During the widening of a road by the Islamic Republic’s controlled Iran’s National Oil Company near the city of Ahwaz, a large historical site dating back to the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE - 224 CE) was seriously damaged and some sections were completely destroyed, as reported by the Persian service of the Friends of Khuzestan’s Friends of Cultural Heritage Society (TARIANA).
Apparently the destruction of the site began over a decade ago by the Islamic Republic’s Construction Jihad Foundation. The name and the exact location of the site have been kept secret for security reasons.
“Destruction of this important site which its’ name cannot be disclosed for security reasons, began in 1990s by the Jihad Foundation,” said Mojtaba Gahestuni, the director of Tariana.
“The ancient site is over 150 hectares and there is evidence of mudbrick walls, large cut stones, stone-constructions, a fire-alter as well as decorated potsherds scattered over the site,” said Gahestuni.
He continued “in this site there is a large cemetery which is covered with broken pieces of large red coloured-torpedo shaped earthenware urns, typical of Parthian dynastic art and black-wares dating back to the 1st millennium BCE.”
Currently the ancient Iranian site is left unprotected at the mercy of the Oil Company’s bulldozers and smugglers alike. The responsibility of the security of the site lies with the provincial Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation (KCHHTO) but no action has been taken yet to protect it.
Not so surprisingly, but ironically KCHHTO has been responsible for the destruction of many pre-Islamic Iranian sites in the Khuzestan Province.
“KCHHTO is fully aware of the site’s cultural and historical importance, not only have no measures been taken to secure the site, but also no steps were made to register the site on the national heritage list or commission a preliminary archaeological survey to demarcate the boundaries of the site,” said Gahestuni.
Registering a site in today’s Iran does not mean anything as many archaeological and historical sites which were registered on the list some since 1930s have been damaged and even totally obliterated and nothing was done to protect them, such as last years destruction of a Partho-Sasanian site in Susa.
The Parthian site contains a free-standing stone structure which is believed to be a Parthian Mausoleum.
“In the site there is a large cubic-structure made of stone and saruj mortar, which is 2 meters in height, 6 meters wide and has a 2 meter foundation. Primarily we thought the structure was an ābanbār (water storage), but it is more likely to be a mausoleum.”
He concluded “if any archaeological researches are to be conducted on the site we will surly find the coinage and written-evidence to obtain more information about the ancient site.”