Natural environmental factors have been added to the perils threatening the Shush Castle, a historical monument that is a storehouse of many ancient Iranian inscriptions and artifacts.
Heavy rainfalls and strong winds have dealt devastating blows to the castle, the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency reported on Monday.
The Shush Castle is located on a hill in Shush near the ancient sites of Susa in Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran.
The construction of the Shush Castle was started in 1897 by the French civil engineer, geologist, and archaeologist Jacques Jean-Marie de Morgan (1857-1924), who had come to Iran to carry out excavations in the region.
The Code of Hammurabi, a stele bearing the most complete and perfect extant collection of Babylonian laws developed during the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), was discovered near the hill in 1901 by French Orientalist Jean-Vincent Scheil. It is now preserved in the Louvre.
Bricks dating back to various historical eras, which had been scattered at the Susa region's ancient sites of Haft-Tappeh and Chogha Zanbil, were used in building the castle.
De Morgan managed to convince the French government of the time of the necessity of sponsoring the construction of the stronghold, which was used as a safe haven for his team and as place to carry out their studies.
The construction of the castle, in a style reminiscent of medieval architecture, was completed under the supervision of local architect Mostafa Dezfuli in 1912.
Some of the bricks, even those that have been used in the building floor, bear inscriptions, which are being threatened by erosion through people occasionally visiting the castle, the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Lovers Society (Tariana) spokesman Mojtaba Gahestuni said on Monday.
Due to lack of a strong foundation for the castle, a number of cracks of various sizes have emerged from various parts of the building, he stated.
Mortar rounds and bombs that hit the surrounding area during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war caused damage to the castle, he added.
Gahestuni also said that the inept restoration efforts carried out over the past few years have spoiled the authenticity of the monument.
In 2008, the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (KCHTHD) began a project to replace the brick inscriptions.
However, it was halted due to objections raised by restoration experts of the Shush Cultural Heritage Center (SCHC), who believed that the replacement project would spoil the authenticity of the monument.
The SCHC was said that it had begun a study to find an appropriate way to properly safeguard the bricks, but nothing has been published about the study.
According to a report published in 2007, about 90,000 archaeological artifacts are kept under appalling conditions in the underground storerooms of the Shush Castle and they have become completely dilapidated as a result of neglect.
The artifacts belong to various periods of Iran's history. Artifacts that were discovered by the French archaeologist Roman Ghirshman in the 1940s are among the relics languishing in the gloomy cellars.
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