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Tarisha’s Historic Site in Danger of Destruction


31 May 2006




LONDON, (CAIS - edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav) -- After two years of interruption in the construction of a hotel and an amphitheatre in the vicinity of Eshkaf-e Salman (Salman Cave), also called Tarisha worship place, where the biggest Elamite cuneiform inscription is located, the Islamic Court in Khuzestan province voted in favour of the construction of the building.

Construction of this hotel which started two years ago in the vicinity of one of the most ancient caves of Iran without permission from the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Izeh is a real threat to the landscape of Eshkaft-e Salman historical site.

The court’s decision was announced two years ago; however, due to financial problems, the construction of the hotel had been stopped for two years and now the project is resumed in Eshfat-e Salman in Khuzestan province.

“Backed by the Islamic Court’s approval, the project manager has resumed the construction of this hotel in the area that is considered part of the cultural landscape of Eshkaft-e Salman historical site,” said Keramat Tahmasebi, director of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Izeh in Khuzestan province.

The pre-historical site of Eshkaft-e Salman is located in the city of Izeh in Khuzestan province and is one of the first historical sites in Iran which was registered in the list of Iran’s National Heritage. The largest New Elamite inscription is found in this ancient site which is about to be turned into a tourism destination.

Four reliefs can be seen in Eshkaf-e Salman, two of which are inside the cave and the other two are in the outside. What is interesting about these reliefs is that it is the first time the picture of a woman is carved beside a man. The image of the lady and sister of the king in a ceremonial tradition, while the priest is in front of them, shows that Eshkaf-e Salman was a worship place. 

What is happening in the case of Eshkaf-e Salman is only one example of the many other cases of this kind where the country’s Pre-Islamic cultural heritage is victimized by Islamic regime's so-called urban and development projects. Same things have repeatedly occurred in other parts of the country and that is something Iranians should find a solution to before it afflicts the entire country.

ICHTO is trying to highlight the importance of its cultural landscape, the lands that surround its historical sites, and to make people realize how vital preserving the cultural landscapes are in protecting the country’s cultural heritage. In fact, cultural and historical landscape has turned into a very important factor considered greatly by UNESCO during the last two decades in inscribing a place in the list of world heritage sites and one of the main concerns of cultural heritage experts and enthusiast.

What is ironic in the story of Eshkaf-e Salman and its struggle with the hotel is to remember that Iran is currently hosting the first workshop for promoting management and planning of cultural landscapes of world heritage, but yet the country itself has major problems in this regard. The workshop started Monday May 29th, in Persepolis, Fars Province, and is attended by experts from International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and UNESCO and heads of archaeological research centres both inside and outside Iran with the aim of raising the awareness of both the public and the authorities about the importance of preserving their cultural landscapes.

It is undoubtedly correct to argue that the conflicts between different organizations when it comes to making a choice between preserving a historic site and going on with a development project rise from lack of information about the importance of these cultural heritage sites. Nonetheless, in Iran's case not only there are very limited training in this area, but also 

the Islamic regime purposely has been destroying pre-Islamic sites. 


ICHTO tries to convince the country that one of the ways through which the countries may succeed in doing so is by passing some regulations which strictly forbid constructions in the vicinity of a historic sites. However, the problem in Iran is much deeper than anticipated, since Islamic Regime has a terrifying policy to erase all the records of pre-Islamic civilisation in Iran, like Taliban in Afghanistan, but in a subtle way, in the name of so-called urban and development projects.


Perhaps holding of the fist workshop for promoting management and planning of cultural landscapes in a country like Iran would lead into awakening the people, not to permit the Islamic regime destroy their national heritage.



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