People, Travel

Dam Construction Threatens Historical Sites

Dam Construction Threatens Historical SitesDam Construction Threatens Historical Sites

The filling of Silveh Dam on the Lavin River in West Azarbaijan Province, where rescue archeology has not been carried out thoroughly, will sink artifacts dating back 5,000 years.

“Once water is released into the dam, at least five archeological sites in the reservoir and eight in the canal system will be submerged,” said Alireza Sardari, the director of the Rescue Archeology Office at the Iranian Center for Archeological Research, ILNA reported.

Rescue archeology, sometimes called preventive archeology or salvage archeology, is state-sanctioned, for-profit archaeological survey and excavation carried out in advance of construction or other land development.

Buried deep underground, the artifacts in the region are among the least known relics in Iran. Excavations in the region suggest that the relics belong to the Bronze Age (c. 2500 – c. 800 BC) and the Parthian era (247 BC – 224 AD).

In 2010 the Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Tourism had called for rescue operations, before the dam construction began, however, despite prolonged correspondence and regular meetings between RICHT officials and the West Azarbaijan Regional Water Authority, contractors went ahead with the plan and started building the dam.

“The construction is nearing completion and we haven’t been able to properly conduct a survey,” Sardari said.

Based on a contract between ICAR and the regional water authority in 2014, preliminary studies and rescue operations were carried out which led to the discovery and transfer of several objects and the launch of a makeshift museum in the region.

“Another contract must be signed to allow deeper excavations, but the project managers have so far refrained from it,” he said.

The construction of the dam in Piranshahr is said to be important to the revival of the imperiled Lake Urmia, tucked between the provinces of West Azarbaijan and East Azarbaijan.

Once the dam is complete, between 150 million to 200 million cubic meters of water a year will be directed toward the lake, which currently only contains 5% of the amount of water it held 20 years ago as a result of unsustainable farming, developmental projects, and climate change.