The Worrisome Status of Achaemenid Sites in Bushehr
Fig. 1. Bardak Siyah Scaffolding
Fig. 2 & 3 - Sang-e Siyah Palace in 1977
Fig. 4 & 5 - Sang-e Siyah Palace Today
(Click to enlarge)
LONDON, (CAIS) -- Today while some newly born states carved out of the old empires are employing historian and archaeologist-mercenaries to fabricate and falsify a history for themselves – at the same time many nations in the world with some or the same vast history comparable to Iran are spending millions of dollars every year to protect their historical sites and rely on tourism industry as a significant contributor to their economies and the premier source of their foreign exchange earnings – the Islamic Iran, which perhaps is the only country in the world that denies her historical past and wages war against her own national identity, heritage and interests.
In a recent report by the Persian service of CHN published on Tuesday, the southern Iranian province of Bushehr is named alongside Khuzestan and Esfahan and number of other provinces by the Iranian archaeologists as an endangered province when comes to the heritage sites.
While government controlled Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO) portrays and claims the Iranian heritage sites in Bushehr are protected and taken care of, the evidence tells a completely different story.
On August 3rd, a news regarding the dreadful status of Achaemenid palaces of Bardak Siyah (bardak siyā) and Charkhab (čarxāb) in Bushehr was published, which ICHTO immediately responded with a statement, rejecting the news and claims that the ancient sites are well protected and in good condition.
Iranian archaeologist and Achaemenid expert Mohammad-Taqi Ataee believes the issued statement is general and just refers to some historical evidence and previous archaeological expeditions in the province, without mentioning the issues that Iranian archaeologists are concerned about.
The statement includes some past promises that never materialised, restorations that no Iranian archaeologists are aware of it, and some general history about the previous archaeological expeditions in the area that took place before and after 1979 change of regime in Iran.
The statements regarding Bardak Siyah Palace claims that ICHTO has covered the whole site with a protection roof, which in reality some scaffolding has been erected the only thing this has done is to spoil the historical landscape (Fig.1.)
The archaeological activities section in the report refers to six seasons in Charkhab Palace (before and after 1979); two in Bardak Siyah Palace (one season in 1977 and an unfinished season in 2004); one season in Mohamad-Ābād, and one in Sang-e Siyah Palace (before 1979); and one in the Shahid Band-Ārezū Mound (after 1979).
Although all the archaeological activities prior to 1979 were compiled and are ready for publication, but nothing has been done yet. The Provincial Branch of ICHTO blames this on the lack of funding, while other provinces such as Lorestan, Mazandaran, Northern Khorasan and Kohkiloyeh with the same or even less funding have each conducted tens of successful archaeological research and have managed to publish their finds.
The only truth in this statement is the entry about the purchase of seven-thousand square meters of land surrounding the Bardak Siyah Palace, to prevent any agricultural activities near the palace.
However, the most devastating of all pre-Islamic sites in Bushsher is Sang-e Siyah Palace, which fails to mention its current condition in the report.
Sang-e Siyah Palace (sang-e siyāh – black stone) is located near the township of Dashtestan, sixty kilometres northeast of the Persian Gulf’s Port of Bushehr and one hundred and ten kilometres southwest of the city of Kazerun. The Palace is denoted to the Cyrus I, the grandson of king Achaemenes, the founder of the House of Achaemenid (later dynastic empire) and son of Teispes of Anshan. His grandson Cyrus the Great known as the “Father of the Iranian Nation” since he united and gathered all the Iranian peoples under a political and cultural umbrella in 550 BCE.
The first and only archaeological research on the site was conducted by archaeologist Dr Sirus Baqerzadeh in the winter of 1977 (Fig.2 and 3). The palace was restored; the recovered artefacts back then were transferred to the Iran’s Archaeological Research Centre and the results of the expedition were gathered in a book which was due to be published before the rise of Islamic Republic to power.
The said book was kept at the provincial ICHTO which mysteriously disappeared and to this day no one knows its whereabouts.
In mid 1980, The Taliban like destruction of giant Buddhas in Afghanistan, a number of post-revolutionary Islamic influential figures from Tehran and Bushehr with the assistance of another figure from the city of Borazjan known as Gholamreza A. have attended at the site of Achaemenid palace of Sang-e Siyah and bulldozed it down, and have dug over a meter into the foundation.
Today from the magnificent palace which was similar to Pasargadae, only a pile of rubble and broken stones remain (Fig. 4 and 5).
Although, due to the extensive destruction of the site, its restoration seems impossible, the ICHTO however has not taken any steps to protect what is left of the palace’s stones from being taken away by locals to be reused as building material.
A Portion of this news have been excerpted from Persian services of CHN and - Nasour - translated and rectified by CAIS. [*]