Tuesday, May 23, 2006

King Road does not pass near the Bolaghi Gorge

Tehran, 23 May 2006 (CHN) -- Last week it was announced that the remains of a gigantic palace believed to have belonged to Darius the Great, the Achaemenid king who ordered the construction of Palace of Persepolis in Shiraz, was discovered during the archaeological excavations in Bolaghi Gorge. This very interesting news attracted the public attention and roused a lot of interest among the people both inside and outside the country.
This new discovery disproved some old theories about this ancient site. Prior to this, it was supposed that Bolaghi Gorge was the location of the King Road- the ancient major road built by order of Darius to connect Pasargadae to Persepolis and Susa. However, the recent geophysical studies prove that King Road never passed through Bolaghi Gorge and what was believed to have been the King Road is in fact only the remains of an ancient wall surrounding the Bolaghi Gorge which collapsed over time. Moreover, Mohammad Taghi Atayi, Iranian head of Iranian-Italian joint archaeology team in Bolaghi Gorge said that the fact that this wall was used as a shell keep to enclose Bolaghi Gorge and discovery of the remains of the palace of Darius in Bolaghi Gorge and many other evidence all indicate that Bolaghi Gorge was used as a hunting ground by Darius the Great and other Achaemenid kings some 2500 years ago.
“Last year we conducted a sounding measurment in some parts of what we thought was the King Road to examine the materials used in its construction. During our studies, we found adobe material with a large amount of white grits which for sure could not have been used for strengthening the road,” added Atayi.
According to Atayi, the white grits were not found in other parts of Bolaghi Gorge and most probably they were used for strengthening an important construction.
Archaeological studies on this road show that due to its narrow width and the fact that some parts of it do not have the characteristics of Achaemenid constructions, this part of Bolaghi Gorge which was believed to have been the King Road was used for other purposes.
Rejecting of the theory that Bolaghi Gorge was the location of King Road has brought up two new theories which have been proposed by Atayi and Remy Boucharlat, the French head of Iranian-French joint archaeology team in Bolaghi Gorge. Atayi believes that what was formerly believed to have been the King Road was a long wall which surrounded the valley and discovering the remains of an Achaemenid palace in this historical gorge proves that King Road was in fact a shell-keep for enclosing the area and Bolaghi Gorge was the hunting ground of Achaemenid kings.
On the other hand, Boucharlat believes that King Road was originally an irrigation channel. However, since no remains of sediments have been seen throughout this road yet, this idea has been suspended for now.
“Studies on the path of this road led to new findings about its real identity. What was known as the King Road started from the beginning of the Bolaghi Gorge and after covering the entire valley it ended in its original place. Now the question is, what kind of a road could it be that started and ended in the same place? On the other hand, these excavations resulted in discovery of several walls on the path of the road which in some parts have remained almost intact up to a height of 5 meters. All of these evidences show that ‘King Road’ was only a defensive wall for protecting the area of Bolaghi Gorge,” explained Atayi.
Atayi strongly believes that this discovered palace belonged to Darius the Great and the “King Road” is the remains of the shell-keep of Bolaghi Gorge and this area was used as a hunting ground by Achaemenid kings.
“Discovery of the palace’s pedestal with the Achaemenid-style floorings and its construction on a platform assured us that there must have been a palace belonging to the Achaemenid era in Bolaghi Gorge long before the actual discovery of the palace of Darius the Great. On the other hand, discovering the remains of a large number of clay canteens indicate that this palace was a temporary residential area for the Achaemenid kings who spend a short time there during the hunting season. The remains of clay objects in the area also show that some food reservoirs were established in this palace for the soldiers who guarded the palace. Today, we can strongly claim that Bolaghi Gorge was once the hunting ground of Achaemenid kings. Environmental evidence show that this area was much greener than what we see today and some animals used to live here during the ancient times.
Bolaghi Gorge is an endangered historical site in Fars province, near the ancient site of Pasargadea, threatened by the Sivand Dam built in its vicinity. Although the dam is not flooded yet, it is clear that inundation of the dam will drown this historic site almost completely. A large number of archaeological groups from different countries have rushed to the site to save this historic heritage as much as possible. At present, some groups from Italy, France, Germany, Poland, and a large number of Iranian archaeologists are busy on the site with the Bolaghi Gorge salvation project.


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