Tuesday 5 December 2006
Iran’s Archaeology Research Centre has invited a team of underwater archaeologists from Greece to their Iranian counterparts in raising the newly discovered ancient shipwreck from the Persian Gulf.
According to H. Tofighian, head of the underwater archaeology department of Iran’s Archaeology Research Centre, the decision to invite Greek archaeologists to Iran was made during the recent visit of Director of the Research Centre of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO), Taha Hashemi, to this country. «During his visit, Hashemi met with Greek underwater archaeologists and visited their equipments which he believes are sufficient for undertaking the project in the Persian Gulf. Therefore, he proposed that a team of fully equipped Greek underwater archaeologists come to Iran to assist the Archaeology Research Centre in taking out the sunken ship and its cargo», said Tofighian to CHN.
The ship was accidentally discovered almost three months ago near the port of Siraf (sirāf) at a depth of 70 meters below the Persian Gulf. Initial studies by Iranian underwater archaeologists on the ship and its massive cargo revealed that it was a merchant ship belonging to either the Parthian (248 BCE - 224 CE) or Sasanian (224 - 651 CE) dynastic empires.
From the early days of this discovery, recovery of the Partho-Sassanid shipwreck of the Persian Gulf was seen far from being just a simple archaeology expedition. Considering the lack of experience as well as the insufficient equipments in underwater archaeology in Iran, the Iranian archaeologists concluded that the current state of technology in underwater archaeology in Iran could not meet the demands of such massive project. «We do not have the necessary equipments for diving to the depth of 70 meters, neither do we have much experience in such projects», said Tofighian.
Tofighian believes that the presence of Greek archaeologists in Iran would be a great opportunity for the country’s underwater archaeology since this joint project would allow the Iranian experts in underwater archaeology to closely observe the activities of the Greek experts and learn more about latest techniques and equipments in this field.
Ever since the discovery of this merchant ship in the Persian Gulf, the necessity to purchase advanced diving equipments is felt more than ever in Iran.
«The use of advanced diving equipments requires training which will be provided to the Iranian archaeologists during this joint initiative with Greek experts. On the other hand, we cannot depend on foreign archaeologists to do the job for us forever. Therefore, as soon as we learn how to use the new technology, we will proceed to purchase the equipments», added Tofighian.
He also announced that funding for this project will be provided by Southern Pars Oil Company after the signing of a contract with the Archaeology Research Centre.
Archaeologists believe it dates back to the Parthian or Sassanid dynastic eras based on the potshards brought up in fishing nets and the large amphorae-like vessel recovered from the ship.