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Khuzestan Province, Izeh- Part 5 - Fotos by Arash
Izeh is an ancient city in the Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran. Its history dates back to the Elam period, when it was known as Ayapir. Izeh has a very nice weather in spring and summer. In winter is the coldest city in the Khuzestan province. Population living Izeh are called Bakhteyari. Bakhteyari tribe is living in north part of Khuzestan area. It is an agricultural city rather than industrial city. The famous product is rice (locally called Berenj) came from south part of the city area called Maydavood and Chitanbeh. These two villages produce lots rice. Izeh also has mines of rocks and minerals. Izeh famous for its Dams and ancient monuments called Kolfarah which is located in north part of the city.
Tehran, 6 December 2006 (CHN Foreign Desk) -- Experts of Ayapir Cultural Heritage Research Center have requested urgent budget support to finance restoration of bas-reliefs and inscriptions of the historic sites of Eshkaft-e Salman and Kul-Farah, currently in a critical condition.
The two sites are located in the city of Izeh in the Iranian southwestern province of Khuzestan and feature many historic evidence mostly belonging to the Elamite civilization (3400 BC-550 BC).
Eshkaft-e Salman, otherwise known as Tarisha Temple, is home to the largest neo-Elamite inscription ever found in Iran. The inscription was spoiled recently by unidentified persons who poured paint on its bas-reliefs.
Following this incident, the Association of Cultural Heritage Supporters of Izeh asked the Iranian cultural heritage authorities to increase the number of their security guards in the area. Moreover, experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department of Izeh asked for budget to hire specialists to remove the paint from this ancient inscription. However, the budget has not yet been provided despite frequent warnings by cultural heritage experts.
This is while according to Mehdi Faraji, director of the archeology departments of Ayapir Research Center, the conditions of other bas-reliefs of Izeh’s historic sites are no better than the inscription of Eshkaft-e Salman, although he admits that the assault on the Elamite inscription is a disaster. He also said that salvation of the region’s historic bas-reliefs requires a “firm national will.”
An equivalent of 70,000 US dollars had previously been allocated to the research projects of Ayapir Cultural Heritage Center, but never released. Faraji emphasized that as soon as the due payment is received, the Center will take up the responsibility of restoring Eshkaft-e Salman’s bas-reliefs.
According to Faraji, Several official requests have so far been made through formal correspondence to Iran’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) and its provincial department in Khuzestan by Ja’far Mehrkian, director of Ayapir Research Center, warning about the dire consequences of the ignorance toward the region’s bas-reliefs.
On the other hand, in a letter to director of Khuzestan’s Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, director of ICHTO’s Department of Conservation and Renovation of Historic Sites, Jalil Golshan, has blamed lack of funding for insecurity in the historic sites of Izeh and requested the Department to immediately provide the necessary budget for restorations to begin.
“Despite all the correspondences made, no budget has yet been provided to protect and restore Izeh’s ancient bas-reliefs,” added Faraji.
The ancient sites of Izeh have the dubious distinction of suffering the most damage and the most illegal excavations and smuggling of all Iran’s historical sites. In addition, many construction projects, such as constructions of dams and a hotel in the region, are also threatening Izeh’s ancient sites.
Originally called Ayapir, Izeh is known for its large number of bas-reliefs as the Town of Rocks. It is situated at the middle of the Zagros mountain ranges and has the biggest collection of archeological sites and monuments.
The historic site of Eshkaft-e Salman (Salman’s Cave) contains four bas-reliefs carved on the mountain, two of which are inside a nearby cave. One of the bas-reliefs depicts a woman beside a man and a priest in a traditional ceremony.
Kul-Farah has large bas-reliefs showing ensembles of vertical and horizontal harps which are as large as Mesopotamian harps. The site also had several other bas-reliefs which were removed in order to be stored in vacuum glass display units, but cultural officials have not agreed with the idea.
Ayapir Cultural Heritage Center is determined to prepare the file of six Elamite bas-reliefs and inscriptions in Kul-Farah, the biggest worship place of ancient Iran during the Elamite period, in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites
By refers to Kul-e-Farah and Eshkaft-e-Salman cuneiform inscriptions, seems the name of Izeh in Elamit period was Ayapir and sometimes Ayatem. It appears by documents that at Neo-Elamit period, a local monarch whose name was Hani, at the same time of Shutruk-Nahunteh (the second)’s reign, has ruled at Izeh. It is important to mention that before.
