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Rémy Boucharlat: Pasargadae Would not be Endangered by the future lake in the Tang-i Bolaghi


29 December 2004




Dear colleagues and friends, 


Coming back from Pasargadae and Persepolis, I am astonished by the news you have recently distributed through the Net. One of them, concerning Pasargadae site threatened by the filling of the Sivand dam came out in November. 


Before leaving to Iran, I read it in the =46rench magazine Archeologia and I was able to send a statement. From the last 'information', the Darius throne, I can see this is a reprint of an Iranian newspaper, Tehran Times, I read it in the plane on Dec. 21. 


I and many others colleagues are really grateful for your efforts for dispatching news about Iranian archaeology, but definitely the newspapers are not reliable: the information is usually collected by the Heritage Org. and -sometimes- put on their Website CHN. From it, journalists take what they want and publish many stupidities. 


I have a good example with the interview I gave about the series of dams and weirs in the Morghab (Pasargadae) plain which we re-surveyed in December. It became a series of recently discovered Achaemenid dams. 


A few words about some of these topics: 

1) Pasargadae The site itself, is not endangered by the future lake in the Tang-i Bulaghi. The dam is about 17 km downstream and the uppermost part of the filling will be ca. 5 km far from the Cyrus tomb which is the southern end of the site. However one cannot exclude the mass of water to bring more humidity in that region. Only the specialists can answer such a question. By the way, in the Technical Office of Pasargadae some people are working on the stone and their problems (plants, diseases, etc.). 

2) Tang-i Bulaghi/Sivand Dam Project True, many "sites" located in the gorge and in the valley (together ca 15km long) will be flooded in the next few years. The building of the dam started in 1992, then was stopped for many years and reactivated last year. I remember our caveat in our yearly reports since 2001. No danger, I was told=8A 


These ca 130 "sites" actually are for many of them, the majority in my opinion, spots where some sherds or sherd concentrations have been noted by us, then by two Iranian archaeologists committed to survey the valley, respectively last Spring and last Summer. I doubt all of these "spots" are of primary interest. For the rest, we, archaeologists, have to work quickly in order to estimate the potential and the necessary time to excavate. In this aim, the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (Dir. Dr. M. Azarnoush) and the Parsa-Pasargadae Research Center (Dir. Mr. Ing. Talebian, Cultural and Scientific Advisor, Dr. Shahbazi) have recently launched a Rescue Project. I am quite aware of that since I was urgently requested to come last July and finally was able to go to Iran in late August to help them to prepare an "international call". To my direct knowledge three teams have already agreed (French, Italian, Polish) and three others are reported to do it (British, German, Japanese). 


Sorts of remains: apart from the sherds concentrations, which may or may not correspond to an actual archaeological site, there are settlements (some might be very recent, I think), few tepes, at least four metallurgical (iron) sites, of undetermined period in my opinion, cairn burials (probably Parthian-Sasanian), subterranean graves organized in graveyards, some are assumed to be Sasanian (??), and of course the 'Royal Road' which corresponds actually to TWO canals, one on each side of the Pulvar river, partly rock-cut (see Stronach, Pasargadae, 1978) and partly built with stones like a road and following the contour levels. The width of some rock-cut parts are less than 1m, sometimes half a meter! Three weeks ago we have just finished the survey, layout and elevation measurements, of these two very impressive structures. For sure most parts (downstream) of these canals will be flooded. 


Chronology: apart from one 4th mill. site(?) marked by Bakun-type painted pottery within a pre-modern/modern settlement, the others are all dated by our Iranian colleagues from the Achaemenid period onwards. I must say I am unable to be so precise, the Achaemenid and Pre-Islamic pottery assemblages are so badly known in Fars (see W. Sumner PhD and his paper in AJA 1986). Nevertheless, the pre- and post Bakun prehistoric periods are not evidenced. The Achaemenid/post Achaemenid period is certain: two pieces of column bases have been recovered from an Islamic graveyard. The metallurgical activities, whatever is the date, are certainly of great interest for archaeometallurgists. 


This is the present situation and the first team plans to start excavations in next February, two others in April. I think it would be good to contact the Center for arch. Research in Tehran to have more official and perhaps more accurate information (


3) Dams. In the frame of our study of the Pasargadae plain, we start to revisit the series of dams already mentioned by W. Kleiss (see his series of papers in AMI from 1986 through 1992-93). Kleiss inclined to date most of them (usually made of earth) from the Achaemenid period. For us, this is possible only when there are some clues such as canals built of finely dressed stones. For the moment one or maybe two of them have such canals preserved. For the rest, we said from the Achaemenid period or later (including Medieval one). So, neither we discovered them nor they are for sure of Achaemenid date. 


Don't hesitate to ask questions. I'll do my best to inform you. Meanwhile my best wishes for the New Year.



Remy Boucharlat



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Extracted From/Source: Cultural Heritage News Agency (CHN) Mehr News  Iran Daily

Please note the above-news is NOT a "copy & paste" version from the mentioned-source. The news/article above has been modified with the following interventions by CAIS: Spelling corrections; -Rectification and correction of the historical facts and data; - Providing additional historical information within the text; -Removing any unnecessary, irrelevant & repetitive information.

     All these measures have been taken in order to ensure that the published news provided by CAIS is coherent, transparent, accurate and suitable for academics and cultural enthusiasts who visit the CAIS website.



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