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Construction materials discovered in Persian Gulf underwater archaeological excavations
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A member of the archaeological team working on Iran’s historical port of Siraf in the Persian Gulf takes notes during an underwater excavation. (Photo by ISNA)
A member of the archaeological team working on Iran’s historical port of Siraf in the Persian Gulf takes notes during an underwater excavation. (Photo by ISNA)
TEHRAN -- A team of U.S. and Iranian archaeologists working on Iran’s historical port of Siraf has recently discovered some construction materials during their underwater excavations on the shore of the Persian Gulf.
 
“Some construction materials like those seen in the ruins of the buildings on the coast were seen during the excavations,” the U.S.-based Iranian director of the team, Sorna Khakzad, told the Persian service of ISNA on Saturday.
 
The excavations have been organized to demarcate the historical boundaries of Siraf, which is located in the northwestern part of Bushehr Province in southern Iran.
 
“We have discovered a number of man-made stone blocks and parts of walls, the mortar of which has been washed away by seawater over the years,” Khakzad said.
 
However, no intact structures were found during the excavations as the team uncovered a certain area 400 meters into the sea, she added.
 
Six seasons of excavations had been carried out by British archaeologist David Whitehouse and his Iranian colleagues between 1966 and 1973.
 
No underwater excavations were carried out during the six seasons, said Khakzad, who has previously studied the results of the excavations which are kept at the British Museum.
 
“According to some historical sources, part of Siraf was submerged as result of a quake in the 10th century CE,” she said.
 
Khakzad also plans to determine whether Siraf has been submerged by a quake or by the rise in the sea level.
 
At one time, the port had been one of the major centers for marketing pearls and silk in the region, but it has been gradually submerged over the centuries, Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR) Director Mahmud Mireskandari previously said.
 
“The U.S. archaeologists have brought special equipment necessary for underwater excavation as we do not have such gear in Iran,” Mireskandari said.
 
The ICAR, which organized this season of excavation, has not disclosed the identities of the U.S. experts working on the archaeological project. 
 
According to the Siraf Cultural Heritage Studies Center former director, three or four archaeological strata have previously been identified at the site. 
 
The most ancient layer dates back to the Parthian period, and the major archeological strata are related to the Sassanid era and the early Islamic period, Behruz Marbaghi said.
 
He said that most of the archeological strata have been submerged under the sea.
 
“According to some historians, the city of Siraf had a population of about 300,000 during the early Islamic era and this fact shows that it was a large city. However, today, just 7000 people live in Siraf in a small area,” Marbaghi said.
 
He described the historical society of Siraf as a civilization and said, “If the archeologists can identify the Siraf civilization, the history of the region would have to be revised.”
 
MMS/YAW
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