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Iran: Bridge construction project near historic Naqsh-e Rustam cancelled

TEHRAN, Feb. 28 (Mehr News Agency) -- A bridge construction project, which was threatening the Achaemenid site of Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran's southern province of Fars, has recently been cancelled.

A series of efforts were made by the Parsa and Pasargadae Research Foundation (PPRF) and the Fars Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department that persuaded the officials of the Shiraz-Isfahan railway line to cancel the project, the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.

If the bridge, which was to cross a road at a distance of one kilometer from Naqsh-e Rustam, were to become operational, the construction would spoil the horizontal view of the site.

The PPRF proposed construction of a tunnel or installation of crossing gates, if the highway and railway line cross at track level, PPRF director Mohammad-Hassan Talebian told CHN.

"Construction of the tunnel will be supervised by a team of archaeologists after a comprehensive geophysical study, if the option is chosen," he said.

In 2006, the railway line threatened Naqsh-e Rustam, home to the tombs of the Achaemenid kings Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II, and several other sites dating back to the Elamite and Sassanid eras.

The railway right-of-way was to pass at a distance of about 350 meters from Naqsh-e Rustam. The distance was increased to over one kilometer following the objections raised by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization and the PPRF.

However, the threat still remains to another ancient site nearby.

The construction of the Shiraz-Isfahan railway line now imperils the ancient strata of the Rahmatabad Tepe.

The railway line is to pass at a distance of 10 meters from the Rahmatabad Tepe and archaeologists believe that the constant vibration from passing trains would eventually damage the ancient strata and artifacts buried in the mound.

Excavations on the Rahmatabad Tepe in 2006 led to the discovery of a large number of ancient shards and kilns, and an important industrial site dating back to the 5th millennium BC.

Experts believe that the ancient strata and the kilns buried under earth at the mound will be destroyed if the railway line is allowed to pass close to the site.

... Payvand News - 02/28/09 ... --

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