Authorities deny theft of Tchogha Zanbil’s inscriptions

February 26, 2023 - 22:42

TEHRAN – There is no theft of the brick inscriptions of the UNESCO-registered Tchogha Zanbil, according to authorities.

Despite accusations of theft, investigations have proven that the ancient inscriptions of the World Heritage site, which is a ruined prehistoric ziggurat and a top tourist destination in southwestern Khuzestan province, have not been lost, the director of the site has said.

Over the past few weeks, only an attempt was made to destroy a part of the site’s wall but was unsuccessful, IRNA quoted Atefeh Rashnui as saying on Sunday.

The attackers entered the area intending to damage this historical monument, but fled when the guard entered after damaging a part of the wall, the official added.

Immediately following this incident, a case was filed with law enforcement, and a legal investigation is ongoing, she explained.

As part of the initial expert visit, the possibility of theft was also investigated, and after reviewing the photogrammetric documentation and the existing condition of the building, it was determined this was vandalism rather than theft, she noted.

Tchogha Zanbil is amongst the topmost tourist attractions in southwest Iran, as it is considered by many the finest surviving example of Elamite architecture in the globe.

The ziggurat bears testimony to the unique expression of the culture, beliefs, rituals, and traditions of one of the oldest indigenous communities on the Iranian plateau.

Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979, the ziggurat overlooks the ancient city of Susa (near modern Shush) in the modern Khuzestan province.

Its construction started in c. 1250 BC upon the order of the Elamite king Untash-Napirisha (1275-1240 BC) as the religious center of Elam dedicated to the Elamite divinities Inshushinak and Napirisha.

UNESCO says that Tchogha Zanbil is the largest ziggurat outside of Mesopotamia and the best preserved of this type of stepped pyramidal monument.

The Elamite structure was given a facing of baked bricks, several of which have cuneiform characters giving the names of deities in the Elamite and Akkadian languages.

It was never been completed as thousands of unused bricks left at the premises testify. Tchogha Zanbil was excavated in six seasons between 1951 and 1961 by Roman Ghirshman, a Russian-born French archeologist who specialized in ancient Iran.


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