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73 Million Year Old Fossil Discovered

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runak-gravandiAccording to a report from Azad University of Kermanshah, Runak Gravandi, a doctorate student and a member of geology department, has succeeded in discovering a kind of 73-million-year old fossil, in the neighborhood of Kermanshah (Western part of Iran)

 
Runak Gravandi, while commenting on her discovery, said, “ While executing scientific research in the areas near Kermanshah I discovered a few sample of coral fossils, as well as some non-coral ones.” She acknowledged, “In order to validate this discovery, I contacted Professor Mohammad al-Jamil, a famous geologist at Cairo University. After examining the samples and the relevancy of information about them, he agreed that the fossils are 73 million years showing that Kermanshah was a part of a shallow see during that period.”

Persepolis is in danger

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Persepolis Erosion 1Persepolis is in danger of extinction.* 

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Pictures by: Farzad Aryan

Due to the intentional negligence of the authorities with no attempt to stop the natural wear and tear of the site, Persepolis is eroding rapidly.

Newest pictures show how humidity and the growing lichens are threatening the ancient bas-reliefs.

*Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire (ca. 550–330 BCE). Persepolis is situated 70 km northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. The earliest remains of Persepolis date from around 515 BCE. UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

(Click on the photo to see a close up of the damage)

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An on-going intentional negligence

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An official report by the IRI Cultural Heritage News Agency clearly shows that there is an intentional policy not to pay any attention to the ancient sites belonging to the pre-Islamic era of Iranian history. It has been almost three decades since the Islamic Revolution of 1978 and such sites have been left to natural wear and tear and human-caused destruction mostly by religious zealots and un-scientific operations under the banner of “development”.
Every year, by the arrival of winter, Persepolis, the most important and worldly-known ancient sites of Iran, as well as other outstanding sites, suffer from more natural and human-caused destruction. The unprotected stone structures are exposed to rain and snow and many of them clearly show signs of fatigue and obliteration.
The report emphasizes that, against all the protests and advice of the experts, and after 33 years of Persepolis having been registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, nothing has been done to stop the deterioration of the structure. The same situation applies to Pasargad, the capital of Cyrus the Great and where his mausoleum is situated. This site was recognized as a World Heritage site 8 years ago and it has been exactly during this time-frame that a dam has been erected and operational near the site, with its obvious consequences.
The two ancient sites used to be a center of attraction for tourists from all over the world before the Islamic revolution. But since then, all tourist facilities are removed and even those who go for a visit despite the harsh political treatments find no usable facility.

 

The sad situation of Arc of the Garden (Tagh-e-Bostan) in Iran

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Tagh-e-Bostan is a magnificent site of ancient history in the western Iranian plateau. Reza Kamali from Tehran reports that 7 years ago, immediately after the advent of a popular movement to apply for the recognition of the site by the UNESCO as a World Heritage, a series of unexpected operations began to happen in and on the vicinity of this site with the clear aim of its destruction and stopping such recognition.

All sorts of so-called “development projects” were introduce, including the construction of a rail-road and erecting a large dome on a near by religious site that altered the whole scenery of Tagh-e-Bostan eliminating the chances of the site to be recognized as a World heritage.

Keeping the main parts of the site exposed to natural elements was another neglecting policy.

When finally last year the Cultural Heritage Organization declared that it has decided to apply to UNESCO and intends to “prepare” the site for that reason, it turned the whole site into a construction site and brought in machinery and untrained work force – a situation that resembled a mining operation rather than repairing an ancient site. Then the surprising part of the story was the revealed. The Organization declared it never had the intention of sending the Tagh-e-Bostan file to UNESCO.

Immediately all the previous reports and news items relevant to Tagh-e-Bostan was removed from the Internet sites controlled by the government.

The devastation inflicted on Tagh-e-Bostan is so extensive that even if an authority would decide to apply for recognition by the UNESCO, it will not pass the criteria used to select a site for that purpose.

 

 

Christmas & Yaldâ

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By: Zia Fatherazi

Mithraism (the worship of the Persian Sun-God Mithra) was introduced to Rome during the first Century BC. It spread throughout the Empire and many Mithraic temples were built in Italy and other countries controlled by Rome.  

The main festivity of Mithraism was the night of the winter solstice (longest night of the year), celebrating the assumed birth of Mithra, A popular festival which was observed throughout the Empire. 

In 312, Constantine the Great invaded Italy and moved to Rome. Having had a vision of the Cross-against the sun, on the eve of his victory, he became a supporter of the Christianity. In 313, he issued the Edict of Milan granting freedom and equality of religions in the Empire. He also recommended that the Christians should celebrate Christ’s Birth on the same day as that of Mithra’s since they also considered Christ to be “Light of the World”. Some conservative Christians didn’t agree and the Orthodox Church like the Armenians celebrate only the 6th of January, the Epiphany day. In addition, Constantine changed the holy day of the week from the Judaic Sabbath to Sunday. 

According to the Julian calendar (devised in 46 BC) at the time, the Vernal Equinox fell on March 25 and the Winter Solstice coincided with December 25. Christmas and Mithra’s birth were therefore celebrated on December 25.  The first Christian Council held in Nicaea in 325 decided to set March 21 as the date for Vernal Equinox on the ground of calendar inaccuracies and its lag of 4 days. As a result the Winter Solstice was moved to December 21 but the Council didn’t change the date of Christmas.

