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New Dams Threaten Iranian National Heritage


22 December 2004

Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav


At least five dams in advanced stages of construction and as many as 80 others in the planning stage threaten important pre-Islamic Iranian archaeological sites.

The Art Newspaper said Tuesday among sites threatened are those of the ancient city of Izeh and the first Achaemenid capital, the Pasargadae.

The publication said that the Iran Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHTO) has made desperate attempts to mount salvage operations at the major sites but has been obstructed by the Islamic regime's Energy Ministry. With little time to survey the sites, it is possible that the true extent of what will be submerged by reservoirs behind the dams will ever be known, it was reported.

An ICHTO salvage team was recently given a single month to survey the Karun River valley near Izeh and found that 18 sites from the Epipaleolithic period (20,000 to 10,000 B.C.), including 13 caves and rock shelters that served as cradles of human civilization, are threatened by inundation. The Pasargadae site, residence of the Father of Iranian Nation, Cyrus the Great (r. 559-529 B.C.), will be buried under mud when the Polvar River's Sivand Dam is completed next March.

Faramarz Khoshab, president of Izeh's Cultural Heritage Association, was quoted as saying foreign aid for the survey project had failed to materialize and looting is already a problem at many of the sites.





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