Dangers to pre-Islamic sites in Iran today

Lendering’s Note 5 against the CAIS website states that:

 “ …The report that the Iranian authorities will endanger the site of Pasargadae by building a dam in the Sivand, which has often surfaced in the blogosphere and probably is a hoax, was repeated on the CAIS website…This is sheer innuendo. One cannot help but think that the CAIS is an anti-Iranian propaganda institute disguised as a scholarly resource.”

Lendering has posted this view on Wikipedia as well:

The future inundation of Pasargadae is a well-known hoax, which has been refuted long ago. The news report that was quoted in the section I have removed, is from the CAIS, a website that is -for excellent reasons- blocked by Wikipedia; it also contained remarks like: "Iran’s pre-Islamic past and Iranians’ non-Islamic-national-identity and heritage have always been the subjects of abhorrence for the clerics. This diabolical plot by Ayatollahs in Tehran was set in motion in 1979 to destroy and erase all pre-Islamic Iranian past from the consciousness of the Iranian nation as part of their de-Iranianisation campaign."

Oddly enough, those clerics, once in power, have not pursued this "diabolical" policy, but instead spent lots of money to restore and maintain Iran's pre-Islamic legacy. In other words, the CAIS report is biased.

Jona Lendering (talk) 10:04, 16 July 2008 (UTC)
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Cyrus_the_Great"
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Cyrus_the_Great

This is indicative of Lendering’s ignorance of the state of affairs within Iran since 1979. Before dismantling the false observation about Pasargardae, an outline is provided regarding the destructive actions that have already taken place against pre-Islamic sites in Iran; not all of these have been done by pan-Islamic fanatics. One example of vandalism against Achaemenid sites took place at Persepolis on December, 6, 2006:


Destruction of Achaemenid relief by anti-Cyrus vandals at Persepolis, December 6, 2006
(Report on December 23, 2006 by Maryam Tabeshian of CHN; http://www.payvand.com/news/06/dec/1244.html)


Another example is December 19, 2006 in which a mass book burning took place by anti-Cyrus fanatics. These ideologues burned numerous post-Islamic manuscripts (in New Persian) regarding Cyrus the Great, the Achamenids and pre-Islamic Iran:

Anti-Cyrus activists burning books pertaining to ancient Persia inside Iran on December 19, 2006 (originally posted on pan-Turkist website www.baybak.com, subsequently reported by Payman Pakmehr of Tabriz News)

Many leading pan-Islamic ideologues in Iran actively called for:


the destruction of the Cyrus tomb and remains of the two-thousand-year-old Persian palace in Shiraz, Fars Province, the Persepolis.

Molavi, A., pp.14, 2005, in The Soul of Iran, Norton.


There are currently a number of ideological organizations inside Iran that are strongly opposed to the history of pre-Islamic Iran and have sought to destroy numerous sites, including Pasargardae. The only reason the site remains intact is due to the vociferous protests of UNESCO, the activities of a whole host of organizations inside of Iran as well as in the west (i.e. The Pasargard Heritage Foundation), and western reporters, etc. The CAIS website (which Lendering sharply criticizes), may not be up to date regarding this particular issue, however it is generally correct in highlighting the dangers to pre-Islamic sites in Iran at present.


There are numerous other dangers to pre-Islamic sites in Iran – below are two other examples:


Tagh-e-Bostan site of Sassanian royalty and cavalry, Kermanshah province. Government railway project nearby (past the islet) threatens to damage site, including archway containing statue of late Sassanian cavalryman as well as statues of Anahita, Ahura-Mazda and Khosrow II. “Ignorance towards Tagh-e-Bostan Continues”, CHN News of Iran, June 24, 2006.


Bisotun, Kermanshah province. The construction of a petrochemical plant near Bisotun endangers the archaeological sites in that location. The Mohammd HassanYehbalam of Iran's Ministry for the Preservation of Iranian Archaeological sites ["Miras e Farhangi"] noted the following to news reporters in Iran on August, 28, 2000:

"The Ministry of Petroleum…deliberately built the petrochemical complex against the recommendations of the Miras e Farhangi Ministry…"

The critical state of archaeological sites in Iran has been discussed by Dr. Kamal Aldin Niknami of the University of Tehran's Department of Archaeology in the following article:

Niknami, K.A. (2005). Iran: archaeological heritage in crisis: developing an effective management system for archaeology. Journal of Cultural Heritage, Volume 5 (Issue 4), pp.345-350.

Note these excerpts from the article's abstract:

"The fact is that, as the international conventions warn, the archaeological heritage is constantly under threat of destruction…the destruction is on the increase. The constructions … expansion of the new settled areas threaten large areas of archaeological sites … a low degree of respect for the law, lead to an increase in looting and considerable damage to the archaeological heritage."


Just recently, in the second week of August of 2008, a hotel construction company bought bulldozers to carve out 10,000 square meters from the ancient site of Susa. This ancient site will now become the “Laleh Hotel”. The site however contains invaluable archaeological data dating to the late Parthian (248 BC-224 AD) and Sasanian (224-651 AD) eras. During the land clearing process Partho-Sassanian  relics, as well as a skeleton, were simply destroyed.  


The construction permit has been issued by Khuzestan Province’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO). Fortunately, Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei (head of ICHHTO) spoke to reporters in Tehran and assured that the company will be bought to justice.  For more information on the Susa case consult:


7000-year-old Shushan (Susa) damaged by hotel construction


Pics - what have we done to Susa!


There are numerous other recent examples of damage to pre-Islamic sites in Iran as reported by official sources inside of Iran:


Bulldozing Iran's 7000-year-old mound for brick production


Varamin's 7000-year-old Pardis Mound is being destroyed for brick production


6000-year-old Ray damaged by canal construction


There are also reports of damage to post-Islamic sites in Iran as well (as reported by official sources inside of Iran):


Farabi building damaged

Semnan's Safavid cistern (reservoir) demolished


It is difficult to explain why Lendering has made such a large and blatant mistake: he believes that reports of dangers to pre-Islamic archaeological sites in Iran (including the Tomb of Cyrus) are simply “hoaxes” and “sheer innuendo”. Lendering has made rapid authoritative statements without objectively examining the sources and the facts.  


Lendering’s lack of knowledge of dangers to archaeological sites in Iran is partly explained by a lack of appreciation of the very complex political climate of Iran today, in which a constant tug of war tales place between pan-Islamists (who often try to manipulate construction projects to destroy ancient sites) versus authorities and organizations in Iran who wish to preserve those sites. Included in this volatile mix, are miniscule separatist organizations with ties to political lobbies.


Unfortunately, Lendering’s views of Cyrus and his ignorance of the state of archaeological sites in Iran are but two of a multitude of distortions with respect to Iranica.