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Reconstruction of Kasubi Tombs

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The Kasubi Tombs in Kampala, Uganda, is the site of the burial grounds for four kabakas (kings of Buganda), and listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site.  In March 2010, fire destroyed a major part of the buildings. However, earlier this month, a little under two years later, UNESCO signed the Plan of Operation with the Government of Uganda for the project “Technical and financial assistance for the reconstruction of Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga, architectural masterpiece of the Tombs of Buganda Kings at Kasubi, Uganda, World Heritage property in Danger”.  The project is generously being supported through the Japanese Funds-in-Trust. The project aims to set up an efficient risk prevention scheme at the site, with all necessary equipment and support for the cost of qualified supervision for the reconstruction of the destroyed roof. The proposal was prepared as a result of the missions conducted to the property by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and the experts made available by the Government of Japan through the Japanese Funds-in-Trust for the Preservation of the World Cultural Heritage.   The site which was listed on the World Heritage List in 2001, includes four royal tombs within the Muzibu-Azaala-Mpanga, the main building, which is a masterpiece of Ganda traditional architecture. 

Vandalism at Tomb of Cyrus

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pasargad-nowruz1392-viraniOn the first day of the Iranian New Year, as it has become customary over the last few years, thousands of Iranian people gathered at the tomb of Cyrus. This year in an act of vandalism, one suspect (or persons) threw a hand grenade into the Tomb.  This vicious act structurally damaged the 2500 years old tomb, which is one of the world’s unique Cultural Heritage sites.

Unfortunately, the police officers on site and in the vicinity did not respond to the incident.

For several years, Iran’s historical and cultural heritage dated before Islam has suffered negligence by the Iranian Islamic government.

Another location is Pasargadae, a unique complex of historical and archeological sites in danger of destruction.

The Critical Condition of Iranian Mangroves

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Mangrove forest, Qeshm (photo: V. Schick)

Global commitment towards the conservation of biodiversity is of critical importance. The accelerating rates of loss of floral and faunal species and the projected negative impacts of this loss on humankind have been greatly described by many scientists.  Marine ecosystems are continuously in danger of extinction.  A great example of these disappearing and in danger ecosystems is the “Hara forests”.

The “Hara forests” is the common name for mangrove forests on the southern coast of Iran, particularly on and near the island of Qeshm in the Persian Gulf. Dominated by the species Avicennia marina, known locally as the “hara” or “harra” tree, the forests represent an important ecological resource. The “Hara Protected Area” on Quesm is a biosphere reserve where commercial use is restricted to fishing (mainly shrimp), tourist boat trips, and limited mangrove cutting for animal feed.  Hara forests are major habitats for migratory birds, reptiles, fish, arthropods and bivalves.

This area was recognized by the Man and the Biosphere program (MAB) of UNESCO in 1977 and then listed on the UNESCO’s national environmental heritage list in 2007.  However, the condition of Hara forests and the mangroves have continuously worsened and this great natural heritage site is greatly in danger of devastation.

Factors threatening or adversely impacting mangroves include:  industrial and shipping pollution, dumping of chemicals into the sea, excess mangrove cutting for animal feed, climate change,  lack of education on environmental issues and awareness about reproductive ecology, poor regulatory standards and laws, lack of proper attention by the local and governmental authorities, and road construction within the Nayband forests (which created a seawater connection this region) resulting in destroying part of the mangrove forests.

Pasargad Foundation Awards “Personality of the Year”

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The Pasargad Heritage Foundation Presents:

The Nowruz Award March 21, 2013.
This press release has been published by the Pasargad Hertage Foundation to the Personalities of the Year for their vision and efforts to preserve the national, cultural, historical, and natural heritage of Iran that also belongs to all humanity.

 

Esmail Kahrom

kahrom-esmailThe Personality of the Year 2012, for “Preservation of Environment and Natural Heritage”

Dr. Esmail Kahrom is a ecologist and an expert in natural heritage and environmental issues.He is chosen as the Personality of the Year 2012 in relation to:
– His  never-ending efforts for preservation of Iranian natural heritage and environment for many decades.
– His timely and non-opportunistic warnings about the endangerment of such heritage.
– His courageous encounters with the violators of natural and environmental heritage.
– His intelligent and scientific view of nature and its significance in human lives.
– His creative and compelling body of work in the field of a new and attractive literature in relation to the environment and the natural heritage that has inspired others with a sense of responsibility and enthusiasm.

