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Iran: Biggest Ilamite Inscription Sprinkled with Paint

The biggest Elamite cuneiform inscription carved on the rocks of Eshkaf-e Salman (Solomon's Cave), otherwise known as Tarisha worship place, was found speckled with paint by an unknown party.

Tehran, 17 September 2006 (CHN) -- One of the most exquisite and valuable inscriptions denoted to the Elamite civilization, which is indeed the biggest one of its kind left from the rich civilization of Elam (3400 BC-550 BC), was found splashed with paint. No one has yet claimed responsibility for this cultural heritage disaster.

Located in the city of Izeh in Khuzestan province, the pre-historical site of Eshkaft-e Salman, known as Tarisha worship place, is one of the first sites in Iran which was registered in the list of Iran's National Heritage. It contains the biggest inscription carved in New Elamite cuneiform script which is now being ruined as a result of improper management and lack of security both in Eshkaft-e Salman and the nearby Kool Farah historic site.

Following this incident, the Association of Cultural Heritage Supporters of Izeh has called for special envoys to be sent to the site for protecting it from further possible damages. Speaking of the poor security at this historic site, Faramarz Khushab, manager of the Association said: "Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Izeh does not have the proper facilities and human resources to protect the archeological sites of Eshkaft-e Salman and Kool Farah. A few weeks ago, some illegal diggers beat up the guardians of the site. Several days later, some unknown people splashed paint on the inscription of the ancient site of Eshkaft-e Salman. Had the guardians of the site been equipped with wireless communication handsets, they could prevent such a disaster by prompt reporting."

Four reliefs can be seen in Eshkaf-e Salman, two of which are inside the cave and the other two are in the outside. What is interesting about these reliefs is that it is the first time the picture of a woman is carved beside a man. The image of the wife and sister of the king in a ceremonial tradition, while the priest is in front of them, shows that Eshkaf-e Salman was a worship place. The inscription and the intaglios at Eshkaft-e Salman illustrate early humans' quest for divinity.

The Association has expressed its concern that the same story could be repeated in the future and the historic site of Kool Farah could be the next potential target.

The Elamite intaglios of Kool Farah used to have a metal cover protecting them from being destroyed. The metal protector was removed to be replaced with a vacuumed glass cover. However, the new glass protector was never made as the idea could not win the approval of Iran's Cultural heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO). ICHTO experts believed that the glass cover could pose more serious threats to the 3000-year-old reliefs of Kool Farah as it could concentrate sunlight on the rock reliefs. Nonetheless, not only the metal cover was never placed back, protecting the intaglios was completely forgotten.

"ICHTO does not provide lighting system to illuminate the site at nights. 70 years ago, parts of the rock reliefs were stolen from this ancient site and if security is not provided here, illegal smugglers could easily take advantage of the darkness at nights, and using the modern equipments they have, the reliefs are very likely to be destroyed and smuggled again," added Khushab.

... Payvand News - 9/17/06 ... --

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