Sunday, February 26, 2006

Excavation of Espidež Cemetery Suspended Due to Funding Shortfall

LONDON, 26 February 2006 (CAIS) -- The third phase of excavations have been suspended at the 5,000-year-old Espidež cemetery due to a lack of funding and thus archaeologists will be unable to safeguard the site, which is being threatened by smugglers, the director of the team of archaeologists working at the ancient site said on Sunday.
“Smugglers searching for artifacts in the graves have destroyed the cemetery inch by inch. The artifacts have been plundered or broken in the graves, which are in bad condition, such that the team is not able to derive any information from them,” Mohammad Heydari told the Persian service of CHN.
Cultural heritage officials have allocated 300 million rials (about $33,000) for the third phase of excavations at the ancient site but the team has not yet received the funds.
The Espidež cemetery is located 25 kilometers from Zabol in Iran’s southeastern province of Sistan va Baluchestan. The cemetery is situated beside a road, facilitating the plunder of the graves by smugglers, Heydari said. The smugglers, who are often armed, have recently looted one hectare of the cemetery.


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