Railway Likely to Knock Persepolis Off UNESCO's List
By Soudabeh Sadigh
Experts have warned that construction of a railway in
the vicinity of Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam would not only destroy two of the
most important historical sites of Iran, it could also knock Persepolis off
UNESCO's World Heritage List.
Persepolis, photo by Syma Sayyah (see
Tehran, 13 November 2006 (CHN) -- While
cultural heritage enthusiasts both inside and outside Iran have not yet
recovered from the shock caused by the construction of Sivand Dam in Bolaghi
Gorge, Fars province, which is to destroy more than 130 historical sites and
large numbers of archeological evidence, the news about construction of a
railway near Naqsh-e Rostam and Persepolis, also in Fars province, has
raised yet another concern.
Once again another unstudied development project in
Iran's Fars province has jeopardized a historic site: This time the victim is
the Achaemenid palace of Persepolis, allegedly the most important cultural
heritage site of Iran. Already inscribed in UNESCO's list of World Heritage
Sites, Persepolis would face exclusion from the list and
would be placed in the Organization's Endangered World Heritage list should the
railway project comes into force. On the other hand, the project would highly
reduce the chance for world registration of another historic evidence in the
area, namely the Naqsh-e Rostam.
The news evoked panic among the Iranian nation; and
cultural heritage experts warned that construction of a railway near Naqsh-e
Rostam will create serious problems for this historic site as well as
Since Persepolis is already registered in the list of
UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, regulations concerning cultural landscapes of
historic sites ratified by UNESCO and World Heritage Committee in the recent
years will come into play if Iran continues its railway construction project
near this ancient site. On the other hand, Iran's attempt in registering
Naqsh-e Rostam in the list of UNESCO would turn out ineffective if the railway
is constructed in this area.
"Based on a comprehensive program initiated by
Parse-Pasargadae Research Center, the files of three other historical sites
located in the cultural landscape of Persepolis including Naqsh-e Rostam,
Naqsh-e Rajab, and Sassanid city of Estakhr have been compiled and are almost
ready to be submitted to UNESCO for world registration. However, the
construction of the railway in the vicinity of Naqsh-e Rostam will ruin the
chance of this historical site for being inscribed in the List," said Maziar
Kazemi, director of Persepolis complex.
In order to install the train tracks, workers have
made an embankment of soil rising 5 meters above the ground at the distance of
300 meters from Naqsh-e Rostam. This has vulgarized the cultural landscape of
this historical site. On the other hand, passing of the train near this historic
site will have a destructive effect on Naqsh-e Rostam over time.
Despite previous agreements between Iran's Cultural
Heritage and Tourism Organization and the country's Ministry of Transportation,
construction of this railway started without any coordination with ICHTO.
Although Iran's Road and Transportation Organization,
which is in charge of construction of railways in the country, has not yet
submitted the map of the railway route to ICHTO, it has become clear to some
ICHTO experts that the railway path will come close to the historic site of
According to Kazemi, the technical department of
Parse-Pasargadae Research Center has come up with several suggestions so that
the railway could be established in the area without harming Persepolis and
Naqsh-e Rostam. The ideas will be given to the Road and Transportation
According to Kazemi, the best approach is to direct
the railway to a transit route which is located at an appropriate distance from
Naqsh-e Rostam. He said that the railway should be constructed lower in the
ground and this way the cultural landscape of this historic site would not be
This is not the first time that a world heritage site
in Iran is in danger due to unwise development policies. Construction of
Jahan-Nama Tower in the vicinity of the world heritage site of Naqsh-e Jahan
Square in the city of Isfahan can be taken as one of the most recent and
sensitive examples in this regard. Once threatened by UNESCO, warning Iran of
the inclusion of Naqsh-e Jahan in the list of World Heritage in Danger, the
Iranian officials decided to reduce the height of the tower.
The same story is about to repeat itself for
Persepolis and Naqsh-e Rostam this time.
Naqsh-e Rostam contains seven tombs which belong to
Achaemenid kings, one of which is expressly declared in its inscription to be
the tomb of Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king who ruled over the Persian
Empire between 549 and 486 BC. The three other tombs besides that of Darius are
believed to belong to Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. There are also
seven gigantic rock carvings in Naqsh-e Rostam right below the tombs which are
dated to the Sassanid dynastic era (224-651 AD).
... Payvand News - 11/13/06 ... --