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Saturday, September 18, 2010
Susa cultural heritage loses court case
Tehran Times Culture Desk
TEHRAN -- A court has issued a ruling allowing the developer of a hotel project to resume construction activities near the 4000-year-old site of Susa in Khuzestan Province.
The decision was made after the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (KCHTHD) had postponed the demarcation of the ancient site, the Persian service of CHN reported on Thursday.
Girders for the three-story Amir Zargar hotel project have been installed however, the hotel was originally planned as two-story.
Construction of the hotel began in 2007 in an area located among the ruins of the ancient palaces of Shaur and Apadana (not to be confused with the Apadana Palace at Persepolis) and ancient mounds of Susa.
However, it was halted shortly thereafter as a result of objections raised by media and cultural heritage enthusiasts. In addition, the KCHTHD sued the owner of the hotel project.
The KCHTHD also faced another dispute over a hotel construction project named Laleh in progress at the site at the same time.
The hotel construction projects provoked a heated debate over the precise location of the perimeter of Susa which prompted the KCHTHD to be assigned the task of demarcating the site. However, the task was never completed and the court rule ruled in favor of the owner of the Amir Zargar hotel project.
In its verdict, the court ordered the owner to modify the height of the hotel after the KCHTHD finds any instance of violating the perimeter of Susa in their upcoming demarcation of the site, a Susa expert informed CHN on condition of anonymity.
The owner has also been instructed to use an architectural style, which will be in harmony with the ancient site, he added.
“However, officials have ignored the fact that the site contains many artifacts and a stone-covered area of the Achaemenids discovered two years ago while excavating for the hotel’s foundation,” he explained.
“Now the foundations lay on the exact location where the artifacts and the Achaemenid site had been unearthed,” he lamented.
An archaeological team had previously set a 1200-hectare perimeter for Susa in order to save the site from construction projects. However, the KCHTHD refused to recognize the demarcation.
Located about 150 miles east of the Tigris River in Iran’s Khuzestan Province, Susa was an ancient city in the Elamite, Persian, and Parthian empires of Iran.
Susa is one of the oldest known settlements in the region, probably founded around 4000 BC, although the first traces of an inhabited settlement date back to 7000 BC.