Smugglers rush to plunder Ramhormoz ancient sites

April 9, 2009

TEHRAN – Adding insult to injury, illegal excavations by smugglers have become another of the many factors posing threats to the ancient sites of Ramhormoz in Iran’s southern province of Khuzestan.

The construction of an irrigation project in the region has caused a chaotic situation providing the smugglers an opportunity to plunder the sites.
In addition, a number of the ancient sites were already destroyed by the project.
About 20 ancient sites, mostly dating to the Elamite, Achaemenid, and Sassanid eras, have been destroyed and looted so far, Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Lovers Society (Tariana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni told the Persian service of CHN on Wednesday.
Tall-e Molla-Suzi, Tall-e Qasil, Tall-e Qaravol, Tall-e Mashtaneh, Tall-e Barmi, Tall-e Mava, Sar-Talli, Gesr Tepe, Baghdak Tepe, Mulucheh Tepe, Kait Tepe, Abbas Tepe, Marbacheh Tepe, Subiti Tepe, Sar-Cheshmeh Tepe, Baiman Tepe, Chahar-Taqi Tepe, Peivarzi Tepe, and Jubji are among the sites that have been damaged and pillaged.
The construction of the irrigation canal, which is currently underway, will also lead to the destruction of several other sites in the region in the upcoming days, Gahestuni noted.
The Cultural Heritage Guard Command has been informed about the plunder of the sites, but they have argued that the illegal excavations had been carried out two months ago and are old.
“Unfortunately, the judicial authority has not been informed about the destruction and plunder of the sites in Ramhormoz,” Gahestuni lamented.
Every day, cultural heritage officials order their workers to fill the holes excavated by the smugglers, but none of the officials has offered any explanations about the catastrophe.
In May 2007, two U-shaped coffins containing skeletons of a girl and a woman, who are surmised to have been members of an Elamite royal family, were discovered along with a great number of artifacts during a grading operation for the canal at the Jubji site.
Since the grading operation continued even after this extraordinary discovery, the gravesite has been almost completely obliterated.
In addition, an Achaemenid site in Ramhormoz, which includes ruins of two Achaemenid palaces, was almost entirely demolished by a road construction project in 2005.
Only the ruins of four column bases of the palaces remain in the region.
Photo: An excavation created by smugglers in the Ramhormoz region