Earth cracks at ancient site of Naqsh-e Rustam

December 19, 2011 - 15:27
TEHRAN -- A large deep crack has appeared in the earth at the foot of the ancient site of Naqsh-e Rustam in Iran’s southern province of Fars.

The site includes a number of bas-reliefs and tombs of several Achaemenid kings, which had been created on rocks on Mount Hossein.

Local people have said that the crack has appeared as a result of the minor earthquakes, which have recently occurred in the region, the Persian service of CHN reported on Tuesday.

However, local cultural heritage activists believe that an increase in use of the underground water sources has caused the crack.

Studies published by experts in January 2010 had shown that the level of the earth sank five centimeters at the foot of Naqsh-e Rustam.
They had said that digging numerous wells and a reduction in the level of water tables in the region might be one of the factors causing the phenomenon.

A number of cracks, which have appeared in the rocks over the years, have also widened, cultural heritage activist Saman Khosravani said.

Vibrations caused by daily explosions in the nearby mines have broadened the cracks, he added. 

In addition, the situation is worsened by rainfall and frost, he noted.

Khosravani said that a team of experts prepared a plan to cover Naqsh-e Rustam and Persepolis with a small budget, but it was never accepted by Iranian officials.

Naqsh-e Rustam is home to the tombs of the Achaemenid kings Darius I, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II, and several other sites dating back to the Elamite and Sassanid eras.

In 2006, Iranian archaeologists and cultural heritage enthusiasts raised objections to the construction of a railway line, which was to pass at a distance of about 350 meters from Naqsh-e Rustam.

The archaeologists believe that the constant vibration from passing trains would eventually damage the sites.

Consequently, the railway line was relocated at a distance of one kilometer from Naqsh-e Rustam.