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CAIS NEWS ©

Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World

 

Recreation of Islamic Edifices at Pasargadae a New Move for Destruction of  Mausoleum of Cyrus the Great

 

28 August 2008

 

 

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Mausoleum of Cyrus the Great during the reign of Reza Shah (Pahlavi I - 1930s) with no evidence of any mosque presence in the pictures - Images courtesy of Oriental Institute of the Chicago University

 

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Mausoleum of Cyrus the Great today - Iranians paying their homage and respect to the Father of the Nation. (Click to enlarge)

 

LONDON, (CAIS) -- The Parseh and Pasargadae Research Foundation plans to destroy the edifices at Pasargadae, under the disguise of restoration of the Islamic structures, which were added to the Achaemenid site sometime between 12th and 16th centauries CE.

 

The structures include a mosque dating back to the 12th century CE and a Safavid caravanserai, foundation director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian told the Persian service of CHN on Saturday.

 

The mosque was constructed from the dismantled columns and stones from the palace of Cyrus the Great and the Apadana Palace. The remains of the columns and stones were transferred by archaeologists and experts back to their original locations for restorations purposes in 1971.

 

“During the time, the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East (L'Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente - ISMEO) restored the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great and the stones and columns were transferred to an area beside the Apadana Palace”, Talebian explained.

 

Some of the Achaemenid megaliths were damaged by mosque builders as they cut them into pieces and carved Quranic verses on them.

 

According to Talebian, some of the stone inscriptions of the mosque have been buried at the site of the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great.

 

Pasargadae is the home to the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, the founder the second Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenids (550-330 BCE). The ancient site has also contains Cyrus's palaces and several other Achaemenid dynastic era structures. However, due to the additional Islamic structures, Talebian believes that it is an Achaemenid-Islamic site.

  

The Islamic architectural structures were added to Pasargadae during the Salghurid era (1148–1270). The mausoleum itself for an unknown period of time served as the focal point of a medieval mosque which was known locally as Ma`shad-e Mādar-a Solaymān (the tomb of the mother of Solomon). Also a shallow mihrab or prayer niche, was cut into the southwest wall of the mausoleum's chamber. However, no archaeological research has ever carried out to determine and confirm the existence of such a mosque in the medieval period.

 

Salghurid ruled over 120 years in the Fars region in southwestern Iran, as the tributaries first of the Saljuq,  then of the Khwarazm-Shahs, and then of the Mongols. They were Persianised Turkmen, and it seems they have played a major role in the establishment of Saljuq sultanate of Rum (Anatolia).

 

An Iranian archaeologist with ICHHTO who wished to remain anonymous for his safety told CAIS: “this is an insult to our nation and a matter of grave concern. This is like Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper" housed in Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan being returned to be a stable, since during the Napoleonic wars it was used as a stable by French soldiers, or Greeks to transfer Parthenon stones from current and original location to another, since a few centuries ago they were pillaged and transferred to another location to be used for construction of an Ottoman mosque. So what is more important to Italians and Greeks? Their Parthenon and Da Vinci's mural or occupiers’ stable and mosque?”

 

“It seems flooding the plains of Pasargadae, creating an artificial lake underneath the mausoleum [of Cyrus the Great] and Pasargadae, and gradual destruction of the edifices are not enough, now they want to 'Islamisise' the ancient site too?” he added.

 

Another archeologists said: "this is absolutely pointless. Pasargadae already suffers from lack of funding, and if the management are able to raise such funds, they should spend it to protect the current endangered edifices, rather than a goose chase and recreating a hoax Islamic past."

 

She added: "Perhaps if this plan is to go ahead, they have an excuse but to close the site to visitors for archaeological research purposes, in order to prevent the public witnessing the current and gradual destruction of mausoleum [of Cyrus the Great] as the result of Sivand dam waters."

 

Ebrahim, a visitor to the site said: “perhaps this is a new tactic by the Mullahs [Islamic republic’s rulers], since visitors of the mausoleum [of the Cyrus the Great] pay their respect by bowing or kneeling before the Cyrus’s resting place, and this is a thorn in the regime’s side. People go to visit Shi’at shrines of Mashhahd or Qom because of superstition and fear, or visiting Khomeini for a free lunch or dinner, but people come here by choice, for love and respect to our forefather and founder of our country.”

 

Another visitor introduced herself as Zahra who was there with her husband and children said: “whatever these Akhunds [clerics] are up to again, their devious plan won’t work. They cannot claim that he [Cyrus] was a Muslim, simply because he was a humanitarian, loving, and kind figure in our history, who united Iranians under one umbrella. If he was a Muslim, he would have been corrupt, would have tortured, massacred, destroyed, and sold our country to foreigners piece by piece, as our current pure-Mohammedan regime in power does.”

 

Her husband Mohammad added: “the more tactics of this sort that the regime deploys is another nail to their coffins. These sorts of policies will make us go deeper to our pre-Islamic roots, and turn our back to Islam. They are waking our sense of national pride, and as a result the number visitors to the site will increase and our people will come from four corners of the country to pay their homage to our Zoroastrian father.”

 

Alireza, another visitor said: “if we look at our history almost half of it was ruled and governed by our Zoroastrian forefathers and the other half by Muslims. Our Zoroastrian regimes in ancient times created empires for us, brought prosperity, goodness and high culture – but the Islamic regimes since 1400 years ago have brought us destruction and misery,  the best example is our current regime in power.”

 

He concluded "when people come here as the mark of respect they either kneel or bow before the mausoleum and the regime's forces cannot prevent them from doing so. So perhaps they came up with this idea, to claim we are doing it, because of its' Islamic connection. There are rumors thata number of visitors have been arrested and taken away by regime's security forces for kneeling before Cyrus and were charged with apostasy."

Experts have objected the move by the Islamic regime and announced this will spoil the Pasargadae historical landscape, and will damage the original strata during the restoration. In addition it causes the Pasargadae to be removed from Unesco’s world heritage list.

 

In addition, no evidence of those Islamic structures stand today, and therefore the plan is more a "recreation" which ultimately will have no historical value, and not a "resonation" as they misleadingly claim.

 

“We shouldn’t be surprised, if the regime ploughs the site overnight in the name of archaeological research and the restoration of Islamic structures. The Islamic regime has been targeting the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great since 1980s and that’s why they built Sivand Dam, and they won’t rest and will use any cunning plan until it is destroyed. Therefore, this is a crucial time for our national heritage and we must be extra vigilant, and safeguard our heritage at any expense”, worriedly warned another expert who also wished to remain anonymous for his safety.

 

 

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Some information for this report was extracted from: Mehr News  [*] and edited by Shapour Suren-Pahlav

 

 

 

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