Smugglers sack Sassanid site in southwest Iran

July 19, 2010 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- Smugglers of cultural heritage have looted a Sassanid structure located in the Baghmalek region in northeast Khuzestan Province.

Members of the Baghmalek Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society, who recently visited the ruins of site, found shards scattered around the illegal excavations dug by the Smugglers, society director Yunes Shafiei told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Sunday.
The structure, known by the locals as the Dalkhuni Fort, was used by local rulers after the defeat of the Sassanid Empires.
Initial studies show that the shards date back to the Seljuk era, Shafiei said.
Since the fort lies on a hill surrounded by agricultural land, farmers do not welcome experts on cultural heritage who occasionally visit this site, he noted.
Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts Society (Taryana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni also cofirmed the report.
The smugglers have created several digs to find artifacts at the Dalkhuni Fort, he stated.
The fort had been used as an outpost to protect caravans passing through the region in past periods, he said.
According to Gahestuni, only 6 out of 150 ancient historical sites in the Baghmalek region have been registered on the Iranian National Cultural Heritage List. Even those few on the list are not being safeguarded by the relevant governmental organizations, he lamented.
The governmental organizations lack the necessary staff to safeguard the sites and also do not allow NGOs and cultural heritage enthusiasts societies to intervene, Gahestuni added.
The Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) is responsible for monuments and ancient sites in Iran.
Photo: The ruins of the Dalkhuni Fort and an excavation created by smugglers at the Sassanid fort are shown in a combination photo. (Photos by Taryana)