Science: Search at Xabis

In the shadow of Iran's Zagros Mountains stands a forbidding wasteland known as Dasht-i-Lut (Great Sand Desert). There, for thousands of years, howling sandstorms have been shifting the dunes and wearing the rocks into fantastical shapes. Convinced that no civilization could have risen and thrived under these inhospitable conditions, archaeologists long bypassed the area.

As a result of several dramatic discoveries in recent years, they are now flocking to the scorched region. In 1967, during some routine surveying near the town of Shahdad at the edge of the great desert, scientists from Teheran...

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