During the following years, Christianity was declared as the official religion of the Empire and in 391 Pagan worship was prohibited. All Mithraic temples were destroyed and there remained not a single prayer book or document that could explain their rites, beliefs and traditions. 

Very much like the Halloween celebrations in the United States, most Iranians celebrate the Winter Solstice on the evening of December 21 as the eve of Yaldâ (Birth) – a traditional festival without reference to its origin. 

 

“Cylinder” of Cyrus the Great goes on exhibition on major US cities.

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According to a report by British Museum, upon an agreement between Cultural centers and museums in the US, the “Cylinder” of Cyrus the Great will be available for viewing in exhibitions in Washington DC, Houston, New York City, San Francisco and LA.
This is the first time that Americans can see this important artifact on their soil, though a replica of the Cylinder is permanently on exhibit in UN building in New York City.

The name of the exhibition is “Cyrus Cylinder in ancient Pars” and it also includes sixteen other artifacts of historical importance. The exhibit is meant to show the contribution of Iranians during the reign of Achmenians in the Middle and Near East from 550 BC onwards.

Egyptian Jihad calls for Destruction of Sphinx and Pyramids

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By Al Arabiya

An Egyptian jihad leader, with self-professed links to the Taliban, called for
the “destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt,” drawing ties between the Egyptian relics and Buddha statues, local media reported this week.

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”

“All Muslims are charged with applying the teachings of Islam to remove such idols, as we did in Afghanistan when we destroyed the Buddha statues,” he said on Saturday during a television interview on an Egyptian private channel, widely watched by Egyptian and Arab audiences.

“God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols,” he added. “When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do.”

His comments came a day after thousands of ultraconservative Islamists gathered in Tahrir Square to call for the strict application of Sharia law in the new constitution.

But in retaliation to Gohary’s remarks, the vice president of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called the live program and told Gohary that famous historic military commander Amr ibn al-Aas did not destroy statues when he conquered Egypt.

“So who are you to do it?” he wondered. “The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshiped them, but the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.”

Gohary, 50, is well-known in Egypt for his advocacy of violence, Egypt Independent reported.

“He was sentenced twice, one of the two sentences being life imprisonment. He subsequently fled Egypt to Afghanistan, where he was badly injured in the American invasion. In 2007, he traveled from Pakistan to Syria, which then handed him over to Egypt. After Mubarak’s fall in early 2011, he was released from prison by a judicial ruling,” the newspaper added.

In recent months, fears have surfaced that the ultra-conservative Salafi political powers may soon wish to debate new guidelines over Egyptian antiquities.

Islamists have swept the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in the country’s post-revolutionary stage, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists rising to political power.

“The fundamental Salafis have demanded to cover Pharaonic statues, because they regard them to be idols,” Egyptian author on ancient history Ahmed Osman told Al Arabiya English, explaining that Salafi Muslims follow conservative religious principles which view statues and sculptures as prohibited in Islam.

“But so far the government has done nothing to indicate what is the future of Egyptian antiquities,” adds Osman.

Many hope that Egypt’s new President Mohammed Mursi will help usher better preservation of Egypt’s proud cultural heritage. Egyptian officials have recently announced the country will reveal more of its ancient buried treasures.

The tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of Khufu, of Great Pyramid fame, is set to be opened to tourists later this year, with the last resting places of five high priests also slated to be put on show.

Officials are also believed to be reopening the underground Serapeum temple at Sakkara, to the south of Cairo.

Forests on the verge of destruction

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The eye-catching forests in the north part of Iran that are considered a part of World Natural Heritage are in a sad situation. In addition to the operation of wood smugglers, the governmental departments and especially the National Forestry Office are systematically engaged in issuing new permits for cutting trees without paying any attention to the concerns of forestry experts. On November 22, 2011, in an interview with Fars News Agency that is run by the Iranian government, Mr. Peyman Yusefi-Azar, a member of the governing body of the Scientific Society for Iran’s Forestry said: “At the moment the number of permits issued for cutting the trees is 5 times more than the number of trees that are planted. This means that there is no way to compensate the loss of trees and practically we will lose our forest within the next ten years.

 

 

Plunder of Historical Artifacts in Yazd – Iran

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By: Reza Kamali – Iran

Translation Anahid Amin

There has been a rumor for sometime about the plunder of ancient artifacts in Yazd, Iran, excavated by people who are equipped with proper tools. Following the spread of this rumor,  Bahram Rezaei, director of Cultural Heritage Office in Yazd, has denied the news by saying that: “The people responsible for the destruction of 5 to 10 thousand year old bas-reliefs in Ardakan, a city in Yazd province, and the Hossein-Abad village were most likely searching for mines and did not intend to excavate for antiques”. He also has said that the heavy machinery and tools used are also related to mining. Although mines are legally considered public property and those searching for mines should obtain license for this purpose, no one knows that how this operation has happened. Rezaei claims that an investigation has begun since October. He has added that the number of bas-reliefs are 12 and 6 of them have been found intact since the beginning of this investigation. There is no explanation for how his Office has come to know that the total number is 12.  Local people report that there are many broken and scattered stones after the excavators left the area. They say that there have probably been many artifacts that are now unavailable.