Sunday, May 14, 2006

Putting an End to Explosive Activities near Sassanid Castle


Tehran, 14 May 2006 (CHN) -- It had been 30 years that the Sassanid fortress of Da va Dokhtar in Khuzestan province was being rocked by a series of explosions set off in its vicinity by a plaster company. However, following a complaint submitted recently to the court by the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Ramhormoz, the support received by the governor’s office, and the visit of some officials from this fortress, Iranian cultural heritage authorities ordered the plaster company of Ramhormorz to stop its explosive activities since they were found to be detrimental, causing irreplaceable harm to this ancient Sassanid building.

“Da va Dokhtar Fortress dates back to the Sassanid era (226–650 AD) and was constructed according to the ancient Roman architectural style. This historic fortress is located 5 kilometers north of the city of Ramhormoz in the southwestern province of Khuzestan and is built on the mountain-skirts of a gypsum mountain. Explosive activities of a plaster company in this mountain over the past 30 years to extract plaster for construction purposes resulted in the destruction of this ancient fortress to a large extent. Therefore, a lawsuit was filed which is still in process to stop the activities of this company. Later on, the governor’s office asked the owners of the plaster company to either stop their blasting operations or find an alternative for exploiting plaster from this mountain which would not pose any threat to the ancient Sassanid fortress of Da va Dokhtar. As a result, the company owners accepted to seize their activities until a safer way is found to extract plaster from the mountain,” said Fardin Bigdeli, Director of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Ramhormoz.

Prior to this, continuous explosions caused by this plaster company had not only resulted in the increasing destruction of the Da va Dokhtar Fortress, it also resulted in environmental problems in the area. The plaster company has therefore been asked to pay compensations for the damages caused to both the natural environment and cultural heritage of the region. The compensation will be used for renovation of the Sassanid fortress.

According to Bigdeli, the explosions which occurred in this mountain over the past 30 years account for much of the damages caused to the Da va Dokhtar Fortress. “This fortress was consisted of two parts, one of which has completely been ruined. There used to be a wall connecting the two parts of this fortress which was 4 meters in height and had 30 defense stations, from which not much has remained,” added Bigdeli. He also noted that the fortress was built to watch over caravans carrying merchandize to Susa from Pasargadae. Palace guards in the area were stationed in this fortress.

“The plaster company had previously announced that its activities are conducted in an area far from the fortress and therefore pose no threat to this ancient citadel. However, after the cultural heritage authorities visited the Da va Dokhtar Fortress, they realized that the explosive activities of the plaster company actually take place only 400 kilometers from this fortress; thus immediate actions must be taken to prevent the fortress from further destruction,” said Bigdeli.

Although no statement has been released by the court ordering the stop of activities of the plaster company, the governor of Ramhormoz and the city’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department have asked the company to seize its activities until the court announces its decision officially.

“Da va Dokhtar”, literary meaning “mother and daughter”, is a major tourist attraction in Ramhormoz and several thousand tourists visit this city to see the monument each year. Six years ago, this fortress was registered as a national cultural heritage site and thus it is the responsibility of Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization to preserve this unique Sassanid heritage.

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