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Happy Anniversary to the “Committee” that Saved Pasargad

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tazahorat-sad-sivandPasargad is a UNESCO recognized historical world heritage site. The Pasargad complex contains the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great, the founder and the ruler of the Persian Empire. The decree of the Cyrus’s Cylinder was issued by the Persian Emperor, which has been recognized by the United Nations as the first Human Rights Charter.

In August 2004, Pasargad complex and the adjacent historical sites were endangered due jonbesh-farhangi1to construction of a nearby dam. In response, thousands of individuals including many artists, writer, intellectuals and human right activist from all over the world, initiated the creation of The Committee for Saving Pasargad. The Committee was successful in slowing the completion of the dam with the help of many supporters of the committee, thus saving many important sites including the Pasargad complex. However, the Bolaghi Gorge and its adjacent plain which was the site of ancient factories, palaces and houses, together with many artifacts were submerged and destroyed. 

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Aborigines Ask to be included in Australia’s Heritage

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As recently reported Aborigines have claimed that Australia’s cultural heritage recognition has been greatly dominated by the country’s colonial past.  Earlier this year, UNESCO recognized and designated a number of sites in Australia as “outstanding universal value”.  Among the sites added to the World Heritage List this year are Sydney’s 19th century Hyde Park Barracks and Tasmania’s Port Arthur penal settlement.

The move has actually outraged Aboriginal activists, who have claimed that their own cultural heritage is in danger of being destroyed since the sites are also in need of protection and that very few of their sites have been nominated by the Australian government.  The activists also claim that this suggests a strong ethnocentric bias towards everything Anglo-Saxon and a prejudice or ignorance about the Aboriginal past and a lack of understanding of its value to the county’s history.

It has also been reported that Aborigines representatives wrote to UNESCO calling on it to deny approval to the “white Australian sites” while the country’s indigenous heritage was in danger of extinction.  But, when UNESCO released the list, it said that the sites were the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labor of prisoners and that they deserved to be conserved while sites like 20,000-year-old rock art in the Northern Territory, a recently-discovered treasure trove of ancient artifacts outside Hobart and scarred trees in New South Wales, which were used by indigenous tribes during coming of age ceremonies have not been recognized or listed.

Australia’s activists believe that the lack of Aboriginal sites on the list could be blamed on the fact that there were no indigenous members of Parliaments (MPs) in federal parliament and no indigenous people on the board that decides on the country’s UNESCO nominations as reported by the Telegraph.

Maya Carvings Found in Guatemala

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When Maya archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team accidentally found an enormous frieze which measures nearly 26 feet by 7 feet in a tunnel in Guatemala, they realized that they had found one of the best preserved examples of its kind.  The looters had come close to it but had not seen it. The frieze which was discovered last month (July 2013) in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul is so amazingly preserved that only a small corner of it shows any damage.  In fact, despite being mostly faded away now, traces of red, blue, green, and yellow paint are still visible on the frieze.

As described in The National Geographic Magazine the section of the temple at Holmul where the frieze was found dates back to about A.D. 590, which corresponds to the Maya classical era, a period defined by the power struggles between two major Maya dynasties: Tikal and Kaanul.  The two kingdoms competed with one another for resources and for control of other, smaller Maya city-states. An inscription on the newly discovered frieze reveals that the temple was commissioned by Ajwosaj, ruler of a neighboring city-state called Naranjo, which archaeologists know from other discoveries was a vassal city of the Kaanul kingdom.

The excavations at Holmul were supported by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program and the findings were reported in the National Geographic magazine.

The Cyrus the Great Symphonic Suite Honors Cyrus Cylinder Visit

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One of the most iconic objects from the ancient world, the Cyrus Cylinder is widely considered a symbol of multiculturalism, tolerance, and human rights. Cyrus the Great, founder of the expansive Persian Achaemenid dynasty, had the Cylinder created to formally mark the establishment of Persian rule over Babylon in 539 BCE.

 This year, the Cylinder began its first tour of the United States, and it will be on view at the Asian Art Museum along with a number of related objects from ancient Persia. Asia Society Northern California is pleased to partner with the Asian Art Museum on the exhibition’s opening day of August to host a panel discussion on the Cylinder’s historical context.

 LorisTo honor the Cylinder’s visit to the city of San Francisco, Maestro Loris Tjeknavorian conducted The Cyrus the Great Symphonic Suite during its visit to the city.   Mr. Tjeknavorian composed the first version of King Cyrus Symphonic Suite in 1972 for the 2500th anniversary celebration of the Iranian empire.  It was performed in the presence of kings, queens and heads of state from across the world at the ancient Persian city of Persepolis.  A few years ago, he revised and expanded the composition into a symphonic suite in three movements portraying important episodes in the life of Cyrus the Great based on the writings of Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon.

 Additional photos contributed by Deniz Hazegh:

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Looting of Ancient Treasures in Egypt

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APTOPIX Mideast EgyptAs reported in a number of international news agencies many demonstrators have looted and damaged the ancient Egyptian statues in the upper Egyptian city of Al-Minya as well as over thousands of treasured historical artifacts in the museums. One of these looted sites has been the Malawi National Museum.  In fact, it has been reported that the statutes that were too heavy to carry out of the museum were deliberately damaged or destroyed.

UNESCO has now stated that it will put all the stolen artifacts on its Red List to prevent illegal trading of the antiquities in the international market.  It has also been reported that Muslim Brotherhood supporters allegedly broke into the Malawi museum following the crackdown by security forces on two protest camps near the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo . The mosque was also completely destroyed.

Ancient Church Found in Denizli, Turkey

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As recently reported by Anadolu Agency, a church which is believed to date back 1,500 years was discovered in the ancient city of Tripolis in the Aegean province of Denizli’s Buldan district.

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Pamukkale University has been working on the archaeological excavations over the last two years. The university is located in the Lycian city of Tripolis, which was located at the junction point of Phrygia, Karia and Lydia in the Hellenistic period. The city was surrounded with walls in the early Roman period.

In fact, one of the most intriguing facts is that the georadar technology which is now used in many archeological excavations, revealed a marketplace in good condition last year. Then earlier this year during excavations next to the marketplace, the church was found. The church which is in good condition except for the roof, has been cleaned and its roof will be covered with wooden materials ( just like the original roof) before being opened to visitors and tourists

Mayan Pyramid Destroyed in Belize

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One of the biggest Mayan pyramids in Belize has been all but destroyed by ‘ignorant’ builders who ravaged the ancient structure for crushed rock to fill in a new road.
The construction workers used bulldozers and diggers to claw at the sloping sides of the 100ft tall pyramid, which is part of the Nohmul complex – the most important Mayan site in northern Belize and one which dates back at least 2,300 years.