I am writing on behalf of myself and not Professor Kamyar Abdi, the eminent archaeologist at Dartmouth College who excavates in Iran every year. I write as a historian of ancient Persia and someone who has basically has spent half of his 38 years of life dedicated to ancient Persian Studies.
I have been writing on the subject and teaching ancient Persian history and religions and travel to Iran to do research and document every piece of information on Sasanian Persia for everyone in the world to know. For this I have created a website to document every source for this period of our glorious history (Sasanika.com).
I visit Pasargadae and Naqsh-e Rustam every year which I consider my religious pilgrimage. The only time I feel religious is when I come across monuments of ancient Persia. My dissertation was on the province of Fars and it is this region and its antiquities which I love and study and want the world to know about.
Thus, it is rather disheartening that the lady and gentleman who appear to be poets have taken on a cause that is outside of their knowledge and rather than accepting people’s opinion who are at the sites and have information on it, they try to belittle us by associating us with the Islamic Republic of Iran. [Not expendable]
I assume they are part of the people who have not gone back or could not have gone back to Iran in the past 25 years and tend to scream and shout and rather accuse people freely of collaboration with this group or that group. This should be familiar to Iranians, especially in the city which I live in, Los Angeles.
Since I do not have that baggage and was only 12-years old when the revolution happened and have lived most of my life abroad, I think that ideas of freedom and Democracy come with education and opening of the young Iranian minds. Pressuring governments is one thing, making a lot of noise for nothing is another matter.
For the love of my country, I travel to Iran, lecture, publish books on my domain of study, help the many poor students who have no means of finding information in my academic field and simply talk and listen to people. I do not accuse anyone with any specific political party. I also began the first journal in Iran dedicated to the history and culture of ancient Iran since 1979, which continues to be published.
When our cultural heritage is at stake, no one can take it lightly, and when the name of the Persian Gulf was purposefully altered by the National Geographic, my letter which gave a historical reasoning for the name Persian Gulf was published by Iranian.com.
When I first heard about the “flooding” of Pasargadae, it was several years ago when I was in Shiraz and I was beside myself, and my blood pressure was going through the roof. How could they dare to do such a thing? But then after speaking with the archaeologists and the people at the Center for Fars Studies, it became clear that Pasargadae will not be flooded.
Now this is what archaeologists and historians say. I am not the speaker of any government and have no allegiance to any party or government. If someone is suddenly concerned, they should ask the right people, and not cite a newspaperman in Britain, someone who probably has never set foot on Iranian soil.
Unfortunately, everything that is done in Persian Studies has taken a political dimension. Fear of reprisals is making it difficult to say what seems to be the truth in research. It would have been easy for me to get on the bandwagon and rise up my banner (alam) and say “Oh people our beloved tomb of Cyrus is in danger.”
If it was the case, I would not scream from abroad. I would go down to Pasargadae and defend it with my life and they would have to kill me before they flood the place. But my scientific obligation tells me to judge based on facts and the facts say that it will not be flooded.
As I have been called “gentleman” by Mr. Nooriala (to hide my expertise in the field), or Professor Abdi’s, the people in charge of the Pasargadae project shall write soon enough to clarify the matter. But I am afraid that some people are so emotional / poetic about the matter that even that will not calm them down.
I suspect this is because there is the idea that anything that is done during a government, which certain people don’t like, can not be good, and everything that is done by a government that they enjoy, is all good. This is rather childish to say the least. I really don’t care who is in charge, my allegiance is to my culture and its past.
What this dam has done is to make it so that sites which were never surveyed before to begin to be surveyed before the dam is completed. For the past 3 years, for the first time an international committee has been put together to restore Pasargadae, to repair it. I have been there (photo above). You don’t fix things and then flood them!
In regards to Iran not needing money for excavations, I should say that Mr. Nooriala is dead wrong. Every country in the world, perhaps with the exception of Saudi Arabia, has European or American money and excavating teams being paid by those countries.
In Iran, things are now done jointly with Iranian and foreign money. Iranian archaeologists have to be involved and share the work. In fact money is needed for the many sites to be excavated in Iran and the more money is spent the more we will know about our glorious past.
But what do I know or Professor Abdi? after all we are just ancient historians of Persian and Archaeologists of ancient Persian who are in Iran every year; we live and breathe the smell of the province of Fars. People in Britain know better!
September 6, 2005