Aligholi M. Bakhtiari

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The Personality of the Year 2012, in the field of “Cultural and Historical Heritage.

Dr. Aligholi Mahmoudi Bakhtiari is a historian, Iranologist, and an expert in ancient languages.

He is chosen as the personality of the year 2012 in relation to:

– His tireless efforts for preservation of Iranian intangible heritage for many decades.

– His extensive and vast studies in different fields of Iranian history, literature and mysticism.

– His teachings at  Iranian universities and other universities across the world on Iranian history and literature.

– His voluntary teaching and free classes for young people with the purpose of creating enthusiasm for learning about Iranian history and culture in them and encouraging the preservation of Iranian national treasures.

– His authorship and publication of a collection of outstanding books that are considered an  invaluable source for Iranian studies.

Diploma ….

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WCHV Exhibit Booth for Nowruz Festival at CSU Sacramento

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World Cultural Heritage Voices Organization held an exhibit booth at Nowrouz Festival event on March 17th at California State University Union in Sacramento. The booth featured a real-size replica of Cyrus Cylinder and pictures of several of Iranian Cultural and Historical Buildings.

Nowrouz Festival is an annual celebration event that is set up by various organizations at CSUS in Sacramento and is well attended by the Iranian American community of Sacramento.

 

Sacramento-Nowruz-3The event features traditional costumes, music, dance and food to celebrate Nowruz as well as communicatin of Nowruz Heritage and history to the community. The booth was visited by many attendees who were curious about the mission of the organization.

 

 

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Ms. Lillee Mozaffari and Ms. Deniz Hazegh, two members of WCHV’s Board of Trustees, shown here greeting attendees at the event and displaying the replica of the Cyrus Cylinder.

 

Year 1392: Year of Action Against Discrimination

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The below press release has been published by the Pasargad Hertage Foundation which traditionally
chooses and announces a new name and dedication at the beginning of every Iranian New Year.
The Pasargad Foundation is the first international NGO which was established in 2006 and focuses on
preservation of Iranian Cultural Heritage
.

Year 1392

“The Year of Action against Discrimination in Cultural Heritage

 

Translation by Lilly Mozafari (WCHV)

At the end of every year, the Pasargad Heritage Foundation looks back, reflecting on the past events and then looks towards the New Year with hope and promise, traditionally choosing a name for the new year.

To stay true to this tradition, at this time of the dawn of the Iranian New Year, the Foundation has chosen a name for this coming New Year.

As always, this choice has been made in the spirit of stewardship and preservation of Iranian cultural and historical heritage; the choice was also made in the light of the current events placing this national and international heritage in danger.

The recent events demonstrate that the historical and cultural treasures of Iran are subject to religious and political discrimination. Therefore, in order to attract the attention of all those who love culture and are interested in protecting historical and cultural heritage of Iran and the rest of the world, would like to stop these illegal practices, we named the year 1392 “The Year of Action against Discrimination in Cultural Heritage”.

The recent news broadcasted in Iranian media, which is largely controlled by the government, indicate that the Department of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of the Islamic Republic gives most of its attention and resources to preserving only one segment of historical heritage, while ignoring and neglecting the others that are in a dire need of restoration or in danger of complete destruction. This is happening despite the fact that the Department is responsible for preservation and protection of all historical and cultural heritage of the country.

For example, last year while a considerable amount of the Department’s funds was allocated to the restoration of numerous historical and semi-historical mosques and shrines all over the country, hundreds of national cultural and historical treasures, as well as those belonging to religions other than Islam, that are currently turning into ruins, have been ignored and left unattended. The Department attributes this systematic neglect of the national treasures to the lack of funds. On the other hand, the Department along with the Department of Records, continuously pressures the business communities in various cities to contribute funds to the Islamic sites, and by destroying national historic sites opens up more room for the newly constructed religious sites.

