Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ganjali Khan Bath


Ganjali Khan was one of the famous rulers during the reign of Shah Abbas of Safavid. As the ruler of Kerman province he constructed many monuments and buildings, displaying a modern architectural style of the time. Ganjali Khan complex is composed of a school, a square, a caravansary, a public bath, a water reservoir, a mint house, a mosque and a bazaar. A number of inscriptions laid inside the complex indicate the exact date when these places have been built. The architect of the complex was Mohammad Soltani from Yazd.


The Ganjali Khan Bath in the complex is situated on the southern side of the rectangular complex. This is a unique work of architecture with beautiful tile works, paintings, stuccos, and arches. The entrance of this bath has been artistically painted with ornaments of the Safavid era. The most interesting feature of its architectural finish is that the sculptured stones of the ceiling coincides with that of the flooring.


An exquisite blend of art and architecture, this building has a staggered entrance which opens into six spacious apses. Upon entering the Bath, a dim, narrow, curving aisle leads visitor to an octagonal vestibule, itself linked to the cloakroom by a similar aisle. It has six separate changing rooms for the various social classes: the sayyeds, clergy, khans, wealthy merchants, and the common people. Currently in each one of these sections, two statues portray this scene. From the changing rooms one enters the bath proper, an area of 46 by 30 meters. Narrow passages lead to a row of halls, each of which had a specific use such as massages and hot and cold baths. The main bath comprises of a cold water pool with a ceiling similar to that of a tent supported by eight beautiful pillars.


The bath rendered service no later than 60 years ago. The ceiling of the bath was originally covered with fine marble that admitted light from the outside. Later marble was replaced by glass. Sunlight pours in from the roof overhead, creating superb light effects. Water from an underground qanat, which the Khan himself twice excavated, flowed out in the city square and fed the city cistern. Although the cistern was built in the time of Ganjali Khan, it is known by the name of his son Ali Morad Khan, whose name is in the inscription. The cistern is 19.5 by 10 x 9 meters can hold some two million liters of water.


The Ganjali Khan Bath currently serves as an anthropology museum and attracts an increasing number of Iranian and foreign tourists. In the closet section and main yard of the bath there are many life-like statues which demonstrate how a bathhouse functioned, bringing back the memory of everyday scenes from its past.. These statues were designed at Tehran University's faculty of fine arts in 1973 and then transferred to this museum. All garments and exhibited objects are period pieces: razors, phials for rose perfumes and long-stemmed pipes to be enjoyed after the bath.


Lacking a proper sewage system, wells have been dug in Kerman to discharge waste. Most of these wells are now brimming with filth, menacing the area of historical buildings, mostly made of adobe and mud-brick. Floating on this sea of sewage, Kerman’s historical fabric is threatened by crawling damp, which has already damaged the Ganjali Khan Bath and grand Bazaar.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Damavand

(Picture courtesy of mused.pixelflake.com)

Mount Damavand is a dormant volcano and the highest peak in Iran. Located in the middle Alborz Range, and at 5,671 meters, it is the highest point in the Middle East and the highest volcano in all of Asia. Though not volcanically active, there are fumaroles near the summit crater that deposit sulfur. The mountain is located near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, in Amol county, Mazandaran, 66 kilometers northeast of Tehran.


The volcano itself is fairly regular but not symmetrical. It is a small volcanic structure at its base (only 400 square kilometers). The base of the volcano rests unevenly on a very folded geological substratum of compacted sediments, clays, and often unstable schists and limestone. Its extreme elevation is due to an underlying foundation rising as high as 2,400 meters and an additional 1,400 meters higher because of the northern lava flows.


At present volcanic activity is manifested only in the presence of warm and thermal springs with therapeutic qualities which have formed travertine deposits and remain very popular. These mineral hot springs are mainly located on the volcano's flanks and at the base, giving evidence of volcanic heat comparatively near the surface of the earth. While no historic eruptions have been recorded, hot springs at the base and on the flanks, and fumaroles and solfatara near the summit, indicate a hot or cooling magma body still present beneath the volcano, so that Damavand is a potentially active volcano. The most important of these hot springs are located in Larijan village in the district of Larijan in Lar Valley. The water from this spring is useful in the treatment of chronic wounds and skin diseases. Near these springs there are public baths with small pools for public use.


The oldest known name of this peak dates back to the Sassanid era where it was known as Donbavand (meaning mountain of many faces). After several intermediate names (including Donyavand in the spoken dialect) the name Damavand was established by Ferdosi, who abandoned the root donb for the root dama, meaning snowstorm.


Damavand has, as any cursory reading of Persian literature will indicate, a special place in the Persian mythology and folklore. The popular traditions of the villages around the mountain are filled with legends and superstitions of which traces can be found in place names, as in the upper valley of the Lar, where a small ravine sprinkled with marshes, warm springs, and geysers is named Div Asiab (the devil’s mill).


