Iran News ...


Misplaced Sentiments

By Kam Zarrabi, San Diego

"Jiroft a Key Business Hub 5000 Years Ago"
"Iranian Oldest Pottery Dates Back to 10,000 Years"

These headlines were the titles of two recent articles taken from Iran Cultural Heritage News Agency website, describing some details of archaeological finds in various provinces of Iran.

Anybody interested in the field of archeology and ancient history must admire the efforts by this organization to bring the latest news of such findings to the attention of the enthusiasts through an artfully created website.

Not only do these findings contribute to a better understanding of the cultural histories of the peoples of the region by piecing together a more coherent picture, they reflect the effort and dedication of archaeologists in Iran today.

It is with my deepest personal appreciation as a devoted enthusiast that I am offering some suggestions that I believe should be regarded as constructive criticism.

When the thirty-five thousand year old bones were discovered in the Neander Valley in Germany, those "Neanderthals" were not considered as the earliest Germans; there was no Germany in existence 35,000 years ago.

Similarly, the 5,000 year-old hub in Jiroft dates back at least 1,000 years before the Aryan tribes who later became the Medes and the Persians, arrived at the scene as they migrated southward from the southern plain of the Aral Sea. The people who created and used those trade routes were not Iranian or Persian, racially, ethnically or linguistically. It is, therefore, technically incorrect to refer to this trade hub as a Persian crossroads, etc.

In the article about the 10,000 years old pottery, the archaeologist writes, "Iranians were very skillful in making designed earthenware......" A technically correct statement would have said, "The artisans who created such earthenware were very skillful." Again, there was no Iran or an Iranian nation at that time for these artisans to have been Iranians.

To illustrate the fallacy of such seemingly harmless nationalistic or patriotic sentiments, let us look back at the period before World War I, when the Ottoman Turkish Empire covered all of Mesopotamia. A zealous Turkish archaeologist could have referred to Imam Hussein, Imam Ali, Nebuchadnezzar and Ashurbanipal as old or ancient Turks. The Sassanian capital, Ctesiphon, would have been called a 1,500 year-old Turkish monument. How much scientific or technical sense does that make?

There is nothing wrong with taking pride in ones national or cultural heritage; just look at those tears of pride and passion in the Olympic athletes' eyes as they listen to their national anthems. Next to ones own flesh and blood, it is the homeland for which one would sacrifice ones own life; that is only instinctive and natural, and not a point of criticism. Nonetheless, referring to 10,000 years old pottery as Iranian art makes as much technical sense as calling Abu Ali Sina an Arab scientist and philosopher.

... Payvand News - 9/17/04 ... --

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