Destruction of Parthian Roudno reliefs and serious damages to the Achaemenid rock tomb by explosives
By: T. Ebrahimi from Khuzestan for CAIS
Roudno Rock Tomb and
destroyed reliefs (Click to enlarge)
LONDON, (CAIS) -- The only known reliefs and rock tombs in Baghmalek district known as Roudno (rūdnō) have been totally destroyed with explosives. The reason for destruction remains unknown.
Roudno is located 2km from Sarhāni and 45km from the town of Baghmalek in Khuzetan province, southwest of Iran.
The news of destruction was initially reported to Khuzestan's Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association (TARIANA) by Bakhtiāri nomads living in the area.
Despite the importance and uniqueness of the site, it had never been registered on Iran’s national heritage list – although registration of a site has no significance in the Islamic Republic, since so far the regime has not shown any care for the pre-Islamic Iranian heritage.
The media has blamed smugglers for the destruction who were allegedly searching for treasures, however, the evidence suggests otherwise.
“The explosives were placed over the two lower reliefs which have both consequently been completely destroyed and we no longer have any evidence of their existence as they had never been recorded” said an archaeologist with ICHTO who wished to remain anonymous for her safety.
“The actual rock tombs are located approximately three meters above the ground level, and in order to search for treasures, explosives are expected to be placed within the chambers which are easily accessible and not outside over the reliefs – therefore suggesting the destruction was intentional”, said the archaeologists.
She continued: “In addition, one of the explosives was placed adjacent to the opening of the chamber at the bottom of the upper relief, causing part of it to be destroyed. There is no reason to place an explosive there. It seems the guilty party intended to destroy the third relief and did not succeed since they either ran out of explosives or were disturbed.”
In the recent years the pre-Islamic heritage sites of the province, in particular the Achaemenid dynastic sites were subjected to a series of organised vandalisms and destructions, and it seems this one is in line with the previous destructions”, concluded the archaeologist.
The nomads blame the Arab immigrants living in the province for the destruction of the ancient site, and accuse the al-Ahwazi terrorist group allegedly financed by the UK.
Since the rise of the Islamic republic to power with the backings of West, particularly Britain, the regime has given residency to 750,000 immigrants from Iraq, majority of which are housed and given key jobs in Khuzestan province. The numbers are so high and pronounced that the Persian language in many places is no longer spoken, especially in banks and government buildings, to the extent that Khuzestanis see themselves as a minority in their own mother land.
“The Arab immigrants escaped to Iran from Saddam Hussain’s prosecution – now there is no threat to Shia population and therefore there is no reason for them not to return to Iraq – our Persian hospitality is overdone, especially when the guests hate the hosts and lay claims over our homes. The Islamic Republic is another Qajar dynasty who gave away our territories in the Caucuses and Central Asia. We Iranians should do something ourselves about this danger today as tomorrow it will be too late and the province after 2500 years of being Persian will turn to “Arabistan” and the dream of the enemies of Iran who wish to control oil-rich Khuzestan will become a reality”, said a worried Khuzestani cultural heritage figure who also wished to remain anonymous for his safety.
Roudno (also Roud-e No meaning 'the new river') is among many of the rock tombs in Baghmalek known to locals as Bard Gūrī (Pers. Gūr Dakhma). However, what separates Roudno from other rock tombs in the area, is its reliefs. In the area the rock tombs have usually been dated to the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE).
Although this type of rock tombs dates to the Parthian dynasty, the 63cm tall relief carved adjacent to the entrance is puzzling, as it has an Achaemenid style hairdo, wearing a Parthian outfit and boots in an unfamiliar posture holding an object. It is also claimed to be a figure of a woman due to the feminine posture and hairdo, possibly was depicted a Parthian priestess.
Yunes Sharifee, spokesman for Baghmalek Friends of the Cultural Heritage Association after speaking with the Persian service of ISNA regarding the rock tombs said: “rock tombs are important in Zoroastrian religion as the bodies of the deceased were placed within the rocky chambers in order to prevent pollution of the sacred elements of air, wind and earth.”
The area is attractive to Bakhtiari nomads since it is covered with oak, lotus and turpentine trees. The area is also considered as a permanent base for the elderly who are no longer able to endure the nomadic life and annual winter and summer pasture migrations.
The cultural enthusiasts have called ICHTO to pay attention and protect Iran’s heritage sites in the province.