Damavand is the symbol of Iranian resistance against foreign rule in Persian poetry and literature. In Zoroastrian texts and mythology, the three-headed dragon Azi Dahaka was chained within Mount Damavand, there to remain until the end of the world. In a later version of the same legend, the tyrant Zahhak was also chained in a cave somewhere in mount Damavand after being defeated by Kaveh and Fereydoon. The mountain was also the scene of an episode in the story of Rostam and Esfandiar. Damavand is also significant to the Iranian legend of the heroic Iranian archer Arash Kamangir and a suspected root for Tiregan Festival.

There are at least 16 known routes to the summit which have different difficulties. Some of them are very dangerous and need rock climbing. The most popular route is the Southern Route which has step stamps and also a camp at 4,220 meters. The longest route is the Northeastern and it takes two whole days to reach the summit starting from downhill village of Nandal and a night stay at Takht’e Fereydoun (elevation 4300 m), a two-story shelter. The western route is famous for its sunset view. Simorgh shelter in this route at 4,100 meters is a newly constructed shelter with two stories. There is a frozen waterfall/icefall about 12 meters tall and the elevation of 5,100 meters is the highest fall in Iran and Middle East.

A proposal had been made by a group of Iranian mountaineers to register the highest peak in the Middle East, Mount Damavand, as a national heritage site. There were also talks of renaming Tiregan Festival after Mount Damavand. While Mount Damavand Day did not officially replace Tiregan, however, the two holidays have been celebrated within a few days of one another.

Mohammad Mosaddegh


Mohammad Mosaddegh (May 19, 1882 – March 5, 1967) was a major figure in modern Iranian history who served as the Prime Minister of Iran from 1951 to 1953 when he was removed from power by a coup d'├ętat. From an aristocratic background, Mosaddegh was an author, administrator, lawyer, prominent parliamentarian, and statesman, famous for his passionate opposition to foreign intervention in Iran. He is most famous as the architect of the nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been under British control through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC), (later British Petroleum or BP), and which is thought by many to be the reason for his deposition.

Mossadeq started his career in Iranian politics with the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, when at the age of 24, he was elected from Isfahan to the newly inaugurated Persian Parliament, the Majles of Iran. In 1920, after being self-exiled to Switzerland in protest at the Anglo-Persian Treaty of 1919, he was invited by the new Persian Prime Minister, Hassan Pirnia (Moshir-ed-Dowleh), to become his Minister of Justice; but while en route to Tehran, he was asked by the people of Shiraz to become Governor of the Fars Province. He was later appointed Finance Minister, in the government of Ahmad Ghavam (Ghavam os-Saltaneh) in 1921, and then Foreign Minister in the government of Moshir-ed-Dowleh in June 1923. He then became Governor of the Azerbaijan Province. In 1923, he was re-elected to the Majles and voted against the selection of the Prime Minister Reza Khan as the new Shah of Persia.


By 1944, Reza Shah Pahlavi had abdicated, and Mosaddegh was once again elected to parliament. This time he took the lead of Jebhe Melli, an organization he had founded with nineteen others like Dr.Hossein Fatemi, Ahmad Zirakzadeh, Ali Shayegan and Karim Sanjabi, aiming to establish democracy and end the foreign presence in Iranian politics, especially by nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s (AIOC) operations in Iran.

Most of Iran’s oil reserves were in the Persian Gulf area and had been developed by the British Anglo-Iranian Oil company and exported to Britain. For a number of reasons — a growing consciousness of how little Iran was getting from the Anglo-Iranian Oil company for its oil; refusal of AIOC to offer of a ‘50–50% profit sharing deal’ to Iran as Aramco had to Saudi Arabia; anger over Iran’s defeat and occupation by the Allied powers — nationalization of oil was an important and popular issue with a broad cross-section of the Iranian people. After negotiations for higher oil royalties failed, on 15 March and 20 March 1951, the Iranian Majles and Senate voted to nationalize the British-owned and operated AIOC, taking control of Iran’s oil industry.


Another force for nationalization was the Tudeh or Communist party. In early April 1951 the party unleashed nationwide strikes and riots in protest against delays in nationalization of the oil industry along with low wages and bad housing in oil industry. This display of strength made an impact on the deputies of the Majles.
On April 28, 1951, the Majles named Mosaddegh as new prime minister by a vote of 79–12. Aware of Mosaddegh’s rising popularity and political power, the young Shah appointed Mosaddegh to the Premiership. On May 1st, Mosaddegh nationalized the AIOC, canceling its oil concession due to expire in 1993 and expropriating its assets. The next month a committee of five majles deputies was sent to Khuzestan to enforce the nationalization. Mosaddegh explained his nationalization policy in a June, 21 1951 speech:

