behind a hill, the highest point of which is 32 meters.
(click here to read full article)
Anahita Temple

Photos by IRNA bureau in Kermanshah

   

Archaeologists save 2500-year-old shards of Tang-e Bolaghi

Tehran, 23 Feb 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of Iranian and Italian archaeologists collected 4000 shards, some dating back to about 2500 years ago, from Tang-e Bolaghi, which will be flooded by the waters of the Sivand Dam, the director of the Iranian archaeological group said on Wednesday.

Situated in Fars Province, Tang-e Bolaghi is located only four kilometers away from Pasargadae, the first capital of the Achaemenid dynasty (about 550-331 B.C.) and the residence of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire. Pasargadae was registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List last July.

"The categorization of the shards can provide important information for experts because not much data has been gathered about the last periods of the Achaemenid and Sassanid dynasties in Fars Province," Alireza Asgari added.

"The discovered shards will also provide some information on local, Seleucid, and Parthian rulers as well as on ordinary people living in the region," Asgari said.

Some experts believe that Tang-e Bolaghi was once a part of the ancient imperial route connecting Pasargadae to Persepolis and Susa. The ancient area also contains sites from the Neolithic and Paleolithic periods, the middle and late Elamite era (2700-645 B.C.), and the Sassanid era (224-651 C.E.).

With no expert-level feasibility studies conducted beforehand, construction of a dam was begun in 1992 in the region of Tang-e Bolaghi. The dam is scheduled to be completed by March 2006 and afterwards a part of the ancient city will be buried under tons of mud from the Polvar River.

A number of experts of the Parseh and Pasargadae Foundation from Iran and teams of Italian, Polish, Japanese, French, German, and Australian archaeologists began operations in early January to save 129 ancient sites at Tang-e Bolaghi. Each team is working on specific sites.

A number of other dams, all in advanced stages of construction, have been identified as threatening Iran's ancient sites in several provinces including Gilan in the north, Kermanshah in the west, Khuzestan in the southwest, and East Azarbaijan in the northwest.

The reservoir of the Karun-3 Dam in Khuzestan was recently filled and a large amount of the cultural heritage of ancient Izeh became new sites for underwater archaeology!

Archaeologists had identified 80 sites in the region from the Epipaleolithic period (20,000-10,000 B.C.), including 13 caves and four rock shelters. The river valley also has a large number of rock-carved reliefs, graves, ancient caves, and other monuments and artifacts from the Elamite era. (click here to read full story)


3000-year-old shards discovered in northern Iran

Tehran, 6 Feb 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

The team of archaeologists working at the Kalvarz Hill of Rustamabad in Gilan Province recently unearthed 3000-year-old shards that they say may lead to the discovery of an ancient city. The archaeologists hope that they can also discover ruins in order to shed light on the architectural style of the site, said the director of the team, Mohammadreza Khalatbari.

Studies of previously discovered shards prove that the site was inhabited until the Parthian era and was abandoned after that, he noted.

The gray earthenware discovered in the lower strata of the hill dating back to the first millennium B.C. as well as the red earthenware discovered at the site indicate that the hill was a residential area during the Iron Age, he said.

But no signs of architecture dating back to the Iron Age have been found, he added.

The discovery of mud brick ovens and their vents are also signs of a city, he observed.

More research must be carried out to discover the architecture of the residential area, he added.

Animal fossils have also been discovered at the site.

Over 44 archeological and historical sites from the first millennium B.C. have been discovered and identified in the Rustamabad region of northern Iran. (click here to read full story)


Pahlavi language words still used in central Iran

Tehran, 5 Feb 2005 (Mehr News Agency)

Some words of the Pahlavi language are still used by the people of Abyaneh, which is near Kashan in the central Iranian province of Isfahan. Cultural anthropologist Abbas Torabzadeh said on Saturday that the dialect of Abyaneh has changed over the years, but the local people still use some ancient words from the Pahlavi Ashkani language here and there.

