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Dissatisfaction with Bistun's Current Statues


16 July 2007




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Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- It is one year since UNESCO has added the historical site of Bistun to the World Heritage List and the authorities in Iran have done nothing to protect this important historical site or improve its devastating status. 

“Following the registration of the monument on the global heritage list, it was expected that better conditions would be available for tourists and the services offered at the site should be befitted for a monument of international standing,“ said Noureddin Farzadipour, the district governor of Bistun.

Describing the lack of a comprehensive plan as the main problem facing the edifice, he noted that unless a plan is devised and objectives are set, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) cannot go according to a specific schedule.

“I feel that the monument is more in need of a dynamic management and the organization should pay more attention to this,“ he said.

The Bistun historical site (Old Persian "Baghestān" meaning "the god's place") is located in western Iran, 30 kilometres east of the provincial capital city of Kermanshah at the foot of the Zagros Mountains. The area was on the ancient trade route linking the Iranian plateau with Mesopotamia, and contains a number of unique ancient sites from the Median, Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian dynastic eras, as well as Elamite and post-Achaemenid periods.


The Bistun Inscription, probably the most important monument of the site, is a trilingual statement of Darius the Great in Old Persian, Elamite, and Babylonian, and marks the birth of the Aryan (Old-Persian) script. The inscription, which is approximately 15 meters in height and 25 meters in width, is located on a relatively inaccessible cliff 100 meters above an ancient road connecting the Babylon and Ecbatana. However, the site can easily be viewed from below.


The monument suffered some damage from allied soldiers used for target practice during World War II, as well as the passage of time which several rivulets flowing in the horizontal cracks have been appeared in the edifice. Since the coming of Islamic regime to power, a Petrochemical Kermanshah Industries Co. (KPIC) which is privately owned was constructed in the vicinity of the site, which insures its gradual destruction. The main shareholders of KPIC are the prominent members of the Islamic Republic. In addition to these, in February this year Kermanshah’s Telecommunication Company for laying cables has destroyed some monuments in the area dating back to the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE) and Ilkhanid (1256-1336 CE).


Nonetheless, Iranian archaeologists have been undertaking some conservation works, but not enough has been dome to protect the site from further destruction, due to the lack of funding. Experts have repeatedly warned that negligence toward the Bistun would result in destruction of this ancient site. In December 2006, the Bistun management announced that since its registration on the World Heritage List, the situation has worsened to the point that only $250 worth of funds have remained to cover the cost of research, management, logistic and security of the site until the end of the Iranian new year (21 March 2007). This is while the Islamic Republic are executing hundreds of reconstruction projects in the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Najaf and Kazamain, in which one of the projects in Karbala known as the “Safinat ul-Nejah” has cost the Iranian nation US $7.5 million-dollars; - in December 2005, the regime has also spent $1.57 million dollars for retiling and paving the tomb of 11th shi'a imam at Kazemain.


The Islamic Republic is constantly spending hundreds of millions of dollars of the Iranian assets every year in Arab countries for its' futile aims; while Bistun and hundreds of other Iranian heritage sites are in danger of destruction as the result of lack of financial aid, in which a fraction of that money could be used to save Iranian heritage from destruction.


Bistun was registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on July 13, 2006 during the 30th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Vilnius, Lithuania.



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