Jiroft, a lost ancient civilization
August 9, 2007 3:45 PM   Subscribe

What was Jiroft? An ancient civilization in what is now southern Iran that was lost to history until very recently. Many beautiful artifacts have been dug up. It is claimed that writing originated with the Jiroft civilization and that this is the legendary kingdom of Aratta, subject of one of the world's oldest works of literature, Enmerkar and the lord of Aratta. There is dispute over both. Either way, it certainly was a commercial hub as early as 3000 B.C. The site has been extensively plundered in recent years, but is so rich in artifacts that excavations can go on for decades.
posted by Kattullus (17 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
The artifacts are indeed very beautiful.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:50 PM on August 9, 2007


Thank you for bringing this wider attention.

I enjoyed the links!
posted by wires at 4:12 PM on August 9, 2007


Fascinating stuff, thank you. Few things capture my imagination like the cradle of civilization.
posted by lekvar at 4:38 PM on August 9, 2007


Very cool, thank you!
posted by headspace at 4:54 PM on August 9, 2007


I think we should invade. Coalition of the Willing style.

ps: great links.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:55 PM on August 9, 2007


“Oh sister mine, make Aratta, for Uruk’s sake, skillfully work gold and silver for me! (Make them cut for me) translucent lapis lazuli in blocks, (Make them prepare for me) electrum and translucent lapis!”

*sigh* - what is wrong with world leaders these days?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:17 PM on August 9, 2007


Last May, in a gesture of goodwill, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago returned to Tehran 300 ancient Persian clay tablets that had been unearthed in the 1930’s. It was the first batch of several thousand cuneiform tablets that will be repatriated after the Institute finishes photographing them for a digital inventory.

* wipes tear from eye *
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:27 PM on August 9, 2007


There have been quite a number of dawn-of-civilization cultures and sites found in the mideast to Indo-Asian region lately. It no longer appears to be a case of the Tigris-Euphrates and Indus valley loci all by themselves and in isolation.
posted by jfuller at 6:04 PM on August 9, 2007


Last May, in a gesture of goodwill, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago returned to Tehran 300 ancient Persian clay tablets that had been unearthed in the 1930’s. It was the first batch of several thousand cuneiform tablets that will be repatriated after the Institute finishes photographing them for a digital inventory.
If we're really lucky, they might get them in place in some sort of vulnerable exhibition space just in time for the US to slam some tomahawk missiles into the museum.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:56 PM on August 9, 2007


Last May, in a gesture of goodwill, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago returned to Tehran 300 ancient Persian clay tablets that had been unearthed in the 1930’s.

I read an interesting theory (on MeFi maybe?) that if THE EVIL WEST hadn't stolen these antiquities there would be hardly anything left.

The Eglin Marbles and associated plundering of the site by locals were cited as an example.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:09 PM on August 9, 2007


uncanny hengeman: it's probably not quite a simple as that.

The people doing the plundering & graverobbing etc throughout history have almost always been locals - in this case, impoverished farmers who were apparently selling 3,000 year old vases for a couple of sacks of flour. The collectors might be from anywhere. If artifacts fall into the hands of museums, then they are likely to be preserved or even restored, which is a plus. On the other hand, if they fall into the hands of private collectors (western or otherwise) then not only are they lost to historians & the general public, but they are more likely to be neglected, damaged or destroyed.

Even if the artifact itself is preserved, it becomes difficult or impossible to place it into context if its precise location, surrounding finds etc are not known - the article linked told of a possible ancient king's tomb that was found with heaps of artifacts, but because they were all shunted off to the four corners of the world via the black art market, we will probably *never* know the truth about this find. If that sort of behaviour is regarded as saving our cultural heritage, I think we have sunk pretty damn low.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:36 PM on August 9, 2007


Very thorough and interesting links, thanks!
posted by amyms at 7:37 PM on August 9, 2007


Wow, awesome. Thanks, Kattullus.
posted by homunculus at 7:43 PM on August 9, 2007


Interesting moral dilemma, UbuRoivas. Wot?

I'm leaning slightly towards the "quit ya bloody whining ya bloody antiquities plundering ignoramuses!!!" side of things.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:34 PM on August 9, 2007


I'm leaning more to the "I want some of that free trade action, and I'll even thrown in a packet of biscuits on top of the two sacks of flour!" side of things.

Anything else is just sour grapes.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:55 PM on August 9, 2007


If artifacts fall into the hands of museums, then they are likely to be preserved or even restored, which is a plus.
Interestingly, part of the British Museum’s argument on this subject is the political and civic instability of many of the places their artifacts are from, and the relative stability of London; that ignores, though, that for forty years and more the artifacts stored in London were in real danger of being vapourised in nuclear war, something unlikely to have happened in Sicily or Crete or eastern Turkey.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 8:13 AM on August 10, 2007


Looting fear as Iraqi state library seized
posted by homunculus at 1:49 PM on August 10, 2007


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