From Persepolis to Isfahan: Safeguarding Cultural Heritage – Soudavar Memorial Foundation

From Persepolis to Isfahan: Safeguarding Cultural Heritage

16 - 18 January 2015, London
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his conference focused on protecting the cultural heritage of Iran. As is well known cultural heritage worldwide is under threat, and from many countries there are stories of damage to monuments and archaeological sites allied to ongoing deterioration of cultural resources. At present, the problem is particularly acute in Iraq and Syria due to military activity and state-sponsored vandalism. Fortunately these problems do not exist in Iran. Nevertheless, monuments and archaeological sites are susceptible to damage caused by acid rain, sandstorms, earthquakes, floods, neglect, looting, and urban development. The aim of this conference was to review the extent of the damage, to raise awareness of the problem, to look at the framework within which protection is currently provided, to chart best practice worldwide, and suggest some practical measures to help and support Iranian colleagues.

Speakers include:

  • Professor Robert Hillenbrand, University of St Andrews – Keynote Speaker
  • Dr Chahryar Adle, President of the International Scientific Committee, UNESCO; ICOMOS, Paris; and Tehran
  • Dr Alireza Anisi, ICAR, Tehran
  • Dr Sussan Babaie, Courtauld Institute of Art
  • Dr Dariush Borbor, Tehran
  • Dr Rémy Boucharlat, CNRS, Lyons
  • Dr John Curtis, CEO, Iran Heritage Foundation
  • Dr Hassan Fazeli, ICAR, Tehran
  • Dr Wouter Henkelman, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris
  • Professor Jukka Jokilehto, ICCROM
  • Professor Marisa Laurenzi Tabasso, Rome
  • Professor Roger Matthews, University of Reading
  • Mr Bijan Rouhani, Vice President of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness, ICORP

There will also be a panel discussion involving:

  • Mr Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum
  • Professor Martin Roth, Director, Victoria & Albert Museum
  • Mr Jon Snow, Journalist and Newscaster
Soudavar Memorial Foundation Welcome Address - Mrs Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian

Welcome address given by Mrs Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian, Trustee of the Soudavar Memorial Foundation and member of the Organising Committee, at the conference

On behalf of the Soudavar Memorial Foundation I would like to welcome and thank the speakers and the guests for their participation and truly heart-warming interest. About three years ago, when I drew attention to the importance of Iran’s deteriorating natural and cultural heritage, I hardly imagined that my appeal would bear fruit so soon, but one can count on Vahid and Maryam Alaghband to make things happen. After last year’s highly successful environmental conference, our joint collaboration with Iran Heritage is focusing this year on cultural heritage, with the support of BIPS and the Flora Foundation. Let us hope it bodes well for collaborative efforts on cultural heritage at a time and in a neighbourhood where we have seen the testimony of great civilizations suffer serious and at times irreversible damage.

Cultural heritage is no less important than natural heritage. What biodiversity is to nature, cultural diversity is to identity and to its creative genius in all its manifestations. While the former is vital to our physical survival, the latter is essential to our understanding of who we are and as a source of inspiration to be drawn upon by generation after generation. Iran is particularly fortunate in being blessed with a diversity of monuments and archaeological sites that chart the progress of civilization not only on a national level but on a global scale. This renders the conservation of Iran’s rich heritage all the more urgent as it faces challenges from natural erosion, environmental pollution, vandalism, ignorance and bad taste, mindless urban development, and last but not least indiscriminate sanctions that affect both natural and cultural heritage to the detriment of all . We cannot afford to remain indifferent, if only for the sake of future generations. Although the challenges faced by Iran’s heritage are neither as dramatic nor as immediate as in Iraq and Syria, where part of an equally diverse and rich heritage is irretrievably lost, longer term the potential risks may prove to be as damaging if we do not act now. That is why we are assembled here with dedicated experts who have devoted their talents to the study and salvage of a heritage which we share with the world as our contribution.

