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Hotel Construction is Destroying Ancient Zoroastrian Cemetery in Southern Iran




12 September 2005


A Zoroastrian cemetery at the Shoghab ancient site in Iran’s southern city of Bushehr is being threatened by construction of a five star hotel nearby, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported on Monday.

“In a letter sent to the Bushehr Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, we have warned the department that every act of interference or ownership is illegal at this site, and the establishment of tourism facilities must be implemented by the expert committee of the Archaeology Department of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization,” CHTO Archaeology Department Director Jalil Golshan told CHN.


The hotel is being constructed by the private sector.


Registered on the National Heritage List in 1998, the Shoghab site is located three kilometers south of Bushehr and includes ruins from the Parthian and Sassanid eras. The site has the only Zoroastrian cemetery in the country, which sheds light on the style of Zoroastrian burials during ancient times.  


The stone graves of the cemetery contain no remains of bodies because burials were not common among Zoroastrians. But a number of earthenware ossuaries have been discovered at the site. The ancient Zoroastrians believed that the earth was pure, so they did not bury the dead in order to prevent the pollution of the earth. Instead, they placed the dead in stone graves or towers of silence. After the bodies decomposed over time, the remains were kept in earthenware ossuaries.  




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