The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(CAIS) -- The smashed column bases of the
Achaemenid Apadana Palace in Susa in Iran’s southwestern province of Khuzestan
are now being covered with mudbricks and sand in order to protect what is left of
the the ancient artefacts against further vandalism, a measure that Iran’s
cultural authorities took too late.
The Shush (Susa), Chogha Zanbil,
and Haft-Tappeh cultural heritage centres and the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage
Lovers Society (Tariana) collaborated on the project, the Persian service of CHN
reported on Saturday.
Mudbrick walls as tall as each
column base have been built around the remnants of the pillars at a distance of
5 to 10 centimetres and the area in between has been filled with soft sand,
Shush Cultural Heritage Centre official Sirus Barfi said.
They were then plastered over
with a mixture of mud and straw to complete the protective covering, he added.
Only two column bases of the four
columns of the palace’s eastern gate have survived but unfortunately, in
January 2008, they were each broken into two pieces and their inscriptions were
obliterated, reportedly by vandals.
“The Khuzestan Cultural
Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department undertook the installation of rods
around the zone, but the measure was inadequate and has not prevented
unauthorised people from entering the precinct,” Tariana spokesman Mojtaba
Gahestuni said earlier this year.
According to Gahestuni, the use
of concrete and iron rods for demarcation purposes has even led to some damage
to the area.
The inscriptions on the column
bases had been written in Old Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian during the reign of
Kind Xerxes I (c. 486-465 BCE).
An Egyptian-style sculpture of Darius the Great discovered near the eastern gate of the palace is currently on display at the National Museum of Iran.
It appears to be that these destructions are more than a simple act of vandalism by a few mentally disturbed individuals, but more likely a systematic attempt to destroy pre-Islamic Iranian heritage , which CAIS is calling an act of "Cultural Terrorism".
"The vandals knew what to target. This is was not the first time that they targeted the same columns which contain Old-Persian inscriptions. This is a systematic attack on our heritage -- and I won't be surprised if one day I discover the vandals belonged to the same faction that are responsible for the recent destruction of an Old-Persian inscription in Kharg Island. These cultural-terrorists must be found and should brought to justice" said an Iranian archaeologist to CAIS correspondent, who wished to remain anonymous for his safety.
He added "many of us believe these destructions were carried out by Arab-settlers in the province with the knowledge and even possible approval of the fundamentalist-regime in Tehran."
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