The Pahlavi Ashkani language, a branch of Middle Persian which was spoken in the Parthian era, has almost been forgotten but a few words of the original language are still heard in Abynaeh.

The director of the Anthropology Research Center of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) is convinced that since language is a dynamic and active phenomenon, one can not easily say an old language is dead and a new one has replaced it.

"Language keeps changing. New words are constantly being coined and replaced, and some old words begin to be forgotten," Mohammad Mirshokra'i observed.

The people of Abyaneh have retained some words of the Pahlavi Ashkani language, but one can not say they are speaking the language in its original form, he added.

There is also a language called Taati spoken by the people of Jolfa in western Iran, Mirshokra'i noted.

Taati is a language that developed from Middle Persian almost independently of modern Persian. It has retained many of the characteristics of the Sassanid era Pahlavi language. Taati can be understood by Persian speakers with a little practice.

There is a great danger that that the Pahlavi Ashkani words used by Abyaneh residents will be replaced by modern Persian expressions, since the town is gradually becoming a major tourist magnet.

Middle Persian is a language that developed around 300 B.C., shortly after the end of the Achaemenid era, and is divided into Pahlavi Ashkani and Pahlavi Sassani. The alphabet used for Middle Persian is called Pahlavi and is written from right to left. (click here to read full story)


International Committee to Save Historical Remains of Tang-e-Bolaghi

London, 18 Jan 2005 (CAIS)

An international committee will be set up to help save the 129 archeological remains of Tang-e-Bolaghi gorge that will go under water when the Sivand Dam is flooded one year from now.

The 18 km Tang-e-Bolaghi is located 4 kilometers from the world heritage site of Pasargadae and is considered part of the first capital of the Achaemenid dynasty. Scholars believe it has been the kingdom route and the most important road of the country during the Achaemenid time, connecting Pasargadae to Persepolis and Susa.

Head of the Pars-e Pasargadae project, Mohammad Hasan Talebian, told CHN that they are trying to set up a committee under the supervision of UNESCO to prevent the loss of the historical sites of the area.

According to Talebian, scholars from Italy, France, Japan, Australia, Germany, Poland and England have so far announced their readiness to take part in the excavations of Tang-e-Bolaghi, and it is hoped that more would show up with the setting up of the committee, which is hoped to form in the upcoming months.

The formal request to organize the committee has already been handed to UNESCO and Mounir Bouchenaki, UNESCO assistant director general for culture has announced his approval when visiting the site, said Talebian.

Some 129 historical remains have been discovered in the area during the recent months, which include hills, metal kilns, caves and residential areas dating to the time before Christ, stone kilns, two group cemeteries, and more than 7 kilometers of border made by stone at the Parthian times.

Sivand Dam is planned to be flooded by next year when nearly 8 kilometers of historical sites of the Tang-e-Bolaghi gorge will go under water.

Dams have been constructed in the recent years to help economic development and water supply in some developing countries, but these projects have endangered their cultural heritage and therefore scholars have been prompted to save them before flooding the dams.

Pasargadae ancient site, 70 km north of Persepolis in Fars province, consists of many historical treasures like Cyrus Mausoleum and Public Audience Palace, and is the first Achaemenid capital in which the oldest Iranian garden system called Chahar-bagh (4 gardens) was used.

Pasargadae is the fifth Iranian site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2004, and therefore deserves special care and any attempt to endanger it is prohibited.

The construction of Sivand Dam started in 1992 on the river of Tang-e-Bolaghi without the permission of the Iranian Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization. (click here to read full story)


Parthian Circular City Found in Khorasan

Tehran, 10 Jan 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

Iranian archeologists have found the architectural plan of a Parthian circular city in Nehbandan castle in southern Khorasan.

Nehbandan castleNehbandan castle is one of the most important ancient cities in Iran that has signs of different historical periods. Though it hasn't been much excavated, archeologists have found remains from Parthian (250 BC – 226 AD) to Safavid (1501 – 1722) eras.

