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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Earth Sinks at Ancient Site of Naqsh-e Rustam


12 January 2010



LONDON, (CAIS) -- Studies by experts show that the level of the earth has sunk five centimetres at the foot of the ancient bas-reliefs at the Naqsh-e Rustam site in Fars Province.


The mess is clearly visible where the rocks bearing the bas-reliefs meet the earth, a number of experts, who requested anonymity, told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency.


Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) controlled government has forbidden its managers and experts from giving interviews to the news media or disclosing any information to the press.


The experts said that the sinkage does not seem to be causing damage to the site. However, they also said that this is an abnormal occurrence for a site in which ancient monuments are situated.


Some of the experts believe that the newly constructed Shiraz-Isfahan railway line passing at a distance of one kilometre from Naqsh-e Rustam is the reason behind the problem.


They said that the sinkage might have been induced as a result of vibration caused by passing trains.


Digging numerous wells and reduction in the level of water tables in the region may be other factors causing the phenomenon, they added.


Naqsh-e Rustam is home to the tombs of the Achaemenid dynastic emperors Darius the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II, and several other sites dating back to the Elamite and Sasanian dynastic eras.


In 2006, Iranian archaeologists and cultural heritage enthusiasts raised objections to the construction of the railway line, which was to pass at a distance of about 350 meters from Naqsh-e Rustam.


The archaeologists believe that the constant vibration from passing trains would eventually damage the sites.


Consequently, the railway line was relocated at a distance of one kilometre from Naqsh-e Rustam.


However, the threat from the railway line still remains as evidenced by the sinkage of the earth.






Original news bulletin published by Mehr News rectified and edited by CAIS [*]




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