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From the port of Kong to Hong Kong: A new stage in Maritime archaeological studies in Iran

Ramin Adibi-Editor in chief of JAML

August 02 , 2017 | Ramin.adibi2012@Gmail.com | info@farhang-darya.com

In early September 2016, I decided to make an interview with Dr. Hossein Tofighian in relation to the history of Maritime Archaeology in Iran; he also welcomed the request for an interview and the news report of this interview was published on the website of the Marine News on Iranian News Website(Click here ). In this interview, less than three decades related to maritime archaeological studies in Iran were briefly analyzed – from 1991 to 2016. Based on the history of maritime archaeological studies in Iran, history of this branch of archaeology in Iran can be divided into “two stages”, as follows:


The first stage, which can be described as “The Emergence of maritime archaeological studies” in Iran, is as follows:

  • In this regard, archaeologists are at the forefront of the Siraf port (Bandar-e Sīraf; also known as Sīraf, Ţāherī, and Tāhiri). Archaeological studies under the Siraf waters are also forming relatively systematic research, and subsequently the archaeological group “Iranian center for Archaeological research /ICAR” emerges simultaneously. So far, domestic and foreign groups have explored the portable and non-portable remains of the Siraf waters and have conducted several archaeological surveys. Subsequently, archaeological investigations were carried out in different parts of the northern Gulf, including: “the waters around the port of Rig (Bandar Rīg and Bandar-e Rīg), the port of Bushehr (Bandar Būshehr and Bandar-e Būshehr) and Bandar Abbas (Bandar-e ‘Abbās), etc.”; Gradually, there was also conducted archaeology studies in inland waters such as Takht-e Soleymān Lake and band-e-mizan-shushtar (Mizan Dam). In addition, relatively small and systematic studies were carried out on the discovery of the remains of the Great Wall of Gorgan and TAMIŠA WALL by domestic and international groups in the southeastern corner of the Caspian Sea. Throughout this period, no report was published on the discovery of the remains of the body of shipwreck, and most of these studies focused on the cargo of shipwreck like pottery-fragments and non portable remains (mostly the memorial monuments). At the same time, maritime archaeology studies have achieved tangible and significant progress. What was interesting in this period was the accession of Iran to the UNESCO International Conservation on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001) in 2009, and the permanent presence of the representatives of Iran in the annual meetings of member states.

The second stage, which can be described as the period of puberty or “Recognition of maritime archaeological studies in Iran.

  • In this regard, a new chapter was opened in maritime archeology studies in Iran; RICHT, ICAR in collaboration with the UNESCO regional office in Tehran organized three-day workshop on Underwater Archaeology in Bandar-e Gong . At this workshop, maritime archaeologists from the top three countries of the United Kingdom, the United States and Denmark (David Cooper, Matthew Harpster  and Athena Trakadas) took part in a series of topics such as: “What is the Maritime and Archaeological Cultural Heritage, Maritime Cultural Heritage In the Iranian context. Scholars provided theoretical methods for monitoring, protecting, and preserving cultural heritage, reporting, significance assessment, underwater exploration, fieldwork assessment, project design, risk assessment and management plan. Finally, Dr. Hossein Tofighian stated certain points about the Iranian contribution to maritime Archaeological studies. After that, RICHT  in collaboration with  Eurasia Department of German Archaeological Institute (DAI)  held an Underwater of Archaeology Workshop for Maritime archaeology group of Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR) from 1 to 2 March 2017 in Berlin(click here). Workshop lecturers were Dr.Hanz Günter Martin (Former Director of DEGUWA), Dr. Beat Eberschweiler (Director of Archäologie & Denkmalpflege, Kanton Zürich, Switzerland) and Maik Teubner (expert on diving techniques and equipment and underwater archaeology, etc.).  It should be noted that, Dr.Hanz Günter Martin presented about “Theory and Practice underwater archaeology” that contained useful points for Guests. Dr. Beat Eberschweiler presented about ” lake Archaeology and prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps” which was very helpful for Iranian guests. This speech was helpful about archaeological works in Caspian Sea. At the end, Maik Teubner gave speech on necessary tools of underwater archaeology that was extremely Informative and impressive(click here). In addition, during this period, there were conducted surveys on the archaeology of maritime landscape of the province of Gilan(click here). Follow-up of this project witnessed paradigm shift in this type of study in Iran; in other words, the study of the materials Manifestation of the maritime culture were investigated as  maritime cultural Landscape theory. It should be noted that this approach was introduced by Christer Westerdahl  in 1992 in the International Journal of National Archaeology (IJNA). Because his approach, we can get to our holistic understanding about this subject. As he mentioned: ” maritime culture landscape is the whole network of sailing routes, with ports, havens, and harbours along the coast, and it’s related Constructions and other remains of human activity, underwater as well as terrestrial.” He also points out that in addition to the physical remains more easily recognizable to archaeologists, cognitive aspects of the landscape, including the so-called ” mental map” and place names, are also necessary to understand a maritime culture and its relation to the physical landscape(Meide,12-13). According to the recently published news by the Cultural Heritage and Tourism News Agency in relation to the Maritime Landscape Project of Gilan Province, an article about this project has been submitted for the third Asia-Pacific Regional and International Conference on Underwater Cultural Heritage, which is fortunately approved. This matter was adopted with 30 and 31 rules of the Convention for the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage; this implies a convention-centered approach and We want to use of international experts’ ideas to move forward side by side with international community of maritime archaeology and UNESCO convention 2001. In fact, there has been created a dialectical relationship between both. The latest event in the second stage from history of maritime archaeology studies in Iran is the publication of the results of the review of the panel articles “Iran’s Maritime Landscape” at the 3rd Asia-Pacific Regional Conference on Underwater Heritage; the subject matter diversity of the articles is considerable . The geography under study in the articles submitted to the Iranian panel includes the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, as well as a variety of subjects including Maritime Iconography, Maritime Law and Nautical Archaeology. Also, one of the special events here was admission of an article on maritime archaeology Studies in Failaka Island in Kuwait.

In general, the series of aforementioned events is considered as puzzle pieces for maritime archaeological studies in Iran, which forms the Iranian Maritime Culture landscape. The second phase of Iranian maritime Archaeological Studies, which began its journey from the port of Kong, has already stopped in Hong Kong, but future is unpredictable…

© 2016-2017 Electronic-offline monthly of “Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes” RIGHTS RESERVED

How to cite:

Adibi, R. (2017, August 2). From the port of Kong to Hong Kong: A new stage in Maritime archaeological studies in Iran. Retrieved from Electronic-offline monthly of “Archaeology of Maritime Landscapes”: http://farhang-darya.com/EN/2017/08/01/history/

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