Saturday, September 6, 2008

Susa Site to be Spared!

Good news from CAIS in a press release regarding this earlier story. Sometimes the good guys win, but not often enough, not often enough. ICHTHO Forced to Put a Stop on the Construction of Hotel in Susa 06 September 2008 LONDON, (CAIS) -- Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (ICHTHO) was forced by the media and Iranian cultural figures to place a ban on the construction of the multipurpose hotel complex in the perimeter of the ancient city of Susa in southeastern Iran. “The project was banned following a series of investigations by CHTHO’s experts,” Shush Cultural Heritage Centre (SCHC) director Mohammadreza Chitsaz told the Persian service of CHN on Friday. “The owner of the project can file a legal claim, however the owner is to be provided with a reciprocal parcel of land based on an agreement with the Shush Municipality,” he added. “It’s obvious that the hotel will never be built at the venue,” he emphasised. The construction of the hotel began in May of 2007 with the excavation of a 100x100 meter area to a depth of 6 meters following authorisation of the project by the director of Khuzestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department and the backing of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei director of ICHTHO. Ancient strata and shards which are believed to be part of a Parthian and Sasanian dynasties’ cemetery were totally destroyed during the construction. The strata and a large number of artefacts were destroyed and the earth excavated by loaders has been transferred to an unknown location by trucks. In his July press conference, ICHTHO Director Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei hopelessly tried to relinquish himself from responsibility and asked his office to investigate the case in order to determine the people responsible for damages to the site. It was Rahim-Masahaei himself who is also the Islamic Republic’s vice-president who endorsed the hotel construction and attended the commencing-ceremony. Under pressure from cultural figures and the media, he later claimed that he was not aware of Susa’s archaeological importance. The project was previously abandoned because it is located in an area that is also claimed by the Khuzestan Province Road and Transport Office. An expert with ICHHTO who wished to remain anonymous told CAIS: “What ICHTHO has put an stop on? Nothing. The damages has already been done, and 10,000 sq.m. of our history were razed. People like Mashaei are making a mockery of our nation and our heritage. How is it possible that a director of the organisation responsible for the protection of Iranian heritage is not aware of Susa’s historical and archaeological importance?” “Of course these people are aware of their crimes, because he was brought to power by his friend Mahmood Ahamadinejad to ensure the destruction of our country’s pre-Islamic heritage, and perhaps gather some wealth for himself in the process by taking bribes from wealthy but ruthless and irresponsible construction companies”, the expert concluded. Susa was an ancient city in the Elamite, Achaemenids, Parthian and Sasanian dynastic empires of Iran, located about 150 miles east of the Tigris River in Iranian province of Khuzestan. As well as being an archaeological site, Susa is also mentioned in the Old Testament as one of the places where the Jewish prophet Daniel lived. His tomb is located in the heart of the city of Shush. Susa is one of the oldest known settlements in the region, probably founded around 4000 BCE, though the first traces of human habitation dates back to 7000 BCE.

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