"As this site hasn't been studied much, we began studying the structures in this historical complex 2 years ago and found out that it has a circular form", Naser Nasr-abadi, head of excavations in this site, told CHN.

Aerial photographs have been a great help in identifying the circular form of this city that has a diameter of 250 sq meters and covers an area of about 50 sq meters, said Nasr-abadi.

According to historical documents, circular architecture was much used in different historical periods including Parthian era, but this is the first archeological evidence of this kind of city belonging to Parthian era found in Iran.

Iranian experts have studied this city extensively in the last 3 years in order to identify its precise historical background. Now on the basis of a piece of ceramic with Pahlavi inscriptions and the head of a statue belonging to Parthian era, the experts are assured that the city has been built in Parthian era and been of great importance to this dynasty. (click here to read full article)


Parthian and Sassanid Sites Discovered in Northwestern Iran

Tehran, 9 Jan 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

A joint Iranian and foreign research team has recently discovered four huge historical sites dating back to the Parthian and Sassanid eras at the Moghan Plateau in Ardebil Province.

The director of the team, Karim Alizadeh, said on Saturday that the team was completing their research work in the region when they discovered the sites.

"The historical sites were surrounded by canals used to irrigate the agricultural lands and protect the area as well," he added.

"The team, which included archaeologists and experts from Tehran and Tabriz universities, the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization as well as New York University, was working in the region for the past month," said Alizadeh.

He went on to say that preliminary findings indicate that the sites were from the Parthian (250 B.C.-226 C.E.) and Sassanid (226–651 C.E.) eras, proving that the Moghan Plateau was a very important farming area.

"The sites and the discovered artifacts reveal the fact that these newly discovered sites have many affinities with those in Khuzestan and the Mesopotamian area. They show that the Sassanids had organized systematic and developed agricultural activities throughout the country, but for some unknown reasons they were later neglected," he said.

Alizadeh noted the significance of the discovery of affinities between the southern region of Khuzestan and the Moghan Plateau in northwestern Iran, despite their different climates, and added that these findings should be studied more thoroughly.

The studies will help shed light on the lifestyles, economy, and commercial trade links of different regions of Iran in ancient times, he said in conclusion. Source : Mehr News Agency (click here to read full story)


Parthian Era Subterranean Village Discovered Near Maragheh

Tehran, 10 Jan 2005 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)

Iranian archaeologists have discovered a Parthian era village under the earth near the Mehr Temple of the northwestern city of Maragheh, the director of the Maragheh Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department said on Wednesday.

"Since the Mehr Temple is one of the little known sites of Iran, our team planned to carry out some excavations around it to ascertain some details about the temple. The excavations resulted in the discovery of an underground village which archaeologists believe dates back to the Parthian era," Nasser Zavvari added.

The Mehr Temple, which was constructed in the Parthian era (247 B.C.–224 C.E.), is located 65 kilometers from the city of Maragheh in East Azarbaijan Province. It was one of the main temples of the religion of Mithraism in ancient Iran.

The village is located at a depth of one meter below ground level and some holes were used as entrances into the underground community, he said.

"A number of houses of the village of Varju'i are located above the underground village. We plan to buy the houses to protect the area for additional studies," Zavvari said.

Several months ago, archaeologists announced they had discovered a three-story underground shelter from the Sassanid era in southern Isfahan Province. Their initial study indicated that the shelter was built for military purposes and could hide about 50 people.

The underground shelter has seven halls as well as three large and two small rooms. Each floor was linked to the other through several holes and a staircase leads to the main entrance of the shelter.

Archaeologists have determined that earthenware discovered inside the shelter dates back to the Sassanid era (226-651 C.E.).

In addition, a team of archaeologists has recently unearthed another underground city near Nushabad, Isfahan Province.

Experts believe study of the newly discovered ancient subterranean communities can provide valuable information about the architecture of ancient Iran. Thus, a new field of study called subterranean or hand-dug architecture has been established. Source : Mehr News Agency (click here to read full story)


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