Experts to survey railroad threat to Naqsh-e Rustam

September 11, 2007

TEHRAN -- Threats from a railway route that could pass close to the Achaemenid site of Naqsh-e Rustam are scheduled to be surveyed during a seminar entitled “Naqsh-e Rustam in Danger” at the University of Tehran (UT) today.

A group of experts including Kamyar Abdi, Mehrdad Malekzadeh, Mohammad-Taqi Ataii, and Mohammad-Taqi Rahnama will deliver lectures in the one-day colloquium, which will be sponsored by UT’s Basic Science Faculty and an Iranian archaeological society.
The railway embankment has been constructed at a distance of about 350 meters from Naqsh-e Rustam, spoiling the landscape of the ancient site, which is located in southern Iran’s Fars Province.
Experts have said that if the railroad were to become operational, train vibrations would eventually damage the Naqsh-e Rustam monument and would cause the destruction of Zoroaster’s Kaba in less than ten years.
In December 2006, the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) and cultural heritage enthusiasts finally convinced the Ministry of Road and Transportation to alter the railway route. However the extent of the modification has not satisfied the CHTHO or the cultural heritage enthusiasts.
The modification would place the route at a distance of 500 meters from the Naqsh-e Rustam site.
The railway route is located exactly on the perimeter demarcated by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee and experts believe the railroad will cause serious problems for this important archaeological area and will trigger protests from the committee.
In addition, the railroad project may affect the registration of Naqsh-e Rustam on the auxiliary list of the UNESCO Persepolis dossier.
A few years ago, the CHTHO asked UNESCO to add Naqsh-e Rustam to the Persepolis dossier, which is on the World Heritage List.
Naqsh-e Rustam is important since the tombs of Achaemenid kings including Darius I and Xerxes I have been carved into the solid rock of Mt. Hossein in that region. The site also contains remnants dating back to the Elamite and Sassanid eras.