Zoroaster’s Kaba: A Potential Victim of Railway Construction


December 24, 2006

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Studies on the map of a railway which is planned to pass close to the historic site of Naqsh-e Rostam in Fars province show that it would for sure result in destruction of Achaemenid monument of Zoroaster’s Kaba in less than ten years.

Tehran, 29 November 2006 (CHN) — Further studies on the map of a railway under construction in Fars province left no doubt that the Achaemenid monument known as Zoroaster’s Kaba will collapse in less than ten years if the path of the railway is not changed.

Zoroaster’s Kaba is a cuboid building located beside the Achaemenid monument of Naqsh-e Rostam just a few kilometers from the world heritage site of Persepolis.

Recently the news about construction of a railway which is to pass close to the historic site of Naqsh-e Rostan evoked many concerns. Based on the current plan, the railway is due to be constructed at 350-kilometer distance of Naqsh-e Rostam historical site. Experts believe that the project would not only destroy the historic monuments and bas-reliefs of the region and vulgarize the cultural landscape of Naqsh-e Rostam, it could also remove the historic site of Persepolis from UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The Iranian cultural heritage experts have several times warned the authorities of Iran’s Road and Transportation Organization about the negative consequences of this project. This is while all this chaos could have been prevented only if the railway was constructed twice farther than its current location.

According to one of the experts of Parse-Pasargadae Research Center, the severe vibrations created by the trains going at higher speeds could result in irrecoverable damage to Zoroaster’s Kaba in less than a decade. Experts of Parse-Pasargadae Research Center are now studying a number of different ways to prevent such cultural heritage catastrophe.

There are various theories on the original purpose of Zoroaster’s Kaba. Some believe it was a place where the Zoroastrians’ sacred fire was kept burning eternally while others say that the monument is the tomb of Smerdis, son of founder of Achaemenid dynasty, Cyrus the Great (549-486 BC), who according to Greek sources was murdered by his brother Cambyses.

Zoroaster’s Kaba bears a Sassanid era inscription explaining the historical events during the reign of the Sassanid Emperor Shapur I (241-272 AD). The trilingual inscription, written in the Sassanid and Parthian dialects of Middle Persian and ancient Greek, describes the war between Persia and Rome in which Shapur I defeated the Roman emperor Valerian, who was captured in 260 AD and died in captivity.

Naqsh-e Rostam contains seven tombs which belong to Achaemenid kings, one of which is expressly declared in its inscription to be the tomb of Darius the Great. The three other tombs besides that of Darius are believed to belong to Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. There are also seven gigantic rock carvings in Naqsh-e Rostam right below the tombs which are dated to the Sassanid dynastic era (224-651 AD).

The historic site of Naqshe Rostam has been put up by Iran to be inscribed in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. However, should the railway construction resume in the vicinity of this ancient site, Naqsh-e Rostam will permanently lose its chance for world registration.

Original article here