Iranian police bust gangs of illegal excavators 

August 30, 2020 - 17:48

TEHRAN – Iranian police have recently busted five gangs of illegal diggers and antique dealers in the past month in the northwestern West Azarbaijan province.

In the latest seizure, which took place in Goytapa near the provincial capital of Urmia, three illegal excavators were detained and surrendered to the judicial system for further investigation, said Behzad Hejabi, a senior police official in charge of protecting cultural heritage, IRNA reported on Sunday.

West Azarbaijan embraces a variety of lush natural sceneries, cultural heritage sites, and museums including the UNESCO sites of Takht-e Soleyman and Qareh Klise (St. Thaddeus Monastery), Teppe Hasanlu and the ruined Bastam Citadel.

The region was a center of several ancient civilizations. According to Britannica, it was conquered by Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC and was named Atropatene after one of Alexander’s generals, Atropates, who established a small kingdom there. Ultimately, the area returned to the Persian (Iranian) rule under the Sasanians in the 3rd century CE.