I would like to conclude with an episode from the life of my mother, a known patron of the arts, who passed at age 101 last June. Years before she donated her art collection to her father’s endowment, the Malek Library and Museum in Tehran, where it can be seen in a special wing dedicated to her memory, she was sitting in her house in the centre of Tehran surrounded by her cherished artworks as missiles poured down at the height of Iran-Iraq War. Despite entreaties she refused to take shelter and abandon her collection to vandals and looters. To her the sanctity of cultural heritage was greater than the sanctity of human life. She viewed artistic creation as the material manifestation of the best that human genius can produce, and it outlives (or should outlive) our mortal coils to provide lessons from the past for future generations. It is in that spirit and in tribute to the sanctity of human genius that we are proud to support the cultural heritage of Iran as an integral part of human heritage.

Programme

Friday, 16 January

18.00 – Registration

18.30-19.30 – Keynote Lecture:

Prof. Robert Hillenbrand (University of St Andrews): The state of Iranian monuments in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan

19.30-20.30 – Drinks Reception

Saturday, 17 January

09.00 – Registration

Session 1

09.30-09.45 – Welcome addresses from Vahid Alaghband, Fatema Soudavar and Ali Ansari

09.45-10.15 – Dr John Curtis (CEO, Iran Heritage Foundation)
Protecting Cultural Heritage: A View Across the Middle East

10.15-11.15 – Panel discussion with Mr Neil MacGregor (Director of the British Museum), Prof. Martin Roth (Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum) and Mr Jon Snow (Journalist and Newscaster)

11.15-11.30 – Coffee

Session 2 (Chair: Prof. Pierre Briant)

11.30-1.30 – Persepolis Panel:-

Dr Alireza Askari Chaverdi & Prof Pierfrancesco Callieri
From Palace to Town: The Activities of the Iranian-Italian Joint Archaeological Mission at
Persepolis, 2008-2013

Dr Mohammad Hassan Talebian (Deputy Director ICHHTO, Tehran), Prof. Marisa Laurenzi Tabasso (Rome), Dr Alireza Askari Chaverdi (Shiraz), Prof. Pierfrancesco Callieri (Bologna) Recent Diagnostic Investigations on the Stone Monuments of the Persepolis Terrace

Dr Mehr Azar Soheil (ICOMOS, Rome)
The Conservation of Persepolis in the 21st-Century and Beyond

Prof. Michael Roaf (University of Munich and Oxford University)
Changing Attitudes to Persepolis

13.30-14.30 – Lunch

Session 3 (Chair: Dr Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis)

14.30-15.30 – Keynote Lecture

Dr Mohammad Hassan Talebian (Deputy Director of ICHHTO, Tehran)
Safeguarding Cultural Heritage in Iran (tbc)

15.30-16.00 – Dr Wouter Henkelman (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris)
The Present Condition of Darius’ Monument at Bisitun

16.00-16.30 – Tea

Session 4 (Chair: Prof. Robert Hillenbrand)

16.30-17.00 – Dr Sussan Babaie (Courtauld Institute of Art)
Isfahan: Architourism and Historic Preservation

17.00-17.30 – Dr Alireza Anisi (Iranian Research Center for Cultural Heritage and Tourism)
Tepe Hissar in Damghan: a Conservation and Management Plan

17.30-18.00 – Dr Chahryar Adle (President of the International Scientific Committee,
UNESCO; ICOMOS, Paris; and Tehran)
The Hectic Inscription of the First Iranian Sites on UNESCO’s List of the World Heritage
Properties in the Revolutionary Iran of 1979 and its Aftermath

Sunday, 18 January

Session 5 (Chair: Hassan Hakimian)

10.00-10.30 – Prof. Pierre Briant (Collège de France & Musée du Louvre, Paris)
Collecting and Disseminating Information About Iranian Cultural Heritage on the Web: The Achemenet-program (2000-2015)

