Lack of budget halts maintenance of millennia-old site near Tehran

November 24, 2020 - 18:17

TEHRAN - The government must set a proper budget for the restoration and conservation of Tepe Ozbaki, a magnificent archaeological hill situated in Alborz province westward of the Iranian capital Tehran, a provincial official said on Monday.  

“No funds have been allocated for the restoration of Tepe Ozbaki in the current [Iranian calendar] year (started March 2020),” Abbas Nouri said.

“None of the previously-proposed plans for the restoration of Tepe Ozbaki has been implemented this year due to financial constraints and credit problems the government faces.” 

The official also lamented that the total budget so far being allocated to the provincial department of cultural heritage is “insufficient”.

Restoration of historical sites, buildings, and complexes are often very costly, and with limited financial resources, no significant change could be expected.

Also called Ozbaki or Uzbaki Teppeh, the site is situated near Nazarabad, some 80 km west of Tehran. The site has yielded cultural relics dating from the first half of the 7th millennium to the first half of the first millennium BC, i.e. the Medes period.

The discovery of objects such as tablets, statuettes, and ‘jagged’ earthenware in Ozbaki hill indicate some kind of commercial link between Susa in Khuzestan and this in Tehran province, according to senior Iranian archaeologist Yousef Majidzadeh who led the excavations at Ozbaki, Qabristan, and Jiroft hills.

Back in 2016, the archaeological enclosure opened to the public as an open-air museum of cultural heritage. It was announced in the same year that the archaeological enclosure is in the queue for registration in the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Experts say the significance of the site was such that the invaders, after occupying it, chose it as their settlement and their rulers built a castle to control a major part of their territories in the central plateau.

Considering the scattered form of the mounds and according to earthenware findings, it can be said that the area of Ozbaki site is about 100 acres. Before excavations at Ozbaki Tappeh, the oldest sites so far found in the central Iranian Plateau were only found in the Silk Tappeh near Kashan and Zagheh Tappeh in the Qazvin Plain.

Until the 1970s, the in-depth knowledge of the chronicle of prehistoric cultures in the Central Plateau was based on the results of French excavations in Kashan's Silk mound. According to this chronology, since the most ancient times up to the mid 4th millennium, BC the societies of these regions belonged to the same culture, one which continued during the above millennia continuously.

However, in the early 1970s, excavations led by this author in the Qabrestan Tappeh in the Qazvin plain revealed new findings in the form of different earthenware. In excavations in Ozbaki Tappeh we found similar remains of earthenware called Plum Ceramics because of their color. Coherent architectural remains belonging to this culture were also found, leaving no doubt about the invasion of migrating intruders, confirming social and political changes in this part of the land of Iran. Although there is still no concrete evidence of the origin of the invaders, it seems that their original homeland was a region beyond the Caucus Mountains.

Furthermore, a minute study of the prehistoric earthenware of the Central Plateau shows that the differences between these periods are so considerable that each kind of pot represents a different ethnic group, indicating the movements of different ethnic groups in the Central Plateau. Doubtlessly future studies on human bone findings, particularly DNA tests will answer such questions.

Studies also suggest that the discovery of objects such as tablets, statuettes, and "jagged" earthenware in Ozbaki Tappeh indicates some kind of commercial link between Susa in Khuzestan and this are in Tehran province.


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