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Sharing the same anxiety
From a veteran archaeologist


Hamed Vahdati Nasab
Translated by Esmail Nooriala
September 9, 2005
Persian text

In response to Touraj Daryaee's "Safe & sound" and "Drowning in noise" .

Dear Dr. Daryaee,

I am a former Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO) official and currently a fellow at the Institute of Human Origins in Arizona State University. I just read your response to Ms. Mirzadegi and Dr. Nooriala about Pasargad [Not expendable]. While I am receiving some news from ICHO which support your opinion about Pasargad, there are some very worrying issues about the 100 prehistoric and historic sites at Tange-Belaghi.

As you have mentioned since the revolution this is the first collaborative rescue effort to save archaeological sites at this area. I am familiar with your research and there is no question in my mind that you are an expert archaeologist, knowing all dimensions of surveying archy sites. Could you please be more specific that how this “rescue effort” is going to take place? Is it by just recording the sites? Or by moving them to another location?

I am a supervisor at the archaeology office at the Black Mesa Ranger district in the Apache forest in Arizona. Based on my experience before starting any type of construction projects archaeologists must check the area and if there is any sign of old settlements at the designated vicinity the project must be suspended! Or find a way around the area without causing any physical damage (You agree that that’s what we call it “rescue” here in the US).  Do you think
this is going to happen in case of Tange- Belaghi?

I have just received some accurate internal information from my former colleagues at the ICHO. There is no question that while -- in the best scenario -- Pasargad is not to be in direct danger, Tange-Belaghi and about one hundred unique archaeological sites are. This has also been confirmed by the people at the ICHO (Shargh newspaper interview with Mr. Zabihmand, Ordibehesht 13, 1384). If after recording all those sites about 8 kilometers in the vicinity of Tange-Belaghi will go under water, then how can we call that effort a rescue?!

You have mentioned the fake Iranian mummy. In this case I can not agree with you more, but don’t you think applying this example to the effort of some decent Iranians whomse only concern is to save their national treasures against any harm (even if there are some issues about the severity of the harm) is a little bit of an unfair accusation? In addition to that, claiming that their job has some political purpose is another huge accusation which does not match your scientific personality.

Last but not the least, I was stunned by your proposition to collect money for performing archaeological surveys in Iran! Since when and where doing archaeological surveys and excavations has been dependent on charities? You as a professor in the U.S. should know better than anyone else that there are lots of grants, agencies, and governmental budgets to apply for and the lack of them in Iran, which is undeniable, cannot be recovered by public support.

At the end I must repeat again that undoubtly you and I share the same anxiety for our national treasures. That would be even greater if we could put our efforts together to avoid any possible damage to the archaeological sites in our beloved Iran. 

Hamed Vahdati Nasab

Doctoral Fellow & Research Assistant
Institute of Human Origins
School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ85287-240 

For letters section
To Hamed Vahdati Nasab


pasargad not in danger?
* Radio Farda: Pasargad foundation head says monument not in danger but has other worries
* Deutsche Welle: Rights group will sue to prevent destruction of historical sites
* BBC Persian: Will Pasargad go under water?
* Petition: More than 3,000 signatures so far
* Open Letter: Mirzadegi & Nooriala



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Three volume box set of the Persian Book of Kings
Translated by Dick Davis

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