Historic site in Iran turned into garbage dump, official complains

AFP: One of Iran's main historical sites, the ancient Elamite capital of Susa, has been used for the secret nightly dumping  of rubbish by the local municipality, a culture official in the area told AFP Tuesday. AFP

TEHRAN - One of Iran's main historical sites, the ancient Elamite capital of Susa, has been used for the secret nightly dumping of rubbish by the local municipality, a culture official in the area told AFP Tuesday.

"We have filed several complaints against the municipality, but it firmly denies its workers have ever done such a thing -- even though they have been frequently spotted by our guards," said the head of the Cultural Heritage Organisation in Shush, the modern name for Susa.

But the official, Mahdi Ghanbari, also complained that the muncipality were also planning to build a bus depot near the string of historic sites -- a further blow following years of illegal excavations.

"The 16 hectare site has not been fully excavated. There are still thousands of precious objects to be unearthed." Ghanbari complained, saying the planned bus depot would be situated near an ancient palace of the Persian king Darius the Great.

Susa was an important and flourishing city before the advent of Islam in Iran and the centre of the Elamite Empire (around 2500-644 B.C.). It is situated in the far southwestern province of Khuzestan and adjacent to the border with Iraq.

The ancient city is also mentioned in Old Testament as the place where the prophet Daniel lived. He is also reputed to have been buried there.

Artefacts unearthed from the area include a plaque reputed to be the world's first constitution, currently preserved at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

"What we need is a much larger staff and a local station to safeguard the site. We do not even have night patrols," Ghanbari said in a telephone interview.