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Esfahan-Shiraz Railroad still Poses Threat Naqsh-e Rostam


18 July 2007



Edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Farmers in Hajiabad village in Fars province have offered to sell their farmlands near the historic site of Naqsh-e Rostam to the Office for the Esfahan-Shiraz Railway Project.

This is while none of those involved in the project are ready to respond to questions about the issue and it seems that the railroad would pass near the edifice.

According to the Persian service of CHN, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) has on several occasions declared its opposition to the implementation of the project. It was earlier agreed that the railroad would run parallel to the Esfahan-Shiraz highway.

Earlier, Technical Council of ICHTO officially declared its final verdict calling to safeguard the precincts of Naqsh-e Rostam to the Islamic Republic Road and Transportation Ministry.

Studies reveal that if the railroad passes near the Achaemenid structure, tremors will cause the Ka'aba of Zoroaster to be destroyed in the long run. For this reason ICHTO has opposed the implementation of the project. Persepolis would also face exclusion from the UNESCO World Heritage list and would be placed in the Organization’s Endangered World Heritage Site should the railway project come into force. On the other hand, the project would highly reduce the chance for world registration of another historic evidence in the area, namely the Naqsh-e Rajab.

Islamic republic officials of Fars province have agreed to set up a committee made up of representatives from Governor General’s Office, ICHTO and Road and Transportation Ministry to study changing the route of the railroad.

Naqsh-e Rostam contains number of Achaemenid monuments, such as Ka'aba Zoroaster and mausoleums of the Achaemenid Emperors, one of which is expressly declared in its inscription to be the tomb of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king of kings who ruled over the Persian Empire between 549 and 486 BCE. The three other tombs besides that of Darius are believed to belong to Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. Kaaba of Zoroaster bears number of inscription belonged to Parthian and Sasanian dynastic eras. On the trilingual inscription, written in the Arsacid-Pahlavi, Sasanian-Pahlavi, and Greek languages, describes the war between Iran and Rome in which Iranians under Shapur I defeated Romans and their emperor Valerian was captured in 260 and died in captivity. In addition there are seven gigantic rock carvings right beneath the mausoleums which are dated to the Sasanian dynastic era (224–651 CE). 


In recent years the Islamic republic has stepped up its' cultural-cleansing of the pre-Islamic Iranian heritage under the banner of development projects. The regime has undermined and destroyed large number of major cultural landmarks associated with the ancient Iranian civilisation, particularly the Median, Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian dynasties, to deprive the Iranian nation of their rich ancient heritage - the recent example of such a policy was the inundation of Sivand Dam in April 16.


The constructions of the new railroad which would ensure the destruction of the Achaemenid Kaaba of Zoroaster and other monuments in Naqsh-e Rostam is in accordance with the cultural cleansing orchestrated by the Taliban-style regime in Iran.


The hatred of the extremist clerics for the pre-Islamic Iran and Iranian nation in general is such that they, like the Taliban of Afghanistan who destroyed the towering Buddhist sculptures at Bamiyan, intend not only to eradicate the ancient heritage, but even to erase all traces of its existence in that land. In their determination to rid Iran of the pre-Islamic past and obliterate its very memory, not only is a crime against Iranian peoples, but humankind in general.


One of the most-notorious clerics in Iran, Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, who was renowned for his brutality and mass executions in post-revolutionary Iran, had hopelessly tried to bulldoze and level-down Persepolis. However, the inhabitants of the nearby city of Shiraz set up barricades and risked their lives by laying down in front of the bulldozers – so saving the ancient site from destruction. Khalkali had intended to continue on to attack the mausoleum of Ferdowsi, as the greatest Persian composer of the greatest Persian epic, Shahnameh, but was dissuaded by the strongly negative public reaction at Persepolis.





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