Train vibrations threaten tomb of Xerxes I

September 13, 2007 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- Vibrations caused by passing trains are likely to broaden existing cracks in the tomb of Xerxes I and result in its collapse if a nearby railway route becomes operational, archaeologist Mohammad-Taqi Ataii said during a seminar at the University Of Tehran (UT) on September 11.

Entitled “Naqsh-e Rustam in Danger”, the one-day colloquium was held to survey the threats from the railway route to the tomb of Xerxes I at the Naqsh-e Rustam site in southern Iran’s Fars Province.
“The builders of the tomb were aware of the natural cracks in the mountainside and built a canal to divert rainwater to a large pool thus preventing it from flowing into the gaps,” Ataii explained.
“The cracks in the rock are already widening as the pool has become full.
“This is happening as the result of a natural process and so far people have not made any effort to preserve the huge cliff. The situation will worsen if the railway route becomes operational.”
Attaii’s remarks met with protest from an unidentified man defending the railway project.
The man, who declined to introduce himself, said that according to seismographic studies, vibrations from trains using the railway route would not cause damage to the monuments in the Naqsh-e Rustam region.
It has been rumored that a number of the project’s officials attending the ceremony denied that the man had any relationship with the railway project.
Moreover, the Ministry of Roads and Transportation has not published the results of the seismographic studies.
Experts have previously said that if the railroad, the embankment of which has been constructed at a distance of about 350 meters from Naqsh-e Rustam, were to become operational, train vibrations would eventually damage the monument and cause the destruction of Zoroaster’s Kaba within less than ten years.
In December 2006, the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) and cultural heritage enthusiasts finally convinced the Ministry of Road and Transportation to alter the railway route. However the extent of the modification has not satisfied the CHTHO or the cultural heritage enthusiasts.
The modification would place the route at a distance of 500 meters from the Naqsh-e Rustam site.
Naqsh-e Rustam is an extremely important historical site since the tombs of Achaemenid kings including Darius I and Xerxes I have been carved into the solid rock of Mt. Hossein in that region. The site also contains remnants dating back to the Elamite and Sassanid eras.