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Sivand Dam project delayed until archaeological excavations completed

TEHRAN, Mar. 1 (Mehr News Agency) -- MP Amirreza Khadem recently stated that the Energy Ministry has announced that the reservoir of the Sivand Dam in Fars Province would not be filled until the archaeological excavations in the area are completed, the Persian service of IRNA reported on Wednesday.

Khadem, who is a member of the Majlis Cultural Committee, added that the committee has a positive view of the ministry's action and said there is no need to worry.

"The Energy Ministry had asked the Cultural Heritage Organization about the Sivand Dam project ten years ago, but the organization had given no response, so the ministry then began its construction," he noted.

He expressed regret that the government has allocated extremely meager funding to the cultural sector for Iranian calendar year 1385 (begins March 21, 2006), adding, "If we try to introduce our ancient civilization and monuments to the world and attract more tourists, we will surely gain more profit in this way."

The director of the Archaeology Research Center of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO), Masud Azarnush, also stated that everyone shares his concern about the project.

He emphasized that the archaeologists are making the utmost efforts to complete the excavations and announce the results.

Azarnush also noted that preparing archaeological maps is one of the priorities of the CHTO, saying that the maps are the main means to safeguard the cultural heritage of the country.

The Sivand Dam is being constructed in Fars Province in the Tang-e Bolaghi mountain pass near Pasargadae and threatens the two ancient sites.

Pasargadae was the first capital of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid dynasty (about 550-331 BC).

Tang-e Bolaghi was once part of the renowned imperial route to Persepolis and Susa.

Teams of Iranian, Italian, French, Polish, German, Australian, and Japanese archaeologists have been assigned to save 129 ancient sites at Tang-e Bolaghi, which also contains sites from the Neolithic and Paleolithic periods, the early, middle, and late Elamite era (2700-645 BC)and the Sassanid era (224-651 CE).

Experts believe that the water stored in the dam's reservoir will increase humidity, which will later damage the foundations of the palaces of Pasargadae as well as the Tomb of Cyrus the Great.

The area is home to 84 historical sites, including ancient mounds, metalworking furnaces, caves and shelters, stone tombs of governors of Fars from previous eras, two group graves from the Parthian era, an exclusive 4-kilometer royal road paved with stones, as well as several other historical sites which will be submerged under water when the dam becomes operational.

... Payvand News - 3/2/06 ... --

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