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5 December 2010
Iranian rock tombs destroyed by explosives

The only known reliefs and rock tombs in Baghmalek district (Khuzestan Province, Iran) known as Roudno have been totally destroyed with explosives. The reason for destruction remains unknown. Despite the importance and uniqueness of the site, it had never been registered on Iran’s national heritage list.
     The news of destruction was initially reported to Khuzestan's Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association (TARIANA) by Bakhtiāri nomads living in the area. The media has blamed smugglers for the destruction who were allegedly searching for treasures, however, the evidence suggests otherwise.
     "The explosives were placed over the two lower reliefs which have both consequently been completely destroyed and we no longer have any evidence of their existence as they had never been recorded" said an archaeologist with ICHTO. "The actual rock tombs are located approximately three meters above the ground level, and in order to search for treasures, explosives are expected to be placed within the chambers which are easily accessible and not outside over the reliefs – therefore suggesting the destruction was intentional", said the archaeologists. "In recent years, the pre-Islamic heritage sites of the province were subjected to a series of organised vandalisms and destructions", concluded the archaeologist.
     What separates Roudno from other rock tombs in the area are its reliefs. In the area the rock tombs have usually been dated to the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE). Although this type of rock tombs dates to the Parthian dynasty, a 63cm tall relief carved on one of the Roudno tombs is puzzling, as it has an Achaemenid style hairdo, wearing a Parthian outfit and boots in an unfamiliar posture holding an object.
Edited from CAIS (2 December 2010)

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