Rock climbers start cleaning high walls of absolute grandeur
A clean-up project has recently been commenced on the Tomb of Darius I in Naqsh-e Rostam and the Wall of Sofeh in the UNESCO-registered Persepolis, southern Fars province, the director of the World Heritage site has announced.
Since last week, the Tomb of Darius I and the Wall of Sofeh have been cleaned up under the direct supervision of the cultural heritage experts and restorers, Hamid Fadai said on Saturday. Marvdasht rock climbing team is performing the project after being trained by experts in the field of protection and preservation of historical works, the official added. A detailed map of harmful plants has also been prepared to assist the team, he noted. The plant removal is easier on the accessible rock surfaces, such as horizontal ones, but it is very difficult to remove plants from vertical walls and at heights, and thus a group of rock climbers from Marvdasht and cultural heritage enthusiasts helped with the cleaning up in these hard-to-reach places, he mentioned. As plants and weeds penetrate and root deeply between the materials and stone blocks, they cause the stones to crack and shift, and especially in high walls, removing the stones from their horizontal and static positions gradually brings about conditions of wall instability, he explained. The ancient site of Naqsh-e Rostam has a variety of spectacular massive rock-hewn tombs and bas-relief carvings. The Achaemenid necropolis is situated near Persepolis, itself a bustling UNESCO World Heritage site near the southern city of Shiraz. Naqsh-e Rostam, meaning “Picture of Rostam” is named after a mythical Iranian hero which is most celebrated in Shahnameh and Persian mythology. Back in time, natives of the region had erroneously supposed that the carvings below the tombs represent depictions of the mythical hero. One of the wonders of the ancient world, Naqsh-e Rostam embraces four tombs are where Persian Achaemenid kings are laid to rest, believed to be those of Darius II, Artaxerxes I, Darius I, and Xerxes I (from left to right facing the cliff), although some historians are still debating this. There are gorgeous bas-relief carvings above the tomb chambers that are similar to those at Persepolis, with the kings standing on thrones supported by figures representing the subject nations below. There also two similar graves situated on the premises of Persepolis probably belong to Artaxerxes II and Artaxerxes III. Beneath the funerary chambers are dotted with seven Sassanian era (224–651) bas-reliefs cut into the cliff depict vivid scenes of imperial conquests and royal ceremonies; signboards below each relief give a detailed description in English. At the foot of Naqsh-e Rostam, in the direction of the cliff face, stands a square building known as Ka’beh-ye Zardusht, meaning Kaaba of Zoroaster. The building, which is roughly 12 meters high and 7 meters square, probably was constructed in the first half of the 6th century BC, although it bears a variety of inscriptions from later periods. Though the Ka’beh-ye Zardusht is of great linguistic interest, its original purpose is not clear. It may have been a tomb for Achaemenian royalty or some sort of altar, perhaps to the goddess Anahita, also called Anahita believed to be associated with royalty, war, and fertility. Persepolis, a symbol of ancient Iranians’ art The royal city of Persepolis ranks among the archaeological sites which have no equivalent, considering its unique architecture, urban planning, construction technology, and art. Persepolis, also known as Takht-e Jamshid, whose magnificent ruins rest at the foot of Kuh-e Rahmat (Mountain of Mercy) is situated 60 kilometers northeast of the city of Shiraz in Fars province. The city was burnt by Alexander the Great in 330 BC apparently as revenge to the Persians because it seems the Persian King Xerxes had burnt the Greek City of Athens around 150 years earlier. The city’s immense terrace was begun about 518 BC by Darius the Great, the Achaemenid Empire’s king. On this terrace, successive kings erected a series of architecturally stunning palatial buildings, among them the massive Apadana palace and the Throne Hall (“Hundred-Column Hall”). This 13-ha ensemble of majestic approaches, monumental stairways, throne rooms (Apadana), reception rooms, and dependencies is classified among the world’s greatest archaeological sites. Persepolis was the seat of the government of the Achaemenid Empire, though it was designed primarily to be a showplace and spectacular center for the receptions and festivals of the kings and their empire. The site is marked by a large terrace with its east side abutting the Kuh-e Rahmat (“Mount of Mercy”). The other three sides are formed by a retaining wall, varying in height with the slope of the ground from 13 to 41 feet (4 to 12 meters); on the west side, a magnificent double stair in two flights of 111 short stone steps leads to the top. On the terrace are the ruins of several colossal buildings, all constructed of a dark gray stone (often polished to a marble-like surface) from the adjacent mountain.