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Khuzestan cultural officials call on Parliment & UNESCO to save Chogha Zanbil


News Category: Cultural Disaster

 31 October 2005



(MNA) -- The Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department has sent a letter to the Majlis and the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO asking them to save the 3250-year-old Chogha Zanbil Ziggurat, which is threatened by oil exploration work.

According to a report published by the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency on Sunday, the letter reads, “The Oil Ministry’s Department of Exploration Affairs, led by Engineer Mohaddes, has installed explosive materials only 300 meters from the ancient site of Chogha Zanbil for exploration work, which will cause irreparable damage to this national and globally unique monument. In line with Article 26 of the Iranian civil code, which states that cultural heritage is in the public interest, and Article 135 of the Third Development Plan, which guarantees the protection of cultural heritage, we request you intervene immediately into this matter.”


The exploration work is being conducted by the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC).


Last week, the director of the Haft-Tappeh and Chogha Zanbil Research Base, Mehdi Maddahi, said that they were informed about the operations by chance three days after the NIOC workers began the exploration work.


“We have asked the company officials to study the threats the wells pose to Chogha Zanbil with the cooperation of some experts from the CHTO,” he added.


“NIOC experts believe that the region has no oil resources, however, they insist on carrying out the explorations,” Maddahi said.


The only surviving ziggurat in Iran, Chogha Zanbil is a major remnant of the Elamite civilization, which was constructed in the Elamite city of Dur Untash. It is located near Susa, the ancient capital of Elam, and was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1978.


Built about 1250 BC under the direction of the Elamite ruler Untash-Gal during the Middle Elamite period (c. 1500–c. 1000 BC), the complex was dedicated to Inshushinak (Insusinak), the bull-god of Susa. The square base of the ziggurat, 344 feet (105 meters) on each side, was built principally of brick and cement. It now stands 80 feet (24 meters) high, less than half of its estimated original height.