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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Construction of Hotels over the Partho-Sasanian Cemetery in Susa to Resume


17 March 2009



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  Mohammad Sadeqi and Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei, the men responsible for destruction of Partho-Sasanian cemetery in Susa; - and the destroyed Partho-Sasanian strata (Click to enlarge)


LONDON, (CAIS) -- The construction of two hotels, Lalaeh and Amirzargar over the archaeological sites in Susa, which ICHHTO was forced to put a stop to, are now to be resumed once again, reported the Persian Service of ISNA on Sunday. 

The initial construction resulted in destruction of 10,000 sq.m. of a Partho-Sasanian cemetery in Susa during the excavation for the foundation of two hotels. 

Hamid Baqaei, the vice president of Iran’s Cultural, Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) back in September 2008 announced the termination of permits for construction of two Hotels, Laleh by Khuzestan Municipality Office and Amir-Zargar by a private sector. 

In same date Mohammad Sadeqi, the director of Khuzestan Province CHHTO (KCHHTO) announced: “the fate of the hotel constructions will be revealed once the demarcation of the ancient site to be completed.” 

On Sunday Mohammad Sadeqi finally announced there is no obstacle for the constructors to restart, since there is no ‘demarcation policy’ in place. 

The demarcation policy of the ancient city of Susa was issued in a meeting on March 3rd, by a group of experts and heritage executives, including Archaeologists Mehdi Rahbar, Kamyar Abdi, Mirabedin Kaboli and Mansuri along with Siyavash Saberi, the director of Protection and Revitalisation of the Monuments and Historical Sites; Hosseinali Vakil, director of Historical and Heritage Registration Office. Subsequently, the demarcation order was distributed among the departments of the Khuzestan Municipality Office as well as KCCHTO. 

Mohammad Sadeqi refused to attend the meeting, but his office was informed the outcome of the meeting, The resumption of the construction therefore is illegal and is the breach of demarcation order. 

With regard to the site of the Amirzargar Hotel, Sadeqi issued a statement announcing: “the archaeological and scientific research confirms that the ground of Amirzargar Hotel is a historical [Parthian] site and any construction over or near it is prohibited.” 

Later he changed his statement and claimed the discovered potsherds are not Parthian but belong to Pahlavi period and therefore site has no historical value. 

However, at a glance the site of any cultural enthusiast is able to establish the site is of a historical value, and therefore no map or demarcation was required as a guide to decide its fate, especially when one claims to be the director of a provincial heritage organisation. 

Since 1979 and rise of Islamic Republic to power choosing executives are on the bases of their merits or educations but the level of their devotions to the regime. 

Unfortunately heritage sector is not an exemption from this alarming equation. For instance Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei who was appointed to run the organisation responsible for the protection of Iranian heritage (ICHHTO) was an intelligence officer with Revolutionary Guards (IRG). He alongside the current Islamic Republic’s president, Mahmood Ahmadinejad was serving in Kordestan province, were their friendships began. 

As the result of serving with IRG, Rahim-Mashaei was given an Electronics Engineering degree with no educational background. He later joined Ahmadinjed in Tehran Municipality Office before becoming his vice. 

With regard to Rahim-Mashaei’s knowledge of Iranian culture and heritage, when journalists back in 2008 questioned his participation in the destruction of Partho-Sasanian cemetery, he replied: “I was not aware of Susa’s historical importance.”

Susa was registered on Iran’s national heritage site in 1930s and every elementary school child in Iran knows the historical importance and its special place in Iranian history and civilisation. 

Susa was an ancient city in the Elamite, Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian dynastic empires of Iran, located about 150 miles east of the Tigris River in Iranian province of Khuzestan. It is one of the oldest known settlements in the region, probably founded around 4000 BCE, though the first traces of human habitation dates back to 7000 BCE. 





Portions of this news have been excerpted from Persian service of ISNA and translated and modified by CAIS. [*]




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