Thursday, May 18, 2006

Safavid City to be Unearthed after 400 Years


Tehran, 18 May 2006 (CHN) -- 400 years ago, a massive earthquake struck northern Iran and destroyed major parts of its cultural heritage site of Haft Daqnan. Archaeologists believed that there used to be a city with the same name in this historic site belonging to the Safavid era (1501–1736) which was buried after the earthquake hit the region. Now with the start of the second season of archaeological excavations in this historic site, archaeologists are determined to unearth the whole city.
The historic city of Haft Daqnan is located at a distance of 55 kilometers from the township of Someh Sara in northern Iranian province of Gilan. This ancient city was first excavated three years ago and its name has been inscribed in Iran’s Natioanl Heritage List.
“Historical texts show that this Safavid city was destroyed 400 years ago after a massive earthquake hit the present-day Gilan and was abandoned since then. During our first excavation season, archaeologists were able to unearth the remains of two clay bridges, a number of old buildings, ancient hills, an old public bath, and a watch tower all buried in the 60 hectare area of this historic city,” said Vali Jahani, head of the excavation team at the ancient site of Haft Daqnan.
According to Jahani, the purpose behind the start of the excavations in this historic site was to determine its limits and unearthing some historic relics left from the time the city was an active center. Archaeological evidence show that the city was circular in shape and its residential areas were bound by two rivers connected together through two clay bridges.
Regarding the findings of the year 2003 which was the first time archaeologists examined the area, Jahani said, “We accidentally ran into 17 clay and porcelain dishes dumped in a garbage pit at a depth of only three meters from the ground level. It seems that the residents of this city discarded their clay dishes when they imported chinaware from China to Iran.”
Jahani also said that 40 percent of this city was destroyed due to construction of a road close to it while the remaining 60 percent is buried by forests. In addition, parts of this Safavid city were destroyed as a result of illegal excavations by the smugglers.
Since most of the excavations in Gilan province have taken place in the mountainous area and very few focused on the plains, excavations in the city of Haft Daqnan would answer a lot of questions about the Islamic era in this province.

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