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Jiroft: A Lost Kingdom of …? 
.... Is this an ancient game board missing its instructions as Dr. Madzjizadeh suggests? Whether it is or not, the 2001 discovery of Jiroft civilization has become a big game between looters and archaeologists. The scholarly world lost at the beginning – between 2000 to 100,000 Jiroft objects left Iran illegally … 

Jiroft, a small city in the southeastern province of Iran, Kerman, has become a center of archaeological interest after the 2001 flash flood revealed one of the “forgotten and lost” civilizations of the ancient world. As the story goes, “an old object…was floating on the surface of water” and was retrieved by a peasant from a nearby village.

Next day, impoverished by years of drought villagers swarmed along the banks of the Halil River in search of 5000 years old antiquities. They carefully divided the area into six square meters lots so each family would have a fair chance to strike it rich. And they did. For the next three years archaeologists could only watch hopelessly thousands of looters digging up objects of incomparable beauty of the civilization which once must have been equal to Mesopotamia and Egypt.

Wherever are looters, there are also dealers who smuggle ancient objects out of the country. Thousands of objects, mainly carved and inlaid steatite vases, appeared in Europe and elsewhere with a generic description of the “Middle Eastern” or “Kerman” vases. The demand for these vases has been so high that a new industry has been created: production of fake Jiroft-vases easily sold to whomever wants to have a piece of ancient history. 

Finally, under the leadership of Dr. Yousef Madjidzadeh, a team of international archaeologists began excavations in 2003. While his discoveries has not produced such spectacular vases and statuettes as those delivered by villagers, he was able to estimate that over 700 sites is possibly located in the area of about 400 square km. Focusing on two hills of Konar Sandal, he has been able to identify a construction which he classifies as a ziqqurat (a temple-tower of Mesopotamian origin) and a citadel, both dated by him to the 3rd millennium B.C. In addition, six large cemeteries, a large industrial center near Anbaraba, and numerous domestic structures have been discovered in the surveyed area.
Among artifacts 25 seals were discovered and the first undisputable evidence of writing: a clay brick with an Elamitic inscription. 

This presentation introduces an audience to Jiroft, its findings, and its importance with regard to other well-researched cradles of civilizations of the same time period such as Sumer, Egypt, Elam and Indus Valley. Who were these people? What mythical scenes do these carvings represent? What language did they speak? Whether this is a lost kingdom of Aratta as Dr. Madzjizadeh believes or not, Jiroft is definitely the Lost Paradise for archaeologists and anyone who has a passion for ancient history. 

The area of Jiroft cemeteries looks like a big piece of Swiss cheese: full of illegally “excavated” holes with in-between tunnels to escape in case a lonely guard might pass by. It is estimated that within 9 months since the first object was discovered in 2001 10,000 holes were dug in this looting Eldorado. 

Is Konar Sandal A a ziggurat (a temple-tower commonly believed to be of the Sumerian origin)? Dr. Madzjizadeh thinks so dating this structure to ca. 2300 B.C. 

While opinions are divided among scholars whether the ziggurat like structure in Jiroft is a true ziggurat with such an early dating, others are getting busy to proclaim the Jiroft civilization to be number one in the whole world. Just see this picture comparing measurements of the Great Pyramid of Cheops (Khufu) to the Jiroft structure. At this moment, this seems to be rather a wishful thinking.

A fragment of a clay brick with an Elamitic writing has been discovered during 2005 expedition. This is the only undisputable example of writing discovered in Jiroft as of today. Dr. Madzjizadeh reported a clay impression with possible writing previously but this one was not available for verification. There is at least one more inscription in an unknown script associated with a Jiroft statuette but the artifact itself might be a forgery. 

.... Thousands of pottery pieces have been smashed by local villagers searching for much more attractive and profitable steatite objects. This and other vases have been recovered by archaeologists.

These beautiful steatite vases represent amazing world of ancient myths, realities, and dreams. Many of them were inlaid with precious and semi-precious stones emphasizing the importance and fascination with both the sacred and the profane.

.... Shahname (“The Book of Kings”) written by Ferdausi in ca. 1000, refers to many demons who were presented as people with different religious beliefs than Zoroastrians.  They refused to accept changes brought by a new civilization. They symbolized violence but also simplicity. Is it possible that thousands of years before Ferdausi, the civilized people of Jiroft considered others around them to be demons too?

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