It is important to note that the laws related to preservation of natural, historical and cultural heritage presented in the United Nations and UNESCO conventions that are accepted by most nations including Iran, emphasize this point: “All historical and ancient structures, all historical artifacts of architecture, sculptures, paintings and scripts and all work that has unique historical, artistic and scientific value, whether national or international, must be preserved and protected by all consenting governments. Nowhere in these conventions has it been stated that certain treasures should be considered more important that others due to religious, political or any other arbitrary reason.

The international laws aside, it is unfortunate that such discriminating behavior toward cultural heritage is happening in the land of the people who since thousands of years ago not only have been respectful of various cultures and religions, but also helped in their preservation, as is evidenced by such historical documents as Cyrus Cylinder.

The Pasargad Heritage Foundation, at this time of the dawn of the greatest and most significant celebration event of Iranian people, while extending the New Year greetings to all, respectfully asks of all those who love and support culture and arts to spread the word and inform as many people as possible of the need to “preserve, without discrimination” all cultural and historical treasures. The Foundation also asks that when discrimination in preservation of cultural heritage is witnessed or observed that it be reported directly to the appropriate international organizations.

The Pasargad Heritage Foundation has been reporting continuously to the United Nations, UNESCO and other similar organization of all political or religious motivated discrimination in preserving cultural heritage.

 

With kind regards,

ShokoohMirzadegi

On behalf of the Pasargad Heritage Foundation

A New Theory for the Origins of Stonehenge

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Archaeologists have argued for centuries about what Stonehenge really meant and why it was built.  A team of British researchers from a number of universities including universities of Southampton, Manchester, Bournemouth, Sheffield, London, York and Durham presented new theories about the origins and purpose of Stonehenge earlier this month: It may have started as a giant burial ground for elite families around 3,000 B.C.  This group of academics who have done extensive research, propose that that Stonehenge should be seen less a temple of worship than a kind of building project that served to unite people from across Britain.  They also believe that the builders converged seasonally to build Stonehenge, a ritual that was likely done over several years.

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Researchers studied more than 50,000 cremated bone fragments excavated from the site and suggest that about 500 years before the Stonehenge we know today was built, a larger stone circle was erected at the same site as a community graveyard.  The archeologists studied the cremated bones of 63 individuals, and believe that they were buried around 3,000 B.C.  Analysis of the remains of a settlement near the monument indicated that thousands of people traveled from as far as Scotland to the site, bringing their livestock and then slaughtering them in nearby site during the winter and summer solstices celebrations.

According to the Guardian newspaper, this autumn visitors to Stonehenge will see more interpretation of its complex history when the new visitor center finally opens.

Soltanieh Dome’s Deteriorating Condition

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Soltanieh Dome

Zanjan’s Soltanieh Dome which is about 54 meters high and is about 700 years old has a very unique mosaic and brick design and architecture.  This dome is the third biggest dome in the world after Santa Maria Del Fiore church’s dome in Florence, Italy, and Hagia Sophia mosque’s dome in Turkey.  Soltanieh Dome was listed as a UNESCO national heritage site by UNESCO in 2005.  However, this heritage site is now facing a number of architectural problems including deep cracks, chipping of mosaic tiles, discoloration of frescos.  In addition, it looks like water has been getting into the building through the cracks in the structure.  This historical dome like many other historical sites in Iran is suffering from wrong repair methodology and upkeep as well as absence of technical expertise in preservation of these sites. This has resulted in the dome to become heavier in weight and has changed in shape and it now looks very different from the original design.  The latest problems that this site faces are the residential buildings which have been built in the vicinity and close proximity of this national heritage site.  This situation could soon result in UNESCO’s re-listing the site as an in-danger heritage site. 

Built Heritage 2013: Monitoring Conservation Management

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In November 2013, an international conference will be held in Milan, Italy, focusing on bringing together different professionals to discuss significant conservation projects and safeguarding architectural heritage around the world.  The Built Heritage Conference will offer an opportunity for brain-storming and exchange, where important case studies will be discussed and will offer an overview of strategies, cutting-edge technologies, conservation practice, and protection.  Speakers have been invited from across a number of countries including Italy, Greece, and the United of States of America.

For more information visit: http://www.bh2013.polimi.it/index.htm