Bridge construction violates perimeter of Shushtar’s ancient water system

February 28, 2011 - 0:0

TEHRAN -- The perimeter of the Shushtar ancient water system structure in Khuzestan Province has been disturbed by a bridge construction project.

The Shushtar Municipality began construction of the bridge last week near the Mizan Weir following the collapse of part of the Gargar Bridge in early February, the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.
The Gargar Bridge is one of 13 parts of the water system, which has been registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009.
Traffic has been stopped on the bridge after its recent collapse, which was caused by heavy rains. The municipality has announced that a new bridge is being built to replace the ancient bridge.
Experts believe that due to the collapse, the Shushtar ancient water system structure may be added to the UNESCO List of World Heritage of Danger.
In addition, the possibility will be raised if the bridge project is completed.
Currently road construction machinery is working at the site where the bridge will be constructed.
Countries must obtain permission from UNESCO for any alteration to the sites and monuments registered on the World Heritage List.
However, construction of the bridge has not been authorized by the organization or even by Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO).
The CHTHO has remained silent since the bridge construction project began.
The man-made Shushtar waterfalls are located near the Elamite capital of Susa in southwestern Iran. Construction of the structures started during the Achaemenid era (about 550-331 BC) on one of the Gargar River’s tributaries and the system was then improved by the Sassanid dynasty (224-651 CE).
The waterworks are comprised of bridges, dams, mills, aquifers, reservoirs, tunnels, and canals, most of which were constructed in the Sassanid period especially during the reign of Shapur I (241-272 CE).
The structures were used as an irrigation system and encouraged cultural interaction within the region. The waterfalls presented visitors with a beautiful and unique landscape, while enjoying the results of hydraulic engineering technology rare at that point in history.
The Shushtar waterfalls are among the few ancient water systems in Iran used for irrigating the Shushtar plain. Remnants of some of the many water wheels built at the waterfalls during the Safavid era (1501-1722) are still visible.