Iran’s Bisotun registered on UNESCO World Heritage List

July 15, 2006 - 0:0
TEHRAN -- Bisotun, an ancient Iranian site bearing bas-reliefs and inscriptions of Darius the Great, along with 17 sites from other countries, was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the UNESCO website reported on Thursday.

The decision was made on Thursday during the 30th session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, which is currently underway in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Bisotun (also known as Bistun) is located in western Iran, 30 kilometers east of the provincial capital Kermanshah, at the foot of the Zagros Mountains.

The area was on the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and contains remains from prehistoric times to the Median and Achaemenid eras.

The principal monument of this archaeological site is the bas-relief and cuneiform inscription ordered by Darius the Great shortly after he ascended to the throne of the Persian Empire in 521 BC.

The bas-relief portrays Darius holding a bow, as a sign of sovereignty and treading on the chest of a figure who lies on his back before him. According to legend, the figure represents Gaumata, the Median Magus and pretender to the throne whose assassination led to Darius’s rise to power.

Below and around the bas-reliefs, there are about 1,200 lines of inscriptions telling the story of the battles Darius waged in 521-520 BC against the governors who attempted to take apart the empire founded by Cyrus.

The inscription is written in three languages. The oldest is an Elamite text referring to legends describing the king and the rebellions. This is followed by a Babylonian version of similar legends. The last phase of the inscription is particularly important, as it is here that Darius introduced for the first time the Old Persian version of his res gestae (things done).

This is the only known monumental text of the Achaemenids to document the re-establishment of the empire by Darius I. It also bears witness to the interchange of influences in the development of monumental art and writing in the region of the Persian Empire. There are also remains from the Median period (8th to 7th centuries BC) as well as from the Achaemenid (6th to 4th centuries BC) and post-Achaemenid periods. Iran hopes to register more sites on UNESCO list

As Bisotun is registered as Iran’s eighth site on the UNESCO list, several teams of experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (CHTO) are preparing dossiers for other Iranian sites which are to be proposed to UNESCO for registration in upcoming years.

The city of Yazd, Abyaneh village in Isfahan Province, Masuleh village in Gilan Province, Sabzevar’s Aq-Qaleh in Khorasan, the Shushtar waterfalls in Khuzestan Province, and three churches in West Azarbaijan Province, St. Stephanus , St. Thaddeus and Zorzor, are a few of the many sites.

Soltanieh Dome, the mausoleum of Oljaitu in Zanjan, was added to the list during last year’s session of the committee held in Durban, South Africa.

Chogha Zanbil (Khuzestan Province, 1979), Persepolis (Fars Province, 1979), Naqsh-e Jahan Square (Isfahan Province, 1979), Takht-e Soleiman (West Azarbaijan Province, 2003), Pasargadae (Fars Province, 2004), and the city of Bam and its Cultural Landscape (Kerman Province, 2004) are the other Iranian monuments and sites that have been registered on the World Heritage List over the years. Additions to UNESCO World Heritage List

Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries (China), Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (Colombia), Harar Jugol (Ethiopia), Stone Circles of Senegambia (Gambia and Senegal), Chongoni Rock Art Area (Malawi), Aapravasi Ghat (Mauritius), Agave Landscape and Ancient Industrial Facilities of Tequila (Mexico), Kondoa Rock Art Sites (United Republic of Tanzania), Sewell Mining Town (Chile), Yin Xu (China), Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof (Germany), Genoa: Le Strade Nuove and the system of the Palazzi dei Rolli (Italy), the aflaj irrigation system (Oman), Centennial Hall in Wroclaw (Poland), Vizcaya Bridge (Spain), Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Syrian Arab Republic), Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape (United Kingdom) are the sites.

The 30th annual session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee will come to an end on July 16.