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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Metro construction caused a section of the Safavid Si-o-se-pol Bridge' foundation to collapse


24 February 2011



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  (Click to enlarge)


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Part of a ramp to the historical Si-o-Se Pol Bridge has collapsed as result of excavation for the Isfahan Metro on Monday.


In January 2010, by redirecting the original course during excavation work, structural damage was done to the western end of a tunnel for the Isfahan Metro near the Si-o-Se Pol Bridge, which dates back to the Safavid dynastic era. Thus, the Isfahan Metro was forced to stop excavating after many cultural heritage enthusiasts and experts have protested because of possible negligence by the tunnel contractor.


Excavation was resumed last week, an unnamed source told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.


The tunnel-boring machine has excavated 70 to 100 meters, the source added.


Officials of the the Isfahan Municipality, which owns the Isfahan Metro project, visited the Si-o-Se Pol Bridge, denying any connection between the collapse and the excavation for metro.


They announced that water pipes had burst, but only workers and machines of the Isfahan Municipality and the Isfahan Metro were observed at Si-o-Se Pol. No employee from the Water and Wastewater Organization were present at the bridge.


The Isfahan Metro officials have said that the city’s metro will be operational by 2012.


Other metro lines under construction are threatening monuments located on Safavid Chahar-Bagh Street as well as in Naqsh-e Jahan Square, a complex of Safavid-era monuments registered on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.


In 2001, UNESCO rejected the Isfahan Municipality’s request to construct tunnels beneath Chahar-Bagh Street and Naqsh-e Jahan Square. Despite rejection by UNESCO and opposition by the Isfahan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department, the project’s tunnels were bored.


Experts believe that vibrations caused by metro trains passing underneath the monuments will cause damage to nearby historical sites.


The bridge was also known as Allahverdi-Khan Bridge, which was named after the renowned Safavid's Armenian General. Along with Pol-e Jolfa, Pol-e Chehel-Cheshmeh and Pol-e Shah-Abbasi, Si-o-Se Pol is one of Isfahan’s historical bridges spanning the Zayandeh-Rud River. The bridge was constructed by order of the Safavid king Shah Abbas the Great in 16t. The bridge originally had 40 openings, today only 33 of which are functioning, hence the name 'Si-o-se' in Persian meaning thirty-three. 


The bridge, apart from commuting was used for the national Iranian celebration of Ab-Rizan (āb-rīzgān) during the early Safavid dynastic era. By closing the openings of the bridge and turning it into a dam, forming an artificial reservoir behind the bridge. Ab-Rizgan was celebrated on the thirteenth day of month of Tir on the Persian calendar (July 04). Ab-Rizgan was a celebration to commemorate the pre-Avestan God Tishtriya (Pahlavi Tishtar, New- Persian Tir) and is the Iranian name of the star Sirius, the Dog Star, which brings drought. Iranians would jump into the reservoirs asking Tir not to bring drought to their lands. The pre-Islamic Iranian celebration was later banned by later Muslim zeal Safavid Shahs. 


Si-o-se pol is 295 long and 14 meters wide and is registered on the Iranian national heritage list, number 110.



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




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