An Iranian archaeologist named Dr. Mohammed Naserifard has discovered what he believes to be the oldest rock drawings ever known to his field. And he claims that American sanctions are coming between him and the research he needs to do to verify the claim.
Naserifard found the drawings in a cluster of rocks outside of Khomeyn, a town in western Iran. The drawings have only been seen by a handful of people, including Naserifard. He believes that they may be tens of thousands of years old, making them a find of extreme historical significance and scientific interest.
But according to Naserifard, the US government has placed unfair sanctions on Iranian researchers, barring his way to get the funding and scientific tools he needs to pursue his findings.
Dr. Naserifard says he has discovered over fifty thousand paintings and engravings on his archaeological hunts across the region. And his claims have been corroborated by foreign researchers as well. A Dutch expedition in 2008 to the area where Naserifard does most of his hunting found a group of drawings that date to around 40,000 years ago.
“I was so excited, finding these works was like finding treasure,” said Naserifard in an interview with AFP. “But sanctions have deprived us of the technology. We hope we can soon bring this technology to Iran and gain more accurate and scientific information on these engravings.”
If the art is as old as he believes, it would be more evidence to support the theory, steadily growing in credibility, that humans had an established artistic tradition before they ventured out of the Middle East.
The main obstacle to proper research is Iranian scientists’ inability to use uranium analysis tools, due to fears that they would be used to further the country’s nuclear enrichment program. Uranium analysis is a newer, more accurate kind of carbon dating that would yield a definitive verdict on the drawings’ age.
Dr. Naserifard has plans to continue his research, hopefully with the aid of archaeological institutions from foreign countries. If his findings were verified, it would be a very important contribution to our body of historical knowledge of our very earliest civilizations.
But as it stands now, there is no guarantee that Irianian scientists will be given access to uranium tools. Hopefully there is some way to establish credibility without them, or a special dispensation can be made by the US government. It would be an important piece of history.