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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Devastation in Susa - Call for Effective Action


27 June 2009



LONDON, (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 world.“

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?


Unparalleled Significance
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.


For 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 effective action.

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 expected.

Registering cultural, spiritual and environmental heritage of Shush in the World Heritage List is the least that can and should be done.


The 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.






Extracted From/Source: Iran Daily  [*]




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