Following the sensational verdict of the American Federal Court to confiscate Iranian artifacts in favor of families of Israeli victim of the 1997 suicide bombing in Jerusalem, the second shock has came by the statements made by Abbas Salimi Namin, Director of the Office for Iranian Contemporary History Studies, who has claimed that Persepolis was constructed on the remains of an Elamite city by non-Persian tribes, most probably the Russians! This claim has been strongly rejected based on valid reasons by large numbers of Iranian experts and historians who refused to accept such a remote idea. Using strong evidence, Iranian experts all agreed that only Achaemenids are accredited for construction of Persepolis.
Parviz Rajabi is one of those experts who have been issuing statements to prove that this claim is absolutely groundless. “Although the ministerial documents were written in Elamite language during the Acahemenid era, the civilization that existed in Persepolis historical site belonged only to the Achaemenid dynasty and not any other tribe or dynasty,” said Dr. Parviz Rajabi, Iranian historians and the author of “Forgotten Millennia”.
In an interview with CHN, Rajabi insisted that Persepolis historical site which was the throne of the Achaemenid kings has its roots in the Achaemenid civilization, and its archive and treasury department which still exists in the area was a place for keeping those inscriptions that are now being kept at University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and have turned into a subject for heated debates.
Although Alexander the Great is mainly responsible for devastating the ancient palace of Persepolis by setting it on fire, Rajabi believes that Alexander unintentionally helped preserving the earthen inscriptions of this palace as the ministerial documents and earthen inscriptions of the Achaemenid throne were turned into bricks due to the excessive heat created by fire and did not destroyed over time.
“Some 3000 earthen inscriptions were unearthed during the archeological excavations in Persepolis in 1934which were transferred to the United States to be studied at University of Chicago. In addition to these inscriptions, 400 boxes full of antique objects were also taken out of the country,” added Rajabi.
Last week, Salimi Namin claimed that the existing inscriptions at Chicago University belong to the Elamit civilization and not Achaemenid. This claim was unanimously rejected by other historians believe that the discovered earthen inscriptions in Persepolis show that this historical complex was constructed by the order of Darius I, the Achaemenid king, in which the art of the Achaemenids from all its colonies were implemented.
“As Darius the Great has mentioned in his inscription, Persepolis was constructed by his order. Yet the artistic and professional abilities of other states in the realm of the Achaemenid Empire were also implemented in its construction. Maybe, some of the stone and silver works used in the decoration of Persepolis were created by foreign artists; however, they were designed by Persian architectures by the order of the Achaemenid King,” said Abdolmajid Arfaei, researcher of ancient languages.
In response to the claim made by Salimi Namin that Persepolis was a semi-constructed monument and Persian architectural style was not used in it and that it belonged to the civilization of Russian tribes (!) Arfaei explains that not only Darius but all the Achaemenid kings ordered to carve an inscription by completing the construction of every part of Persepolis to mark the process of construction. “These inscriptions were written in three languages: Ancient Persian, Elamit, and Babylonian. Besides, Persepolis was not a semi-constructed monument but it was a gigantic complex which was under continual construction and restoration during the Achaemenid dynastic era.
Despite the claim by Salimi Namin that the inscriptions at University of Chicago are in Elamite language and some important information were hidden in them about the Elamite civilization which were destroyed by archaeologists, Arfaei believes that all these inscriptions are absolutely Achaemenid documents. “I have seen and undertaken studies on these inscriptions several times. These earthen inscriptions are the accounting documents of the Achaemenid kings which they collected about their empire,” said Arfaei.
What came as a surprise to most experts and archeologists after they heard Salimi Namin’s claims was that despite so much evidence, the Achaemenid identity of these artifacts has been ignored by him. “More than 33 subjects can be seen carved in these inscriptions such as: transportation rates, financial accounts, paid expenses, workers’ wages, name of the employees in the Persepolis complex, transfer expenses, child allowance paid to mothers who gave birth, and many other similar cases, most of which related to the territory of the Achaemenid kings,” added Arfaei.
Alireza Asgari, archeologist in Fars province and expert in Achaemenid and post-Achaemenid studies, is also another archeologist who has strongly rejeted the claims made by Salimi Namin. “Denying the construction of Persepolis by Persians is just like denying it is day after seeing the sun in the sky. The order of Darius the Great which can be seen on four big inscriptions indicates that he asked for construction of Apadana when such palace did not exist. This by itself rejects all the nonsense claims that Persepolis was not constructed by the Persians,” said Alireza Asgari.
Apadana was the ceremonial palace in the Persepolis complex constructed to celebrate special events, especially Norouz (Persian New Year celebrated on 21st of March). Having 36 columns, Apadana was the largest monuments in Persepolis.
Regarding Namin’s claim that the Jews attacked Persia during the reign of Xerxes, Achaemenid king who ruled from 485 to 465 BC, and massacred 77,000 people, Asghari believes that this claim has no ground either and there exists sufficient evidence to reject it. “In many historical books, it has been mentioned that Achaemenid kings were very moral and just and respected all the religions and cultures in the extent of their domain. The Jews never massacred Persians during the reign of Xerxes because Cyrus the Great, the Achaemenid king, was very popular and highly respected among the Jews and they looked at him as their savior,” added Asghari.
Referring to another claim by Namin where he says that it was not Muslim Arabs who attacked Iran for the first time, Asgari believes that there are also numerous evidence about the attack of Arabs to Iran and their prevail over the Persian nation and it does not have any relation with the Islamic beliefs. “We do not have the right to distort the history and deny some facts due to religious prejudices,” explained Asghari.
In any case, it seems the unsupported statements made by the Director of the Office for Iranian Contemporary History Studies, who has a BS in computer science from Britain and has five years of research experience in history, has not only offended the national feelings of many Iranians, it also has created a disturbance in the public opinion by trying to distort thousands of years of history and civilization which part of the identity of 70 million Iranians and their source of pride. According to Dr. Mir Abedin Kaboli, archeologist of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization of Iran, the existing reasons that Persepolis was constructed by Persians during the Achaemenid dynasty are strong enough to reject all such baseless claims; yet “the people who claim something else must present their proofs and evidence.” It is undoubtedly correct to argue that expressing such groundless claims is contrary to a person’s duty to protect his or her ancient history which must be safely transferred to the next generations.