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Elamite Bas-reliefs of Izeh in Real Jeopardy


07 December 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- Experts of Ayapir (ayāpīr) Cultural Heritage Research Centre have requested urgent budget support to finance restoration of bas-reliefs and inscriptions of the historic sites of Eshkaft-e Salman and Kul-Farah, currently in a critical condition.


The two sites are located in the city of Izeh in the Iranian southwestern province of Khuzestan and feature many historic evidence mostly belonging to the Elamite civilization (3400-550 BCE).


Eshkaft-e Salman (eškāft-e salmān - Salman’s Cave), otherwise known as Tarisha (tarišā) Temple, is home to the largest neo-Elamite inscription ever found in Iran. The inscription was spoiled recently by unidentified persons who poured paint on its bas-reliefs.


Following this incident, the Association of Cultural Heritage Supporters of Izeh asked the Iranian cultural heritage authorities to increase the number of their security guards in the area. Moreover, experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Izeh asked for budget to hire specialists to remove the paint from this ancient inscription. However, the budget has not yet been provided despite frequent warnings by cultural heritage experts.


This is while according to Mehdi Faraji, director of the archaeology departments of Ayapir Research Centre, the conditions of other bas-reliefs of Izeh’s historic sites are no better than the inscription of Eshkaft-e Salman, although he admits that the assault on the Elamite inscription is a disaster. He also said that salvation of the region’s historic bas-reliefs requires a “firm national will.”


An equivalent of 53,000 Euro had previously been allocated to the research projects of Ayapir Cultural Heritage Centre, but never released. Faraji emphasized that as soon as the due payment is received, the Centre will take up the responsibility of restoring Eshkaft-e Salman’s bas-reliefs.


According to Faraji, Several official requests have so far been made through formal correspondence to Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and its provincial department in Khuzestan by Ja’far Mehrkian, director of Ayapir Research Center, warning about the dire consequences of the ignorance toward the region’s bas-reliefs.


On the other hand, in a letter to director of Khuzestan’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, director of ICHTO’s Department of Conservation and Renovation of Historic Sites, Jalil Golshan, has blamed lack of funding for insecurity in the historic sites of Izeh and requested the Department to immediately provide the necessary budget for restorations to begin.


“Despite all the correspondences made, no budget has yet been provided to protect and restore Izeh’s ancient bas-reliefs,” added Faraji.


The ancient sites of Izeh have the dubious distinction of suffering the most damage and the most illegal excavations and smuggling of all Iran’s historical sites. In addition, many construction projects, such as constructions of dams and a hotel in the region, are also threatening Izeh’s ancient sites.


Originally called Ayapir, Izeh is known for its large number of bas-reliefs as the Town of Rocks. It is situated at the middle of the Zagros mountain ranges and has the biggest collection of archaeological sites and monuments.


The historic site of Eshkaft-e Salman contains four bas-reliefs carved on the mountain, two of which are inside a nearby cave. One of the bas-reliefs depicts a woman beside a man and a priest in a traditional ceremony.


Kul-Farah has large bas-reliefs showing ensembles of vertical and horizontal harps which are as large as Mesopotamian harps. The site also had several other bas-reliefs which were removed in order to be stored in vacuum glass display units, but cultural officials have not agreed with the idea.


Ayapir Cultural Heritage Centre is determined to prepare the file of six Elamite bas-reliefs and inscriptions in Kul-Farah, the biggest worship place of ancient Iran during the Elamite period, in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.



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

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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