Team Crosses Deserts of Eastern Iran


Swedish/Iranian Team Crosses Deserts of Eastern Iran In Explorer Sven Hedin’s Footsteps

National Geographic Society-funded expedition documents changes in Iran over past 100 years

STOCKHOLM (July 23, 2013)—A team of five Swedes and two Iranians, led by journalist and adventurer Lars Larsson, have returned to Sweden after successfully following explorer Sven Hedin’s famed 1906 journey through what is present-day Iran, visiting the same places Hedin photographed more than 100 years ago. The expedition, funded by the National Geographic Society Global Exploration Fund, aims to document the changes that have occurred in Iran over the past century.
Using Hedin’s historical maps and two all-terrain vehicles, the group followed his route 2,000 kilometers, from Tehran east to the border with Pakistan. Along the way, they crossed Iran’s central salt desert Dasht-e Kavir and ascended the 5,671-meter-high Mount Damāvand, Asia’s highest volcano and the tallest mountain in the Middle East, which Hedin climbed in 1891.
The expedition’s main objective was to follow up on Hedin’s geographic and ethnographic observations from his expedition through the deserts of Eastern Persia in 1906. Hedin, said to be Sweden’s equivalent of Marco Polo, is the country’s greatest explorer. He devoted his life to filling in the ”white spots” on the map of Central Asia. His extensive photographic archive of 10,000 glass plates is stored at the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, and his 107-year-old photographs from Iran have important historical value.
“By seeking out his original camera positions and taking new photographs that exactly match the old ones, we have been able to visually document how the landscape and society have changed over a century,” said expedition leader Larsson.
Efforts to preserve Hedin’s images through digitization have been initiated by the Sven Hedin Foundation at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, and the work will continue for two more years.
“Lars Larsson and his team have completed an amazing expedition and come back with very interesting and striking material,” said Joakim Mörnefält, executive director of National Geographic Global Exploration Fund in Northern Europe, based in Stockholm. The results of the expedition will be published in the Nordic editions of National Geographic magazine.

The National Geographic Global Exploration Fund in Northern Europe, supported by the Swedish Postcode Lottery, funds scientists and explorers from the Northern European region who are advancing research and exploring solutions that benefit our planet. For more information, visit

For more information about the Sven Hedin Project, visit
High-resolution images can be downloaded from

The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Its mission is to inspire people to care about the planet. Founded in 1888, the member-supported Society offers a community for members to get closer to explorers, connect with other members and help make a difference. The Society reaches more than 450 million people worldwide each month through National Geographic and other magazines, National Geographic Channel, television documentaries, music, radio, films, books, DVDs, maps, exhibitions, live events, school publishing programs, interactive media and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 10,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit


Lars Larsson
The Sven Hedin Project
+46 (0)705 97 33 90

Kelsey Flora
National Geographic Society
+1 (202) 828-8023

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