Are There Any Monuments In Northern Iran That Speak Of Saka

The Achaemenid dynasty of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes (6th to 4th bc) brought the 'Land of the Aryans' to a leading position in the region, and Persepolis became the symbol of the greatness of Persia. Its palaces were burnt in 330 BC by the order of Alexander the Great to destroy the Persian identity, although, at the same time, he showed respect in front of the tomb of Cyrus, taking action for its repair. The arrival of Islam in AD 640 brought major changes, but there remained an interest in the past; during the Abbasid caliphate (750-821), the traditions of Chivalry and the deeds of Rostam were collected by Ferdowsi (9351020/6) in the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) that became the Persian national epic. In the ninth and tenth centuries the Buyids led the development to an Iranian renaissance; the Persian language became the second language of Islam and excelled in literature and poetry; historians and geographers wrote descriptions of cities and buildings and attention was given to recording inscriptions. Construction styles followed earlier examples in a revival of

Sasanian and Parthian architecture (Pirnia, 1971). Persepolis and ancient rock carvings of Persia became places for ceremonial visits.12 The first European to speak about Persepolis was Friar Odoricus di Pordenone who visited the site in 1325. After much devastation, a new era started in the sixteenth century under the rule of the Safavids with the construction of fabulous palaces, mosques and cities such as Isfahan, the capital of Shah Abbas (1589-1627). The European interest in the Orient and its ancient monuments, such as Persepolis, Babylon and Baalbek, increased in the seventeenth century, leading to the development of Orientalism.13 Descriptions remained unsystematic though until J. B. Fraser's geological survey of eastern Persia and his account of Islamic buildings. Later visitors included Lord Curzon, who wrote extensively about the country, its culture, Persepolis and other Achaemenid and Sasanid ruins, in 1889.

Archaeological activities, excavations and records were started in the nineteenth century, principally by Europeans: the British worked in Naqsh-i Rustam in 1811-18, in Bisotun 1836-41 and in Susa 1851-53; the French worked in Iran from the 1840s, others arrived later. Arthur Upham Pope's (1881-1969) and Roman Ghirshman's (b.1895) studies of Persian art and architecture are of great significance. One of the foremost Iranian architectural histo

Figure 9.27 Iran, the archaeological site of Persepolis, where conservation and restoration works have continued in the 1980s and 1990s without interruption. The purpose has been to re-erect and display existing doorways and columns

rians has been Professor M. K. Pirnia (192097), who studied the traditional structural forms and architectural styles. The early times are marked with the loss of important archaeological finds abroad. With the Pahlavi Dynasty in the 1920s, there was a more organized national approach to the study and the protection of historic sites. In 1925, sacred places were opened to foreign researchers, and in 1928 the Archaeological Survey of Iran was founded under the direction of the French architect André Godard, who also designed the new Iran Bastan museum (1937). In 1930, a law was passed concerning the preservation of national antiquities before the end of the Zend dynasty (1794), and in 1932 rules were approved for its application.14 The state took 50 per cent of the finds, the rest could be kept by the institute responsible for the excavation. (This rule was only abolished in 1971.) All restoration works and changes to the monument or its immediate surroundings had

Figure 9-28 The monumental square of Isfahan, Meidan-i Naqsh-i Jahan, was planned at the time of Shah Abbas (1589—1627) as a crucial point linking the old part of Isfahan to the new town planning scheme. The shop fronts have been rebuilt on the basis of archaeological evidence, and the square has been redesigned for pedestrian use in the 1990s. The site is on the World Heritage List

Figure 9.29 The dome of the mosque of Madar-i Shah in Isfahan is an example of restoration in the traditional manner. Broken tiles are renewed at reasonable intervals thus maintaining the architectural appearance intact

to be approved by the Ministry of Education (Smith, 1939; Iran-Unesco, 1969; Paone, 1977).

Early restorations included interventions in the Friday Mosque of Isfahan, in 1935, and in other public monuments in Isfahan, Gazvin, Kashan and Yazd. The traditional way of repairing the palaces of Persepolis was to cut out the defective part to insert new stone material of the same kind. Cracks were repaired by inserting iron clamps bedded in lead. Wooden parts were generally replaced when decayed, walls and floors were renewed from time to time covering the ancient structure (Tilia, 1972:3). The first modern restorations in Persepolis were carried out by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago under the direction of Professor Ernst Herzfeld starting in 1931, and later under the direction of Professor Erich Schmidt. Works were carried out to protect parts of the palace, and restorations included some floor repairs and replacement of sculptural details in stone. Damaged and cracked areas were repaired in cement. Mud brick walls were protected with

layers of mud and straw, and reinforced by burning the edges.

In 1964, in a reorganization the Archaeological Survey came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Arts as the General Office for Archaeology. In the different regions of the country, collection of data was carried out by regional offices of culture and arts. In 1965, the Ministry established the National Organization for the Conservation of Historic Monuments, which worked through regional offices in the different parts of the country.15 In 1973, the date limiting protection of historic monuments was removed, and all historic structures considered important to history and culture could be protected under the law. From 1964 to 1972, the works in Persepolis were entrusted to the Italian Institute of the Middle and Far East (IsMEO), under Professor Giuseppe Tucci and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.16 At the same time excavations and restorations were carried out in the monuments of Naqsh-i Rustam, Pasargadae and Dorudzan. The project was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and Arts and Archaeological Department of Iran, and one of the aims was to train a team of restoration specialists and craftsmen. The guidelines for the restoration work were elaborated by Professor Giuseppe Zander, who insisted on accurate archaeological study, prevention of further decay, and on secure evidence in restorations according to the Italian guidelines. All material and restoration works were documented and published (Zander, 1968).

After the Islamic Revolution, the Iranian parliament approved, in 1985, a new law for the conservation of cultural heritage, and the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO, Sazman-e Miras-e Farhanghi-e Keshvar), first directed by Mehdi Hodjat, President, and Baqer Shirazi, Vice President. The ICHO provided a basis for the coordination of all heritage activities within one organization, including survey, research and inventory, as well as planning and execution of conservation and restoration works. The headquarters

Figure 9-31 The traditional mountain village of Massule in northern Iran has remained outside commercial routes, and is currently under protection for its cultural values

of ICHO and specialized offices (museums, monuments, palaces, traditional arts, etc.) are placed in Tehran, and each province has its own regional office to look after all aspects of heritage (Soheil, 1995). The new organization has allowed for better use of resources and available expertise, such as the workshops of Isfahan on ceramics and Persepolis on stone. ICHO is also able to participate in the national and provincial planning commissions with a veto on historic areas, and a central research laboratory was established in Tehran. Particular attention was given to the development of appropriate training strategies. Academic training in the field of conservation dates from 1976 at the Farabi University in Isfahan. Such earlier initiatives were reorganized within an overall structure, including specialized courses for technicians, university degree and PhD research programmes for conservation specialists (Isfahan and Tehran), as well as specialized training for students in architecture (Vatandoust, 1994).

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    Are there any monuments in northern Iran that speak of Saka?
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