Archaeologists dig Jiroft for more inscriptions

November 7, 2007

TEHRAN -- A team of archaeologists led by Yusef Majidzadeh returned to Jiroft yesterday in order to renew digs of the 5000-year-old site in the hope of finding further artifacts bearing inscriptions.

The team was accompanied for this excavation season by several French and Italian archaeologists along with a number of Iranian students.
During the past five phases of excavation Majidzadeh’s previous team had discovered four brick inscriptions which they unearthed in one of the present-day villager’s homes. Majidzadeh hopes to find another collection of brick inscriptions at the site.
Located next to the Halil-Rud River in the southern Iranian province of Kerman, Jiroft came into the spotlight nearly six years ago when reports surfaced of extensive illegal excavations being carried out by local people who went on to plunder priceless historical items.
Since 2002, Professor Majidzadeh has conducted five excavation seasons leading to the discovery of a ziggurat made of more than four million mud bricks dating back to circa 2200 BC.
Many ancient ruins and interesting artifacts have been retrieved by archaeologists from the ancient site of Jiroft, which is known as the “archeologists lost heaven”.
After numerous unique discoveries had been made in the region, Majidzadeh declared Jiroft to be the cradle of art. Many scholars questioned this theory due to the fact that no writings had been discovered at the site, but shortly afterwards his team discovered inscriptions at the Konar-Sandal Ziggurat, which caused experts to reconsider their views on Jiroft.
The Konar-Sandal inscriptions are older than the Inshushinak inscription, thus it seems that the recently discovered inscriptions link the Proto Elamite script (first appeared circa 2900 BC in Susa) with the Old Elamite scripts (used between about 2250 and 2220 BC).
Many Iranian and foreign experts consider the Jiroft findings to be evidence of the former existence of a civilization as great as that of Sumer or ancient Mesopotamia. Majidzadeh believes that Jiroft is the ancient city of Aratta, which was described in a Sumerian clay inscription as an impressive civilization. In December 2007, he suggested that archaeologists use the term Proto-Iranian instead of Proto-Elamite for the pre-cuneiform script found at several sites.
He argued that the inscriptions recently discovered at Konar-Sandal and at some other ancient sites in Iran are older than the oldest inscriptions, such as the Inshushinak, found at Elamite sites