Iranian artists, heritage enthusiasts sign petition demanding salvage of masterpiece in Iraq

January 11, 2021 - 21:38

TEHRAN – Hundreds of Iranian artists, architects, and cultural heritage enthusiasts have signed a petition demanding an urgent restoration of Taq Kasra, a Sassanid masterpiece of architecture, which was collapsed partly in modern Iraq earlier this month.

A group of actors, cineastes, musicians, architects, and restoration experts have filed a petition requesting Iranian and Iraqi governments to take urgent action to save and restore the landmark monument, Mehr reported on Monday.

In early January, some Iraqi social media users posted pictures of Taq Kasra, which is located near Baghdad, writing the vault of the monument is partly collapsed.

Social media activists and cultural heritage lovers have also criticized the Iraqi government's neglect of the monument, disapproving the poor governmental performance in maintaining it…, the news agency said.

For years, there have been talks between Iranian and Iraqi officials to jointly restore the magnificent structure, but nothing happened.

Even Iranian archaeologists have repeatedly asked the Iranian authorities to consult on the restoration of the monument in cooperation between the two countries. Because they believe Taq Kasra is in dire need of urgent repairs as every time a part of it collapses.

In 2019, Tehran Municipality hold talks with Baghdad’s urban planners and authorities to restore several aging monuments in Iraq including Taq Kasra.

Taq Kasra, also called Ivan Madaen or the Archway of Ctesiphon, are names given to the remains of a circa 3rd–6th-century Sasanian-era Persian monument, which is located near the modern town of Salman Pak, a city located approximately 15 miles (24 km) south of Baghdad.

The arch was part of the imperial palace complex, however, the exact time of its construction is not known with certainty. Some historians believe the founder is Shapour I who ruled Persia from 242 to 272 CE and some others believe that construction possibly began during the reign of Anushiruwan the Just (Khosrow I) after a campaign against the Byzantines in 540 CE.

Ctesiphon served as the winter capital of the Parthian empire and later of the Sasanian empire. Classical writers claimed that Ctesiphon was founded by the Parthian king Vardanes. The first reliable mention of Ctesiphon, however, is as a Greek army camp on the east bank of the Tigris River opposite the Hellenistic city of Seleucia, according to Britannica.

Since then the course of the river has shifted, no longer flowing between the ruins of the two cities but instead dividing Ctesiphon itself. In 129 BC, when the Arsacids (Parthians) annexed Babylonia, they found Ctesiphon a convenient residence and cantonment, and under their rule Seleucia and its royal suburb of Ctesiphon came to form a twin city and a capital of the empire. A discontinuous Roman occupation of Seleucia and Ctesiphon began under the emperor Trajan in 116 CE. During the Roman sack of the city complex in 165 CE by the general Avidius Cassius, the palaces of Ctesiphon were destroyed and Seleucia was depopulated. The Sasanian monarchy, which replaced the Arsacids in 224 CE, resettled Ctesiphon.

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