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6 April 2005
Ancient Iranian cemetery looted

The ancient cemetery of Sarm Tepe, close to the central Iranian city of Qom, is regularly being looted by smugglers.
    Khosro Purbakhshandeh, the director of the archaeological team working on the site, said "In depth of 20 centimeters to six meters, the site contains many ancient items. The excavations carried out over the past years have increased the value of the site. A break between two phases of excavation provided a good opportunity for smugglers to dig out artifacts in the region."
    “Remarkable part of studies became futile because of the illegal excavations. Presence of smugglers means destruction of cultural heritage in the region because they not only loot artifacts but also have no care in their excavation. Thus many other artifacts are destroyed in the excavations."
    One of the artefacts destroyed was a unique common grave containing a couple, which had previously been excavated. Other artefacts found during previous excavations are unique to this site and don't occur at other ancient Iranian sites.
    “We could learn about the immigration of the people living at 200 to 300 kilometers around if the archaeological studies continued. The studies could also result in finding new information, which could help identification of the region,” Purbakhshandeh said.

Source: Tehran Times (4 April 2005)

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