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Prehistoric Village of Maymand Wins UNESCO’s Melina Mercouri Prize


03 June 2005


The ancient Iranian village of Maymand has won the 2005 UNESCO-Greece Melina Mercouri International Prize, the ambassador and permanent delegate of the Islamic Republic of Iran to UNESCO announced yesterday.

“A team of international experts selected Maymand from among the numerous villages nominated from all over the world,” Ahmad Jalali added.


The choice of Maymand shows that when Iranians respect their monuments through restoration and protection, the world also recognizes the work, he noted.


The ancient village of Maymand is located in Kerman Province in southern Iran and has 132 residents who have doggedly preserved their traditions. After the recent discovery of 903 Middle Persian words from the Sassanid era in the language of Maymand, linguists have concluded that the language has changed little over the past 2000 years, mainly due to the isolation of the hamlet.


Experts believe that the UNESCO award will put Maymand in the global spotlight.


The selection will help introduce the village to the world, said Shirin Rohani, the director of the department responsible for providing documents for Iranian cultural items and monuments of Iran ’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO).


“This choice is a sign of Iranian experts’ proficiency in restoration of monuments and cultural sites,” noted Mohammad Beheshti, the director of the CHTO Research Center .


The prize, which includes $20,000 in cash, will be awarded at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on September 7.


The purpose of the Melina Mercouri International Prize is to reward outstanding examples of action to safeguard and enhance the world’s major cultural landscapes.


It is named after Melina Mercouri, a pioneer in the field of integrated conservation and sustainable development, a talented actress, and a former minister of culture of Greece .


The prize was awarded for the first time on November 2, 1999 and since then it is presented every two years in September by the director-general of UNESCO.


The prize may be awarded either to an individual or to a group, working in a personal capacity or as staff member(s) of a private or public institution chosen by the director-general of UNESCO on the recommendation of an international jury.  




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