The Italian Almanac

the tomb of Cyrus the Great

Restoring Cyrus

Italian experts will help Iran restore the tomb of Cyrus the Great (580-529BC), considered one of the most magnificent monuments of antiquity, Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said. An agreement signed in Tehran will see Italian archaeologists working with their Iranian colleagues for at least two years. The tomb in the ancient city of Pasargadae, in southern Iran, is considered the symbol of the country`s national identity and was already famous in ancient times. Greek conquerer Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) is reported to have visited the tomb in sign of respect after the fall of the Persian empire.

Italy had already offered its help restore the monument, which Iranian authorities are concerned may be affected by flooding if the construction of a proposed dam near the UNESCO World Heritage site goes ahead. Italian archaeologists have a history of working with Iran to safeguard important cultural heritage, including a project to restore part of the ancient city of Bam. Bam was devastated by an earthquake in December 2003 which claimed 40,000 lives.

While successfully conquering many neighbouring empires, Cyrus the Great was renowned for his magnanimous attitude and is thought to be responsible for the first known charter of human rights. Written in cuneiform script on a baked clay cylinder, the charter recounts his treatment of the Babylonians following his defeat of their empire in 539 BC.

The expertise of Italian restorers is valued worldwide and archaeologists frequently collaborate with foreign colleagues to conserve monuments and art. Bondi said restorers would use the latest state-of-the-art equipment developed by Italian restorers and technicians to save the monument.