Friday, September 30, 2005

Smugglers threatening Zahak Castle in Iran


From every side Zahak Castle is surrounded by mountains and long plains bedecked with wild red anemones. At a distance one can see the railway and the railway station. At the depth of the valley like a snake a twisting river comes from west, makes a circle and follows the railway towards east. As if the mountain underneath is like a giant statue of Arab Zahak and the two banks of the river are the dreadful snakes growing from the monsters shoulders. This is the landscape of a mountain which has preserved one of the Iranian ancient sites for thousands of years.

This mountain has housed different civilizations from the second millennium B.C. up to several centuries A.D. If you walk towards the northern mound from the middle cavity you will see a layer of stone walls without mortar. These walls in fact used to serve as the prehistoric battlements of Zahak Fort and date back to the second millennium B.C. The prominent rectangular brow on the battlement is still visible. The entrance gate is located at the end of the western wing and near the valley slope. Remnants of this ancient wall is visible here and there at the northern wing of the castle and where no such walls can be traced the mountain or a sharp slope serves as a wall. Near the prehistoric stone fence earthenwares as old as the second millennium B.C. have been discovered which are related to Median and Achamenid periods. Many of these wares meanwhile belong to the Parthian Dynasty, but few Sassanian earthenware have been unearthed.

Archaeologists excavating the site have found that smugglers have looted the site so there are plans to establish a permanent research facility and guard house in order to protect the cemetery after current excavations are completed.