An old Baxtiyâri cemetery with stone lions standing over the graves of the heroes, Izeh.W. Samner’s excavations at Tal-e-Maliyan in Fars province close to Perspolis, Izeh was known as Anshan. The exact name of Izeh after Elamit period until the entrance of Islam is unclear but as there are a lot of Elymaian rock relieves and some scattered sites, also because their land has mentioned in classical Greco-Roman texts as “Elymaid” or “Elymaian”; it is possible to accept this Greek title for Izeh at their rule time. With regard to Islamic texts, the Moslems by Abdollah-Ebn-e-Amer’s leading could overcome Izeh after capturing Ramhormoz; since then, with replacement of Persian “h” to Arabic “j” and as Arabs can’t pronounce Persian “z” , they called this town Idhaj. At culmination of the local dynasty of Lor Atabakan the greats (Atabakan-e-Lor-e-Bozorg) it was called Malamir or Malmir (king’s house or capital ); this name has been used until 1935 but after that with government’s approval, changed again as it’s present name to Izeh; however it’s sometimes called as Izeh-Malmir.
Izeh is an ancient town located at the northeast of Ahwaz (the centre of Suzutan province), it takes approximately 210 km from Ahwaz to Izeh by passing Ramhormoz and Baghemalek.
This town is situated at the middle of Zagros mountainous chain at the centre of one ancient route which reached from Xuzestan plain to the central plateau of Iran by Isfahan. As Izeh has two different climatic sorts; cold at the North and warm at the South; and because of the shortage of agricultural fields also based on it’s suitable environment for animal husbandry, one special immigrant group that known as Baxtiari Tribes, has formed it’s main dwellings since early times. These tribes used Izeh as a liberal land for feeding their animal flocks through moving toward the North and South.
Baxtiari, known as one of the oldest Iranian dwellings, are composed of Haftlangs and Chaharlangs.
Today, these nomads (Baxtiaries) which had used to live as immigrants, based on the new provincial divisions, continue their life as normal villagers in one place at some provinces such as Lorestan, Xuzestan, Kohkiluye-o-Boyer-Ahmad, Chaharmahal-o-Baxtiari and Isfahan.
The oval shape plain of Izeh is surrounded by high mountains and as there are two lakes and some springs at their foots, this land has provided suitable life conditions from the early times.
Eshkafts (rock shelters) of Izeh Mountains have been the earliest human settlements from 20,000 years ago up to resent.
This ancient town has the biggest gathered collection of archaeological sites and monuments, for instance, Sabz-Ali and Zebarjad-Tepes which refer to Zarzian period  and the rock relief galleries which show special religious sconces.
Fig. 2 — Xong-e AxhdarThe oldest Iranian rock relieves have been carved on the slope of Izeh mountains which are related to Early-Elamit period (20th century B.C.), the rock carvings of Shahsavar, Xong-e-Axhdar (Fig. 1) and Kul-e-Farah (Fig. 2) compose this carving group.
Another group which has more variety is related to Neo-Elamit period (12 centuries later) and consists of Eshkaft-e-Salman and Kul-e-Farah relieves. The last group of carvings includes some relieves which are contemporaneous with Seleucid-Parthian period .
The first traveller who has mentioned in his notes to ancient monuments of Izeh is English A.H. Layard. When Layard at 1841-1842 came to this region, Mohammad-Taqi Xan-e-Chaharlang were preparing a group of Baxtiari armies which was one of the great dangers for the central power of Qajars at Tehran , but opposed these difficulties. Layard continued his golden aim and as it’s mentioned at his memories he could visit rock relieves of Kul-e-Farah , Shkaft-e-Salman and Xong-e-Azhdar (Tang-e-Nowruzi). One another famous traveller who has mentioned to Izeh at 1842, is C.A;debode. Another adventurer was some of French archaeologists, who had settled at Susa and based on the treaty of 1895, started their excavations and through their journeys to Izeh, have some brief mentions about this land in their notes. Other foreigner researchers and travellers who visited Izeh and is important to regard them can mention to Madame Bishop, Schindler, W. Hints, E. Dewall and the last one, H. Wright who through two researching seasons, could survey the plain of Izeh and, J.Mehrkian, one of the field archaeologists of Iran cultural Heritage organization since 1982 with some excavations at Susa plain and some investigating programs at Izeh plain, has been starting his services to this valuable ancient museum.
His last researches in this plain are composed of some excavating activities at two sites: first at Taq-Tavileh Tepe which is located at the west side of Izeh and second, at small shelter of Shkaft cave, located at south side.