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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


UPDATE: Prank or Plot: Threat looming over the Cyrus the Great’ Mausoleum


10 September 2010



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Ahmadmirza Koochak Khoshnevis,

the new director of ICAR


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Iranian pilgrims paying their respects to the Father of the Nation. (Click to enlarge)


Shapour Suren-Pahlav


LONDON, (CAIS) -- The director of the Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research (ICAR) issued a statement retracting his previous comments regarding his professional-belief that the body of Cyrus the Great was mummified and possibly buried beneath his mausoleum in Pasargadae.


On Monday 6th September, Ahmadmirza Koochak Khoshnevis gaudily claimed Cyrus the Great was killed by ‘Huns’, his body was mummified and buried in an underground chamber beneath his Egyptian style mausoleum, in a depth of 35 meters beneath his current mausoleum.


While retracting and justifying his previous comments, the director of ICAR to everyone’s astonishment made another gaffe regarding who killed Cyrus the Great. Previously Khoshnevis stated that Cyrus the Great was killed by ‘Huns’ and this time, incorrectly again claimed that he was killed by the ‘Scythians[1]’.


Cyrus the Great was in fact killed during a battle with Massagetae, an Iranian nomadic confederation occupying an area in the north-east of Aral Sea in modern Kazakhstan – and neither by their Iranian cousins, the Scythians nor Huns who were unions of multiple Iranian and non-Iranian ethnicities.


In his statement Khoshnevis, defended himself arguing that he previously spoke as an ‘academic and a researcher’, and his assertions were in the form of a research proposal and there would not be any excavation beneath the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great until geophysical research is carried out.


It is however beyond belief that someone who claims to be an ‘academic and a researcher’ and is in charge of ICAR has no knowledge of Iranian history.


The Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research (ICAR) was established to further research into all aspects of Iran’s archaeological and historical past, across time and space. It is the main cultural body responsible for all the archaeological fieldworks, archaeological science, material culture, heritage and historical studies in an interdisciplinary framework in Iran.


An Iranian archaeologist wrote an article regarding Khoshnevis injudicious claims, mockingly criticising: “The killing of Cyrus the Great by ‘Huns’ is as absurd as someone claiming Nezām ol-Molk [(the 11th century Persian scholar and Grand Vizier of Saljuq dynastic Empire)] was killed by German Nazis.”[2]


"Mr Khoshnevis should realise that he is not a school kid to use Wikipedia as his source of information. He who claims to be an academic and is in charge of ICAR needs to read and rely on academically researched books and websites such as Iranica, in order to prevent such a gaffe from happening in future", written an Iranian blogger.

However, Khoshnevis has made an alarming comment in his new statement that could be interpreted as a plot that has already been set in motion by the Islamic Republic to dismantle and subsequently destroy Cyrus the Great mausoleum.


“We are not going to excavate beneath the mausoleum, until its’ approval”, Said Khoshnevis.


He did not elaborate when he submitted an application for such a permit, or even if such an application exits, and if there is such application who or what organisation is going to issue the permit.


An Iranian archaeologist told a CAIS correspondent in Tehran: “one thing is clear beyond any shadow of doubt that the regime wants to destroy the mausoleum at any cost. Whether such a crypt exists beneath his mausoleum or not, it should not be excavated, since we do not have the technology to conduct such a massive project.”


He added: “even if one day we deicide to excavate beneath the mausoleum, we need a joint team of geophysicists and archaeologists in collaboration with reputable international institutions such as the Oriental Institute [of the University of Chicago in US] to take part and oversee the operation, from the survey to the excavation – in order to ensure no unlawful activity will take place during the excavation to harm this priceless historical structure.’


He warned: “we have to be more vigilant now than ever to ensure the mausoleum won’t have the same fate as the Buddhas of Bamyan. If the Mullhaic regime is plotting to destroy the mausoleum, people have to stop them, the same way they challenged and stopped Khalkhali and his mobs thirty years ago and prevented the destruction of Persepolis.”


The said archaeologist refers to an event that took place at the beginning of the revolution, when the founder of Islamic Republic Ruhollah Khomeini who was known for his hostility towards pre-Islamic Iran and the Persian language, ordered his right-hand man and henchman, ‘the hanging judge’ Sadeq Khalkhali, to destroy the tomb of Reza Shah Pahlavi near Tehran, the Persepolis imperial platform, as well as the mausoleums of Cyrus the Great and the Ferdowsi.


