Language: English with trilingual abstract in English, German, and Farsi
The 3rd edition of the Iran Cave Directory is based on volume 10 and volume 37 of this publication series, which were released in the years 2003 and 2009 and described more than 850 cave locations. This edition increases the number of described caves to over 2,000. As a result, the number of caves by far exceeds all previously compiled Iranian cave lists, apparently even those available in Iran itself.
Although due to the political circumstances the possibilities for foreigners to conduct karst research in Iran are somewhat limited a number of explorative projects have taken place since 2009. In 2011 the Iranian Cavers and Speleologists Association (ICSA) was founded, which currently has more than 100 members from all over Iran.
A significant factor in the progress made regarding the number of caves presented below is due to the amazing cave registry of Shary Ghazy. This invaluable resource along with a significant amount of information provided by Mr. Davoud Mohammadifar, a survey of Farsi websites, and access to publications of an older date, all of which were made available for this edition. The likelyhood of additional information being available in the future will no doubt lead to updated editions of the Iran Cave Directory.
In the course of the author's own speleological investigations in Iran it was realised that a significant number of Iranian publications exist that deal with speleology in general and cave locations in detail. What they all have in common is that they are written in Farsi, a language unique in writing style and spoken in Iran and some of the neighbouring countries exclusively. It is regarded to be a useful contribution to speleology to make all this information on the state of cave research in Iran known to international circles. The following list should encourage speleologists and karstologists to visit Iran and to raise the level of knowledge on Iranian caves. Iran has special entry regulations. It is not possible for individuals to enter the country without an official invitation and a formally granted visa permission. Hence, it is strongly recommended to officially apply to an official institution (like a university) for a joint project that implies state of the art surveying work, the delivery of a quality report for the Iranian project partners and an adequate respect for the culture of the host country. On this basis caving in Iran will certainly be an impressive experience and of sustainable benefit for all participants.