Sunday, July 10, 2011

Introduction to the Eighth Set of Snippets: Ancient Ruins, Inscriptions and Bas-reliefs in Iran

Countries around the world take very different stances in regard to their "ruins." Some set out to reconstruct or rebuild as much as possible. Some want to preserve the site as a "ruin" and pretty much leave it be. I think Iran's stance is somewhere in the middle. Reconstruct what you can and then try to preserve all the stuff that is on the site without disturbing it. The problem arises when some work is done, complete with scaffolding and good intentions, and the money runs out. The scaffolding remains, propping up the partially reconstructed building or obscuring the ancient bas-relief. You'll see examples of this in the sites below.

There are many ancient ruins in Iran, many of them way off the tourists' trail. Fortunately, we were able to see the most accessible and famous sites. Visiting Persepolis is, to my mind, a "must-do" in one's life time. We also visited two excellent archeological museums, the National Museum of Iran (no photos allowed) in Tehran and the Azarbaijan Museum in Tabriz, both of which had artifacts from excavations dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE, such as the one shown above. In this piece, you can see a battle between two lions and a bull. The bull is losing. Watch for the same iconography in Persepolis on the Apadana Palace Stairs.

In the post below, I have started with the oldest ruin we saw whose construction started in 550 BCE  under the Achaemenian rulers and move on through to the most recent ruin which was originally built in the 5th century by the Sassanians.

Just a quick note for clarity: In the following section on ruins, Bisotun has two entries, one from the Achaemenian period and the other from the Selucid. Naqsh-e Rostam has two entries as well; it has both Achaemenian and Sassanian treasures.

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