People, Travel

Giant Silos Cast Doubt Over Persepolis’ Future

Giant Silos Cast Doubt Over Persepolis’ FutureGiant Silos Cast Doubt Over Persepolis’ Future

Persepolis, arguably the first historical site that comes to mind when Iran is being discussed, might lose its world heritage status if nothing is done about the construction of two giant silos in its supposedly protected perimeter.

Inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979, Persepolis is already threatened by land subsidence due to depleting groundwater resources and is besieged by unrelenting lichens that experts say cannot yet be removed without harming the popular attraction site.

According to Mehr News Agency, the construction of two 24-meter-high silos in the vicinity of Persepolis may prompt UNESCO to vote in favor of delisting the ancient site, because the giant silos spoil Persepolis’ landscape.

“Authorities have repeatedly asked the people building the silos to move them elsewhere, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears,” said Masoud Maniati, the head of an activist group in Fars Province, where Persepolis is located.

“Unless they reduce the height of the silos, Persepolis is in big trouble.”

Legally, no structure in the vicinity of Persepolis can be taller than 8.5 meters.

“People want to know how it is possible for provincial authorities not to be able to stop the construction of these structures that is blatantly against the law. How can [the developers] ignore official warnings with no repercussions?” an incredulous Maniati asked.

“UNESCO has demanded to know what’s going on; I don’t know what [the authorities] are going to say.”

According to Masoud Rezaei, the site manager at Persepolis, construction of the silos has ceased.

“Work on the silos has been suspended by the authorities and we’re going to explore all possible legal channels to address the problem,” he said, warning that if Iran’s response to UNESCO’s inquiry “is not convincing, Persepolis could be dropped from the World Heritage List.”

To make matters worse, the silos are also in the vicinity of Naqsh-e-Rostam, an ancient necropolis about 12 kilometers northwest of Persepolis with unique rock reliefs from both the Achaemenid (550–330 BC) and Sassanid (224–651 AD) periods.

Naqsh-e-Rostam has been on the UNESCO Tentative List since 1997, but the construction of silos could derail Iran’s efforts to inscribe the site on the World Heritage List.

Only two sites—Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in 2007 and Germany’s Desden Elbe Valley in 2009—have been dropped from UNESCO’s list of heritage sites.