Archeologists Seek Elamite Treasures in Iran
ART & CULTURE DESK
TEHRAN - The University of Sydney has initiated Australia's largest-ever act of cultural cooperation with Iran in the hope of unearthing archaeological treasures of the ancient Elamite civilization in the Near East.
"Unlimited possibilities" lie ahead, according to professor Dan Potts, chair of Sydney's Department of Archaeology, who is posed to sign an agreement which would see the excavation of rich new archaeological sites in what is now Western Iran.
The area and Elamite people are referred to in Mesopotamian texts but are yet to be researched in depth.
Under a proposed five-year collaborative agreement between the university and the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (CHO), professor Potts will work together with Iranian and Sydney investigators in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, museum studies and conservation.
"We plan to undertake a range of analytical work on metals, ceramics, starch residues and plant remains and to employ the latest techniques of underwater archaeology," professor Potts said.
"Sydney students and researchers, as well as Iranian staff and students will publish together and facilitate visits to each other's countries.
"We will encourage Iranian students to apply to do post-graduate research degrees and professional degrees in Sydney, and we will undertake excavations and archaeological surveys together".
Sydney activity will be supported by an Australian Research Council grant of $909,00.00 over five years.
"The possibilities are unlimited for Sydney scholars and students," said professor Potts who recently visited Tehran to meet colleagues and receive an award from the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for his 1999 book, "The Archaeological of Elam", published by Cambridge University Press.
Professor Potts worked in Iran as a student at Harvard before the Islamic Revolution of 1979. He is well known to Iranian scholars at the Tehran University and to the Iran's National Museum. His research on the book has raised many questions about Elamite history and archaeology. "It is an extremely fertile field to pursue," he said.
"I plan to investigate Elam at its height, between 2000 BC and 1000 BC. I had identified a number of potentially important religious, political, and trade sites, just from library research, in SW Iran, Khuzestan Province, which were Elamite of this period never excavated.
"This February I visited some very large sites near Shushtar (Tepe Surkehgan, Deh-e Now) and Ram Hormoz (Tal-i Ghazir, Tul-i Zanin), any one of which would be excellent, having been occupied in the second millenium and judging by their size having been important centers.
"We also hope to excavate Elam's main port, ancient Liyan modern Bushire, on the Persian Gulf," professor Potts said. "The Iranian are very pro Australian, and they are eager to collaborate. I foresee great opportunities for Australian scholars and students in coming years. The Five-year ARC grant is obviously a fantastic platform from which to launch this, but I hope that if all goes well this will lead to a much longer term involvement. Certainly this would be the biggest project of cultural cooperation ever between Australia and Iran."