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Leading train through tunnel, only way to save Naqsh-e Rostam

Tehran, Jan 1, IRNA-After studying different alternatives for saving the cultural landscape of the historic site of Naqsh-e Rostam against railway construction, experts of Parse-Pasargadae Research Center concluded that the most effective way to prevent the railway from intruding the historic landscape of this Achaemenid site is to construct a 6-kilometer-long tunnel from Sivand to Shoul village and direct the train through the tunnel.

Present and proposed railway routes

Announcing this news, Hassan Rahsaz, an expert in Parse-Pasargadae Research Center explained that the tunnel could be constructed at a distance of 4 to 5 kilometers from Naqsh-e Rostam without posing any threat to its ancient structures.

"Since execution of this project is not an easy task, we have suggested the railway authorities to instead construct the railroad parallel to the new Shiraz-Isfahan highway which is more than one kilometer away from Naqsh-e Rostam while according to the current plan , the railway is to be constructed only 400 meters from this historic site," said Rahsaz.

An embankment spoiling the landscape of the historic site of Naqsh-e Rostam was recently constructed for the railway track about 400 meters from the monument. This is while the Parse-Pasargadae Research Center has prohibited making of any embankment anywhere near Naqsh-e Rostam.

In a recent meeting to settle the controversy between Iran's Ministry of Road and Transportation and Iran's Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) over the railway connecting Shiraz to Isfahan, preservation and protection of cultural heritage sites, especially Naqsh-e Rostam came into focus.

In the meeting, it was decided that an expert committee consisting of representatives from ICHTO and its provincial department at Fars and Iran's Ministry of Road and Transportation should officially study the proposals for the new path and announce its final decision within one month.

Construction of the railway not only threatens the bas-reliefs and inscriptions of Naqsh-e Rostam, it is also seen as a real threat to the world heritage site of Persepolis and could place it in UNESCO's endangered heritage list.

Many actions have been taken by the locals to prevent construction of the railway near Naqsh-e Rostam. Recently, a group of farmers in the nearby villages of Hossein-Abad and Haji-Abad planted seeds across the entire land which was leveled by bulldozers for railway construction purposes to show their objections, especially since the railway is planned to pass through some of their farming lands.

"The path chosen for construction of the railroad goes around Haji-Abad cave and passes through part of Haji-Abad's farmlands which must be purchased from their owners by railway authorities," said Rahsaz.

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 the Great 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), all of which would have highly been threatened had railway construction resumed in the vicinity of Naqsh-e Rostam.

... Payvand News - 1/1/07 ... --

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