10.30-11.00 – Bijan Rouhani (Vice President of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Risk Preparedness, ICORP)
Developing Disaster Risk Management Plan for Cultural Heritage Sites in Iran

11.00-11.30 – Coffee

Session 6 (Chair: Iradj Bagherzade)

11.30-12.00 – Prof. Roger Matthews (University of Reading)
Archaeological Research in the Cultural Heritage of Iran: Traditions, Realities, Prospects

12.00-12.30 – Dr Hassan Fazeli (University of Tehran)
Challenges and Opportunities in Salvage Archaeology in Iran: Some Current Issues

12.30-13.00 – Dr Rémy Boucharlat (CNRS, Lyons)
Rescue Excavations in the Sivand Dam: A Pioneering but Controversial Archaeological
Project

13.00-14.00 – Lunch

Session 7 (Chair: Bijan Rouhani)

14.00-14.30 – Dr Dariush Borbor (Tehran)
Threats to Cultural Heritage from Urban Development in Iran

14.30- 15.00 – Prof. Jukka Jokilehto (ICCROM)
Urban conservation from Persepolis to Isfahan

Session 8 (Moderators: Iradj Bagherzade, John Curtis, Hassan Hakimian)

15.00-16.00 – ‘The Way Forward’ – Discussion with Q&A from the Audience
Summing Up and Closing Remarks

16.00 – Tea and end of conference

Speakers

Welcome Addresses & John Curtis

Welcome Addresses

Vahid Alaghband, Chairman, Iran Heritage Foundation
Fatema Soudavar Farmanfarmaian, Trustee, Soudavar Memorial Foundation
Ali M. Ansari, President, British Institute of Persian Studies

Protecting Cultural Heritage: A View Across the Middle East

John Curtis, CEO, Iran Heritage Foundation

Neil MacGregor, Martin Roth, Jon Snow

Safeguarding Cultural Heritage

Panel discussion with Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, Martin Roth, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Jon Snow, Journalist and Newscaster

Mehr Azar Soheil

The Conservation of Persepolis in the Twenty-First Century and Beyond

Mehr Azar Soheil, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Rome

Michael Roaf

Changing Attitudes to Persepolis

Michael Roaf, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich and University of Oxford

Wouter Henkelman

The Present Condition of Darius’ Monument at Bisotun

Wouter Henkelman, École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris

Dariush Borbor

Threats to Cultural Heritage from Urban Development in Iran: A Case Study of the Urban Renewal of Mashhad Historical City Centre

Dariush Borbor, Research Institute and Library of Iranian Studies

Jukka Jokilehto

Urban Conservation from Persepolis to Isfahan: Reflections on Territorial Management of Iranian Cultural Heritage

Jukka Jokilehto, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM)

Sussan Babaie

Isfahan: Architourism and Historic Preservation

Sussan Babaie, Courtauld Institute of Art

Alireza Anisi

Tepe Hissar in Damghan: A Conservation and Management Plan

Alireza Anisi, Iranian Research Center for Cultural Heritage and Tourism

Chahryar Adle

The Inscription of the First Iranian Sites on UNESCO’s List of the World Heritage Properties in the Revolutionary Iran of 1979 and its Aftermath

Chahryar Adle, President of the International Scientific Committee, UNESCO; ICOMOS, Paris; and Tehran

Pierre Briant

Collecting and Disseminating Information about Iranian Cultural Heritage on the Web: The Achemenet-Programme (2000-2015)

Pierre Briant, Collège de France and Musée du Louvre, Paris

Roger Matthews

Archaeological Research in the Cultural Heritage of Iran: Traditions, Realities, Prospects

Roger Matthews, University of Reading

Hassan Fazeli Nashli

Challenges and Opportunities in Salvage Archaeology in Iran: Some Current Issues

Hassan Fazeli Nashli, University of Tehran

Rémy Boucharlat

Rescue Excavations in the Sivand Dam: A Pioneering but Controversial Archaeological Project

Rémy Boucharlat, Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Lyons)