Wednesday 14 December 2011
Source: Tehran Times.
An expert of the Shushtar Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Office has said that the ruins of the ancient city of Dastvar in Khuzestan Province have been repeatedly looted by groups of invaders over the past few months.
«Only one man stands guard in Dastvar», the expert, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Persian service of CHN on Friday. «Groups of plunders have invaded the city repeatedly, tying the guard’s hands and feet, and then calmly ransacking the ancient graves for artefacts», he added. «No one knows how many artefacts have been unearthed and looted from the graves by the marauders, but since a large part of the site has not been excavated by archaeologists, undoubtedly they have not left the site empty-handed», he explained.
He said that no funds are allocated for safeguarding archaeological sites after excavations. «It is my view that under such conditions, the archaeological excavations should be deemed harmful to the sites, because we do not have the necessary facilities to safeguard them», he added. «Many graves containing significant artefacts have been discovered during a number of archaeological excavations carried out in the site», the expert stated.
Dastvar was part of Elymais, an ancient Parthian vassal state located east of the lower Tigris River and usually considered part of the larger district of Susiana. It incorporated much of the area of the biblical region of Elam, approximately equivalent to the modern region of Khuzestan. The Parthian king Mithradates I (reigned 171-138 BC) captured the province of Elymais and then invaded Babylonia. Most of the Elymais were probably descendants of the ancient Elamites, who once had control of that area in the past. The provinces of Elymais were Massabatice (later Masabadhan), Corbiane and Gabiane. Nothing is known of their language, even though “Elamite” was still used by the Achaemenid Empire 250 years before the Elymais came into existence. A number of Aramaic inscriptions are found in Elymais. The kingdom of Elymais survived until its extinction by Sassanid power accession in early 3rd century AD.
The site was excavated for the first time in 1968 by a team of Iranian archaeologists led by A.A. Sarafraz. Ruins of a grave built of bricks, several kilns used for baking pottery and a number of earthenware containers were discovered during the excavation. The site was excavated four more times by other archaeological teams in 1984, 1988, 1993 and 1998. Blue glazed pottery coffins bearing patterns of braziers and palms were discovered in one of the excavations. They also found pottery coffins decorated with patterns of bunches of grapes and leaves from a grape vine. Busts of Anahiti, the ancient Iranian goddess of royalty, war and fertility, and Mithras, the god of light and truth, were unearthed during the studies.
Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) has forbidden archaeologists working at ancient Iranian sites from giving interviews to the Iranian press since 2009. The ban was imposed after the archaeologists published a great deal of information explaining about the destruction of ancient Iranian sites.
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