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Saturday, July 30, 2005


Comments by Javier Alvarez-Mon, M.A., Cand. Phil, Department of Near Eastern Studies,University of California

Comments about question: "What's your idea about development of the Iranian archaeology?"

"In my opinion an answer to this question needs to be put in the context of 25 years of extraordinary happenings. The good news is that despite the dramatic effects of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the ensuing Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), and a number of regional political upheavals including two more recent Gulf Wars (1990-1991; 2003-2005), there is a renewed public interest in the study and preservation of ancient Iranian (and Near Eastern) heritage. This said, the field has greatly suffered and it is only in the past few years that a number of scholars are effectively working to counteract more than twenty-five years of decreasing academic interest and expertise in this important region of the world. For these reasons, articulating an appropriate topic acceptable to a wide popular audience could be challenging. I would conceptualize such an enterprise by (1) giving a sense of the importance to Iran as one of the most promising areas for archeological and anthropological research in the world today; and giving some sense of the struggles the country of Iran and the field of Iranian archaeology (including the adaptations of many of the scholars) have undergone in the past 25 years. (2) I would present an overview of recent outstanding discoveries (such as Jiroft, Arjan, and new archaeological excavations), comment on important local and international projects and exhibits by Iranian nationals (such as the Tchogha Zanbil project, the European exhibit of 7000 years of Persian Art, or the forthcoming 2005 exhibit of Achaemenid world at the British Museum), and unique projects by foreign scholars (such as the 2003 creation of an Elamite digital catalogue for the National Museum of Iran). I then (3) would present an overview of the new material concentrating on how this material introduces changes in our understanding of the history of the ancient Near East. And finally, (4) would emphasize the renaissance of Iranian studies, with the ultimate hope that governments come to an understanding of the importance of keeping our common cultural heritage outside of politics. I would obviously include lots of good-quality photographs of representative artifacts and the greatest sites of Iran (Susa, Haft Tappeh, Tchoga Zanbil, Izeh/Malamir, Kurangun, Persepolis, Pasargadae, etc).Well, there you have my opinion in a nut shell. I am aware that this may sound too general but the alternative requires concentration in a particular time period or civilization and that, in my opinion, would demand a greater control of the evidence, in addition to access to the new material. I also think that given the state of Iran’s position in the world today, the general public have heard so little about Iran outside of political rhetoric, it seems that most readers of Archeology would welcome an update on Iranian archaeology since the revolution, and in light of the news regarding the demise of historical and cultural sites and artifacts from neighboring Iraq because of the most recent war there" (Javier Alvarez, Mon, 25 Jul 2005).

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