Locals threatening prehistoric engravings in northeastern Iran

April 25, 2010

TEHRAN -- The unique prehistoric engravings near the town of Torqabeh are currently being threatened by local opportunists.

They break apart granite rocks bearing engravings created by prehistoric people and use the fragments for covering the courtyard floors of their villas, the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency (MNA) reported on Saturday.
Depicting human and animal motifs, a large number of engravings located in the regions of Kamar Maqbula, Kalateh Ziri, Kalateh Kuhi, and the Daghestan Valley have already been obliterated.
No institution or local official wants to assume responsibility for safeguarding the ancient etchings.
“I think some of the officials have a hand in that ruination. If not, why don’t they stop people from destroying these artifacts?” a cultural activist in Torqabeh, Rafi’a, told MNA.
“The stone engravings remaining from our ancestors have been invaded by certain self-seekers and opportunists… if the officials and the local citizenry continue ignoring this catastrophe, the beautiful and fascinating region will be turned into ruins in the near future,” declared a person from Torqabeh, who chose to remain anonymous.
Sometime ago, 30 percent of Kamar Maqbula was destroyed by a company that had signed an agreement with a number of Torqabeh officials to exploit granite from the region.
The Torqabeh Municipality intervened and mining was stopped. However, other people have recently resumed destroying the artifacts
Analysts believe that certain people want to wipe out the engravings, in order to remove restrictions on granite mining in the region.
“If there is an (governmental) intention of preserving historical relics, the Torqabeh Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handcrafts Office should intervene,” Torqabeh City Council member Alireza Ma’afian said.
Torqabeh is located at about 16 kilometers southwest of Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province, in northeastern Iran.
Photo: Engravings depicting animal motifs on one of the rocks in the Kamar Maqbula region remain intact. (Photo by Mehr)