After destroying the tomb of Reza Shah which took him nearly a month, Khalkhali went on to destroy Persepolis – but he was faced with resistance from the brave and patriotic locals who laid in front of the bulldozers. Khalkhali and his mob were finally chased away by the locals with the support of troops, sent from Shiraz by Nosratollah Amini, the then new and short-lived governor of Fars Province.


Mesbah Yazdi, the protégé and spiritual advisor to the Islamic regime’s appointed-president Mahmood Ahmadinjed, along with Ahmad Janati were disciples of Ruhollah Khomeini and share the same hostile views towards pre-Islamic Iran and the Persian Language as Sadeq Khalkhali. It is believed they belong to the Haqāni Circle; an offshoot of Hojatiyeh faction or those who subscribe to the ‘the Twelfth Imam School of Thought’ (tafakor-e Emām Zamānī)[3]. Haqni Circle is an aggressive school of radical Shiite Islam which lives in expectation of the imminent coming of the Mahdi, a sort of Islamic messiah. Many described them as the Islamic version of the North-American Fundamentalist-Evangelists.


Khalkhali in his book describes Cyrus the Great as a ‘liar, a tyrant, a homosexual and a Jew-lover.”


However, these clerics share number of other historical views, such as denying the holocaust. Perhaps their hostility towards Cyrus’s historical figure apart from being considered as the 'Father of the Nation'  is due to his benevolent-deeds, freeing Jews from Babylonian captivity, returning them to their homeland and rebuilding their temples in Jerusalem in 6th century BCE.


Cleric Hosseini, another hardliner and follower of the Mesbah Yazdi, in an angry sermon in Tehran in July 2008 criticised Cyrus the Great, shouting: “the person to blame for the Palestinian problem is that tyrant ‘Cyrus’. If wasn’t because of him we would not have the problem of Jews in Palestine or anywhere in the world. He [Cyrus] should have left the Jews to rot in the dungeons and die as slaves.”


Since 1979 and the rise of the clerics to power in Iran, the grime has commissioned a number of books to be written by newly and over-night created ‘scholars’, such as Nasser Pourpirar, Abbas Salimi Namin and Hassan Abbassi, denouncing Cyrus the Great and pre-Islamic Iran – a few of them have gone as so far as claiming Cyrus the Great is a fictional character created by Israelis and Americans and the pre-Islamic Iranian history is a Russian invention.


In addition, outside Iran, the regime has also hired a number of foreign academic and semi academic mercenaries to attack Cyrus the Great historical figure – some of which claim Cyrus was not Iranian. The well known among them is a pseudo-historian of Dutch nationality, known among Iranians as the ‘fat-Dutch’ and ‘little-bear Cyrus-hater’ who runs a website that provides the most biased and inaccurate information about pre-Islamic Iran, and spends most of his time either on Wikipedia forum-style encyclopaedia uploading misleading and inaccurate information about Cyrus the Great[4], or attacking Iranian cultural figures and activists outside Iran who oppose the Islamic regime. It is alleged that the Islamic regime has opened an office for him in the centre of Tehran and he receives a monthly wage for his supererogatory service.[5]

[1] Scythians were a group of western-Iranian warrior nomads, who lived in an area stretching from the west of the River Danube to the Taklamakan Desert in China. For more information please [ Click Here ].

[2] Reza Moradi-Ghiasabadi, ‘Mummified Cyrus: A New Example of Injudicious Claims’. (in Persian), accessed 09 September 2010 [ LINK ].

[3] Anjoman-e Hojatiyeh, Lož-e Framasonery por-sābeqe, Payk-e Sabz-e Mardom (in Persian), accessed 09 September 2010 [ LINK ]

[4] Koorosh Ahmadi, “Vandalism of Cyrus Cylinder article in Wikipedia by Eurocentirsts”, Kaveh, accessed 09 September 2010 [ LINK ]

[5] Kourosh Ahmadi & Shahyar Mahabadi, “When Iranian Professors attack their own History: The case of Dr. Parviz Rajabi”, International‫ Committee to Save the‫ Archeological Sites of Pasargad , accessed 09 September 2010 [ LINK ]


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