A team of Iranian and German experts has recently been assigned to monitor the ancient site of Bisotun during an 18-month project. The project is aimed at improving the methods for restoring and protecting the Achaemenid site, which was registered on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2006, Bisotun Cultural Heritage Center announced in a press release on Tuesday.
German experts were hired due to the lack of necessary instruments and sufficient domestic experience for restoring the rock at ancient sites, Bisotun center Director Hassan Ra'ei said.
No more details were mentioned about the German experts.
The team is scheduled to use a 3D laser scanner to locate the existing damages to the site, he added.
The scan will enable an expert to carry out a supplementary study on the text of the inscription and to make a replica of the bas-relief, he stated.
Bisotun is located in western Iran, 30 kilometers east of the provincial capital Kermanshah, at the foot of the Zagros Mountains.
Ra'ei said that the tectonic pressure has caused numerous cracks in the rock bearing the inscriptions and bas-relief.
He described rainfalls as the major factor that threatens the site and added, "The karstic structure of the rocks allows rain to seep easily through the cracks and gaps."
The area, which houses Bisotun, was on the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and contains remains from prehistoric times to the Median and Achaemenid eras.
The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius the Great shortly after he ascended to the throne of the Persian Empire in 521 BC.
The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign of sovereignty and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius's rise to power.
Below and around the bas-relief, there are about 1,200 lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the governors who attempted to dismantle the empire founded by Cyrus.
The inscription is written in three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done).
This is the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids to document the re-establishment of the empire by Darius I. It also bears witness to the interchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the region of the Persian Empire. There are also remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries BC) as well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries BC) and post-Achaemenid periods.
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