cais1.gif (153930 bytes)

CAIS Persian Text.gif (34162 bytes)


The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies

 Persian Section.PNG (9914 bytes)


About CAIS


Daily News

News Archive


CAIS Seminars

Image Library





Contact Us


Facebook-Button.jpg (107165 bytes)




Sivand Dam Sparks New Rows About ancient Iranian Relic


17 October 2007




LONDON, (CAIS) -- For the people protesting against it, a new dam [Sivand] near these sun-drenched ruins may be more than an environmental upheaval: in it they scent an affront to the country's pre-Islamic identity.


For 2,500 years, the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great has stood on the plain at Pasargadae in southern Iran, a simple but dignified monument to a king revered as the founder of the mighty Persian Empire. But some fear the dam and reservoir pose a threat to the ancient structure.


They say the project may increase humidity in the arid area near the city of Shiraz, which they believe could damage the limestone mausoleum.


That may seem far-fetched – regime’s officials dismiss it -- but the row highlights deep cultural faultiness in attitudes to the Islamic Republic's wealth of pre-Islamic relics.


"This is an illegal project which will harm our historical heritage," said Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a lawyer campaigning against the Sivand Dam and an associate of Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.


He accuses the authorities of not paying enough attention to sites dating from before the Arab Muslim invasion of Iran in the 7th century: "They don't care about pre-Islamic history."


The regime’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad officially inaugurated the dam, some 7 km (4.5 miles) away from Pasargadae, in April. Cyrus the Great built the capital in the 6th century B.C.E. and is believed to be buried there.


Ringed by bare and tawny hills, Pasargadae is one of Iran's eight world heritage sites, though it is not as well preserved or famous abroad as Persepolis, erected by Cyrus' successors closer to present-day Shiraz.


Many Iranians still see Cyrus the Great as one of their greatest historical heroes, and the Father of the Nation, who arguably created the first world empire and showed tolerance towards different faiths of his era.


Cyrus conquered Babylon in today known as Iraq in 539 B.C.E. and freed the Jews held in captivity there. He is also credited with authoring a decree inscribed on a clay cylinder which some have described as the first charter of human rights.


"We are really proud of him. He was unique," said a man in Shiraz who gave his name as Reza Hosseini.




Islamic regime’s officials say the dam is needed to help farmers irrigate land to grow corn, rice, tomatoes and other agricultural produce. They have promised to closely monitor any climatic changes that result from the dam.


Islamic regime’s Vice President Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, another hardliner who heads the state culture and heritage organization, has suggested groups "opposing the Islamic Republic" are behind the protests.


"It is far from here," said one guard at the dam site, which is slowly filling up. "There will be no damage."


People in the provincial capital Shiraz -- renowned as a city of poets, roses and beautiful mosques, as well as for its imperial Persian ruins -- are not so sure.


They complain of contradictory information about the dam's potential impact and say they do not know what to believe.


"If there is even a tiny possibility of damage to historical monuments we have to be very careful," said shop owner Omid Nejati, selling hand-woven wool and silk carpets, one decorated with a motif of the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great.


Near the dam itself, even one of the farmers it is supposed to help was sceptical.


"We don't have water problems," said the 35-year-old man, declining to give his name because of the issue's sensitivity as he took a break from working the land.


"The dam was a project to create job opportunities for people from other areas."




In the mountains in the distance lies the Bolaghi Valley, which will be flooded as part of the project.


International teams have in the past few years excavated the area, believed to form part of a Persian royal road and to hold 137 archaeological sites, ahead of the planned inundation.


Farzin Fardanesh, a consultant of the UNESCO, said nobody could tell for sure what the dam's impact might be. There was justified concern, but "no proven risk" to Pasargadae.


  Ruhollah Khomeini (left)  and Sadeq Khalkhali (right) in early 1980s.

Picture CAIS Image Archive


In his book The Soul of Iran, American-Iranian journalist Afshin Molavi describes how Cyrus was praised by the Shah but criticized by the British-backed Muslim clerics and communists who toppled him in 1979.


After the 1979 fall of Iranian regime, one prominent ayatollahs, Sadeq Khalkhali branded Cyrus a tyrant, liar, homosexual, Jew-lover and even called for the destruction of his mausoleum as well as that of Persepolis. "Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed," Afshin wrote.


Even so, not much remains of Cyrus' Pasargadae: his multi-tiered mausoleum is the most impressive building even though it was looted and emptied long ago.


The parched surroundings make it hard to imagine that lush gardens once encircled the imposing cenotaph before Alexander, the Macedonian warlord in 330 B.C.E. crushed the dynastic empire Cyrus had founded around 330 B.C.E, his armies looting and burning Persepolis.


"Unfortunately the government didn't listen to us," said Dadkhah. But 4,000 people have signed his protest petition against the dam, he added: "I never give up."




Top of Page 



Extracted From/Source*: Reuters


*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.



<meta name="verify-v1" content="Kb4N15t1UVWj7aEXtMAMsR2vpb1WAyOpb5tfwsdcn1w=" />

my_Iran.jpg (13682 bytes)

"History is the Light on the Path to Future"


Persian_NOT_Farsi_by_Shapour_Suren-Pahlav_3D2.gif (177309 bytes)


Encyclopaedia Iranica

BIPS.jpg (15695 bytes)

The British Institute of Persian Studies

"Persepolis Reconstructed"

Persepolis_reconstructed2.jpg (36944 bytes)


The British Museum

The Royal

Asiatic Society

Persian_Gulf_Facebook.jpg (1935028 bytes)

The Persian Gulf

Facebook Page

Please use your "Back" button (top left) to return to the previous page

Copyright © 1998-2015 The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS)