Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World
in Susa - Call for Effective Action
(CAIS) -- Following the repeated destruction of the Shush ancient site,
renowned archeologist Ehsan Yaqmaei wrote an article criticizing the
unacceptable state of affairs. The Persian version of the article has been
published on CHTN site.
Yaqmaei has been active in several excavation projects, including in Shush,
Bardak Siyah (Borazjan) pertaining to the Achaemenid era, Damghan’s Hesar Hill
belonging to the Brass Age, Boukan’s Qalaichi and the historic city of Arjan.
He believes that the management of cultural heritage affairs in the country has
not been up to the mark, in particular with regard to some of the most
distinguished historic sites such as Shush. “It has also not been able to
effectively present the country’s cultural and historic glory to the outside
Excerpts of the article:
Once again we shockingly witness the blatant and extensive onslaught on the
country’s cultural heritage in Shush. Building the Amir Zargar Hotel only 30
meters from Apadana Complex in Shush is a debilitating blow to our heritage,
culture and history. Worse still, Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and
Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) has been silent about it.
One may ask why is Shush being subjected to this bizarre and agonizing fate.
Have the eras of aggression against Shush by King of Assyria Ashurbanipal and
the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein not yet ended?
Shush’s Ancient Complex has all kinds of potentials. It is indeed
unparalleled in the world in terms of historical considerations and human
accomplishment. Shush is one of the places in the world where writing was
invented. It was the capital of the Elamite and Achaemenid empires. Greek
thinkers, whom are held in high esteem by the Europeans and the rest of
the western world, admired Shush and the Achaemenid Empire in the fifth to
third centuries BC and envied the prowess and grandeur of Shush.
Furthermore, Shush has unique cultural potential. It is a complex that has
been created in a special geography. Communities living in Shush from a
few thousand years ago had forged an exemplary interaction with geography.
Some cases in point are the Shapur and Karkheh rivers. Shapur River was
used in the best possible manner during the Elamite and Achaemenid periods
and played a fundamental role in the growth of Shush. Its palm groves and
woods of Karkheh and Dez that Ashurbanipal referred to as ’sacred
Elamite woods’ at one point in time were habitats of the Iranian lion
that disappeared int the last century.
These were among the most important elements of Shush’s cultural and
natural landscape. We must rise to the occasion and revive and protect
this cultural and natural landscape before it is too late.
Shush can and should be studied also from the point of view of ’cultural
landscape’. Cultural landscape includes all tangible and intangible
environmental and cultural diversities. Since 1992, the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) used the term
’cultural landscape’ for registering cultural sites, which has been
neglected in Iran. We must plan and organize.
now our cultural heritage and glory has been harmed due to mounting
pressures from haphazard construction work and industrial and agricultural
development which have little if anything to do with cultural values and
norms. If this destruction cannot be stopped its fallout must be
contained. We should not allow lethargy and indifference destroy
everything. The prevalent stagnation in ICHHTO is a major hurdle to
Courage & Patience
ICHHTO should be a dynamic and innovative institution and offer society
meaningful cultural solutions. It should be recalled that the Achaemenid
kings ruled the Persian Empire from Shush all the way to India with great
courage, resilience and patience despite the cultural diversity of its
people. Today it is regrettable that ICHHTO management cannot even
introduce our cultural heritage to the international community as
Registering cultural, spiritual and environmental heritage of Shush in the
World Heritage List is the least that can and should be done.
importance of Shush is not restricted to the Elamite and Achaemenid eras.
One issue of paramount importance regarding Shush is that people lived in
that region for 7,000 years. This means life continued in Shush from a few
millenniums before the historic era till the contemporary times. There is
an invaluable wealth and legacy of architecture and urban development in
Shush from the Elamite period which is our historic and cultural asset.
But today it is seriously in harm’s way. Shush has a rich combination of
the glories of Parthian and Sasanian dynasties as well as post-Sasanian
and Islamic periods. One of the very first mosques in Iran is located atop
the Shush hills.
Each point mentioned above should serve as powerful justification for
registering Shush as world heritage. It is high time that instead of
relegating important affairs to the weak and negligent management of
Khuzestan’s Cultural Heritage Directorate, like during the (1980-88
Iraq-Iran) war years the people of Khuzestan rise to the occasion and get
the job done.