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Ruins of ancient city plundered in SW Iran

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. 

Elamite ruins near Izeh, Khuzestan province [Credit: Picasa]
“Only one man stands guard in Dastva,” 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, then calmly ransacking the ancient graves for artifacts,” he added. 

“No one knows how many artifacts 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 artifacts 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. 

The site was excavated for the first time in 1968 by a team of Iranian archaeologists led by Ali-Akbar 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, an 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. 

Source: Tehran Times [December 10, 2011]

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