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

UK hospital accused of selling body parts for booze
2014 07 31
A leading cancer hospital is to be investigated following allegations that one of its staff members exchanged human body samples for whisky and cash. The calls to investigate Christies NHS foundation trust came after the accusation was made by an anonymous whistleblower, prompting British MP Rosie Cooper to contact the watchdog, the Human Tissue Authority (HTA), the Manchester Evening News reports. British ...
15 dead, over 220 injured as multiple gas explosions hit Taiwan city
2014 07 31
Several blasts have ripped through Kaohsiung, a city in south-western Taiwan, killing 15, injuring over 220 and overturning the cars in the street, the Fire Agency said. The cause is thought to be gas leaks in the sewage system. The number of those injured is expected to rise, the Fire Department said. Many were also taken to schools across the city ...
TYPOGRAPHICAL ERROR on front page of alleged U.S. criteria for terrorist list
2014 07 31
We highlighted the recent report from Glenn Greenwald’s site, The Intercept, about the United States administration’s ’Terror Watch List’, and how "a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database". Read: BLACKLISTED: The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist A reader with a sharp ...
Why is the State so obsessed by, and careless with, deadly pathogens?
2014 07 31
Earlier this month, we ran a report on the CDC anthrax blunder. As if that weren’t bad enough, there have been additional exposures since we posted that report. This time, it involved the shipment of live, highly contagious, and deadly H5N1 avian influenza samples. As previously reported, as many as 841 scientists and staff members at a US Centers for Disease ...
‘Catastrophic’: Hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer warns of EMP
2014 07 31
Imminent: ‘Only a matter of time’ until entire electric grid destroyed by natural or man-made event… Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer is warning investors – and more broadly, lawmakers and leaders – about the potential destructive power of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, which could be triggered by solar events or artificially, via blasts in the atmosphere. According to Singer, research ...
More News »