Iran's priceless antiquities lie in line of fire
2007 03 06

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
-priceless-antiquities-lie-in-line-of-
fire/2007/03/05/1172943356478.html



Related Articles
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

France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms
2014 08 22
President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad “a few months ago.” The deliveries took place “a few months ago, when the Syrian rebels had to face both the armies of the dictator Bashar al-Assad and this terrorist group Islamic State,” Hollande told reporters on a tour of the ...
Brooklyn DA exposes hidden Child Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community
2014 08 22
Comment: We all know that the sex abuse cases within the Catholic church have been plastered all over the media in the last 6-8 years, but when do you ever hear about the rapes, sexual molestation and child sex abuse cases within the jewish orthodox community? Is the media helping to cover it? Will they give the same treatment of ...
California’s Economic Collision Course: Immigration and Water
2014 08 22
You have heard it before: “As California goes, so goes the nation.” If that is the case, the national economy will be harmed for decades to come because of California’s misplaced priorities today. Indeed, by emphasizing high-speed rail over water and failing to deal with its debt crisis, California poses a long-term threat to our national economy and ...
ISIS offered to swap Foley for ’Lady Al Qaeda’ - neuroscientist MIT-graduate
2014 08 21
An MIT-educated neuroscientist terrorist known as ’Lady al Qaeda’ was named on a ’laundry list’ of demands from ISIS captors holding James Foley named, it was revealed today. Petite mother-of-three Aafia Siddiqui is currently serving 86 years in a Texas jail after being arrested with plans for a ’mass casualty attack’ in the US, including infecting people with Ebola and a ...
James Foley beheaded - Financed by USA
2014 08 21
John McCain is a traitorous piece of garbage. Last year McCain worked with the "Syrian Emergency Task Force" to help overthrow the Syrian government. Investigative work (see the detailed article below) revealed that this task force was just a front organization for AIPAC. McCain met with known terrorists, including the infamous al-Qaeda. Yeah, the terrorist organization that was behind 9/11 received aid ...
More News »