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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


UNESCO demanded an explanation surrounding the collapse of Sasanian Gargar Bridge


23 April 2011



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LONDON, (CAIS) -- UNESCO has demanded that the Islamic Republic-controlled Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) to explain the current status following the collapse of a section of the Sasanian Gargar Bridge at the Shushtar’s ancient water system structure in Khuzestan Province.


The organisation has also demanded explanations for the construction of a temporary bridge at the perimeter of the water system, the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Lovers Society (Tariana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni told the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency on Saturday.

The Gargar Bridge is one of 13 structures of the ancient water system, which was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009.

The ancient bridge collapsed purely as the result of the authorities negligence. 


Several months prior to the collapse of the ancient bridge, the cultural authorities warned the authority and demanded funds to repair it. The regime blames the collapse on heavy rainfall. Recently many ancient buildings have collapsed, including an early Sasanian palace near Busher, which the authority once again blamed nature and the heavy rainfall, while the farmers in the area have lost their livelihoods due to a severe drought.


"It seems God has something against our pre-Islamic heritage, as the rains only fall on pre-Islamic structures in the country", said a local.


After the collapse of the bridge, Municipality, who was still reluctant to close the bridge finally gave in under the locals' pressure, closed the bridge and began to assemble a metal- bridge out of water-pipes near the Mizan Weir, which spoils the ancient landscape. In addition, Iranian cultural heritage experts believe that the temporary bridge has violated the perimeter of the water system structure.

As a result, Shushtar Municipality announced that the bridge would be removed by March 21, but the date has been postponed until July 22.

There has been slow progress in the restoration of the Gargar Bridge, Gahestuni said.

Gahestuni said that part of the wastewater from Shushtar was flushed down to the river that flows into the water system. The wastewater spreads unpleasant odors, keeping tourists and visitors away from the structure.

Shushtar’s water system structure is located near the ancient city of Susa in southwestern Iran.
The construction of the water system began during the reign of the second Iranian dynasty, the Achaemenids (550-330 BCE) on one of the Gargar River’s tributaries and the system was later expanded by the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE).

The waterworks are comprised of bridges, dams, mills, aquifers, reservoirs, tunnels and canals, most of which were constructed in the Sasanian dynasty especially during the reign of Shapur I, the Great (241-272 CE).

The structures were used as an irrigation system and encouraged cultural interaction within the region. The waterfalls presented visitors with a beautiful and unique landscape, while they enjoyed the results of hydraulic engineering technology rare at that point in history.

The Shushtar waterfalls are among the few ancient water systems in Iran used for irrigating the Shushtar plain.






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




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