Iran's priceless antiquities lie in line of fire
By Maev Kennedy | smh.com.au
In his quiet office at the British Museum in London, among portraits of dead explorers and 3000-year-old inscriptions, one of the greatest experts on the archaeology of the Middle East has a series of maps of Iranian nuclear installations spread out across his desk.
John Curtis's maps fill him with foreboding: because they show how many of Iran's nuclear plants are perilously close to ancient cultural sites.
Natanz, home to a uranium enrichment plant, is renowned for its exquisite ceramics; Isfahan, home to a uranium conversion plant, is also a UNESCO world heritage site and was regarded in the 16th century as the most beautiful city on earth.
Other nuclear installations lie close to Shiraz, dubbed "the city of roses and nightingales" and famous for the tombs of medieval poets; Persepolis, the great palace of King Darius, whose ruins are still magnificent; and the tomb of Cyrus the Great, the Persian ruler said to have been buried in a coffin of gold.
Four years ago Dr Curtis warned that war in Iraq would be a disaster for some of the oldest and most important sites in the world. He has since seen his worst fears confirmed: the site of ancient Babylon became a US military base; thousands of objects are missing from the national museum in Baghdad; and looted artefacts have been illicitly excavated and smuggled out of the country.
Now Dr Curtis dreads seeing history repeated, this time from the escalating threat from the US against Iran. "Any kind of military activity whatever in Iran, whether aerial bombing or land invasion, would inevitably have the gravest consequences, not only for its people but for its cultural heritage, which should be a matter of concern not just to Iranians but to the whole world," he said.
"The main nuclear bases would seem the most likely targets, which would directly threaten two major sites, Isfahan and Natanz." The medieval splendour of those cities, at the height of the power of Islamic Persia from the 13th to the 17th centuries, was built on a cultural history which was already thousands of years old.
The history of cities, of writing, of engineering and astronomy began in the ancient centres of Iran and Iraq. "The archaeology is so rich there is almost nowhere that you could say is devoid of interest," Dr Curtis said. "But certainly a list must be compiled of the sites which need the most consideration."
Unlike the looted and still shuttered national museum in Baghdad, in Iran the risk is considered less for the national museum in Tehran than for hundreds of major sites with standing buildings and ruins, and thousands of known but unexcavated sites.
Some of the structures are in stone, but most are in baked brick with elaborate tile decorations, a building type particularly vulnerable to blast damage.
Apart from Isfahan and Natanz, other potentially vulnerable sites cover 3000 years of the world's history.
Professor Harriet Crawford, of the Institute of Archaeology in London, said: "An attack on Iran would not only cause thousands more avoidable deaths, but would also risk inflicting untold damage on its heritage, comparable with that seen in Iraq."
Article from: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/irans
Why is the US press silent on Brzezinski’s warnings of war against Iran?
Snakemen Stone Reliefs Discovered in Jiroft, Iran
War-Gamming The Upcoming Iran War
War Summit - Bush, Sharon Meet To Plan Iran Attack
The Mohammed Cartoons - Recruiting Europe For Bush's War On Iran
Preview of World War Three
As America Sleeps, The Strausscon Plan For Iran Is On Schedule
High-Ranking Military Officer Warns Of Major Terrorist Attack Looming; Cheney Consumed Day And Night With Nuclear Retaliation In Iran
Latest News from our Front Page
The Josh Duggar Incident Reveals The Tactics And Hypocrisy of SJWs
Last week, In Touch Weekly broke the news that Josh Duggar, eldest son of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar from TLCâ€™s 19 Kids and Counting, had molested five under-aged girls in 2002 and 2003. Josh, who was 14 at the time, was accused of fondling his victims, touching their breasts and genitals while they slept.
A police report was released shortly ...
15 More Men of South Asian Descent Charged With Child Sex Offences
Police in Keighley, West Yorkshire have charged 14 men and a 16-year-old boy with sex offences including the rape of a girl under the age of 16. The offences relate primarily to one female victim, with one allegation involving a second who was also under 16 at the time.
The offences are alleged to have occurred between 2011 and 2012. In ...
Anti-Semitic fliers left on Chevy Chase driveways
Five streets in Chevy Chase, Md., were papered with anti-Semitic fliers on Wednesday morning.
Montgomery County police are looking for the person or people who left the hate-filled leaflets on almost every driveway on the streets.
â€śThis is very disturbing. My community is definitely disturbed,â€ť said Jean Sperling, the village manager of Martinâ€™s Additions, the community where the fliers were found. Sperling ...
German court says ex-SS officer unfit for trial
Prosecutors in the northern German city of Hamburg have dropped their probe into a 93-year-old former Nazi SS officer. Gerhard Sommer, who suffers from dementia, allegedly took part in a World War II massacre in Italy.
Gerhard Sommer, a former company commander of a mechanized infantry division, had been accused of participating in the mass murder of 560 civilians by Nazi ...
The Age of Disinformation
I have been a professional meteorologist for 36 years. Since my debut on television in 1979, I have been an eyewitness to the many changes in technology, society, and how we communicate. I am one who embraces change, and celebrates the higher quality of life we enjoy now thanks to this progress.
But, at the same time, I realize the instant ...
|More News » |