"Our long years of negotiations with foreign countries… have yielded no results this far. With the oil revenues we could meet our entire budget and combat poverty, disease, and backwardness among our people. The Iranian state prefers to take over the production of petroleum itself. The company should do nothing else but return its property to the rightful owners. The nationalization law provide that 25% of the net profits on oil be set aside to meet all the legitimate claims of the company for compensation… It has been asserted abroad that Iran intends to expel the foreign oil experts from the country and then shut down oil installations. Not only is this allegation absurd; it is utter invention…"

The confrontation between Iran and Britain escalated from there with Mosaddegh’s government refusing to allow the British any involvement in Iran’s oil industry, and Britain making sure Iran could sell no oil. The AIOC evacuated its technicians and closed down the oil installations. Under nationalized management many refineries lacked the trained technicians that were needed to continue production. The British government announced a de facto blockade and reinforced its naval force in the Persian Gulf and lodged complaints against Iran before the United Nations Security Council. The entire Iranian oil industry came to a virtual standstill, oil production dropping from 241.4 million barrels in 1950 to 10.6 million in 1952. This Abadan Crisis reduced Iran’s oil income to almost nil, putting a severe strain on the implementation of Mosaddegh’s promised domestic reforms.

Still enormously popular in late 1951, Mosaddegh called elections. His base of support was in urban areas and not in the provinces. This fact was reflected in the rejection of Mosaddegh's bill for electoral reform (which no longer disqualified illiterates from electoral participation) by the conservative bloc, on the grounds that it would “unjustly discriminate patriots who had been voting for the last forty years.”

The 17th Majles convened on February 1952. Tension soon began to escalate in Majles. Conservative opponents refused to grant Mosaddegh special powers to deal with the economic crisis caused by the sharp drop in revenue and voiced regional grievances against the capital Tehran, while the National Front waged a propaganda war against the landed upper class. On July 16, 1952, during the royal approval of his new cabinet, Mosaddegh insisted on the constitutional prerogative of the prime minister to name a Minister of War and the Chief of Staff, something the Shah had done hitherto. The Shah refused, and Mosaddegh announced his resignation appealing directly to the public for support, pronouncing that ‘in the present situation, the struggle started by the Iranian people cannot be brought to a victorious conclusion’.

Veteran politician Ahmad Ghavam, also known as Ghavam os-Saltaneh, was appointed as Iran’s new prime minister. On the day of his appointment, he announced his intention to resume negotiations with the British to end the oil dispute, a reversal of Mosaddegh’s policy. The National Front, along with various Nationalist, Islamist, and socialist parties and groups including Tudeh, responded by calling for protests, strikes and mass demonstrations in favor of Mosaddegh. Major strikes broke out in all of Iran’s major towns, with the Bazaar closing down in Tehran. After five days of mass demonstrations on the 30th of Tir on the Iranian calendar, military commanders, ordered their troops back to barracks, fearful of overstraining the enlisted men’s loyalty and left Tehran in the hands of the protesters. Frightened by the unrest, Shah dismissed Ghavam and re-appointed Mosaddegh, granting him the full control of the military he had previously demanded.

With further rise of his popularity, a greatly strengthened Mosaddegh convinced the parliament to grant him emergency powers for six months to decree any law he felt necessary for obtaining not only financial solvency, but also electoral, judicial, and educational reforms. Mosaddegh appointed Ayatollah Kashani as house speaker. Kashani’s Islamic scholars, as well as the Tudeh Party, proved to be two of Mosaddegh’s key political allies, although both relationships were often strained.
With his emergency powers, Mosaddegh tried to strengthen the democratically-elected political institutions by limiting the monarchy’s unconstitutional powers, cutting Shah’s personal budget, forbidding him to communicate directly with foreign diplomats, transferring royal lands back to the state, expelling his politically active sister Ashraf Pahlavi. In January 1953 Mosaddegh successfully pressed Parliament to extend emergency powers for another 12 months. With these powers, he decreed a land reform law that establishes village councils and increases in peasants shares of production. This weakened the landed aristocracy, abolishing Iran’s centuries-old feudal agriculture sector. However during this time Iranians were becoming poorer and unhappier by the day thanks to the British boycott.


Mosaddegh's political coalition began to fray, his enemies increasing in number.
Partly through the efforts of Iranians working as British agents, several former members of Mosaddegh's coalition turned against him. They included Muzzaffar Bazaui, head of the worker-based Toilers party; Hussein Makki, who had helped lead the takeover of the Abadan refinery and was at one point considered Mosaddegh's heir apparent; and most outspokenly Ayatollah Kashani, who damned Mosaddegh with the vitriol he had once reserved for the British.

The government of the United Kingdom had grown increasingly distressed over Mosaddegh’s policies and was especially bitter over the loss of their control of the Iranian oil industry. Repeated attempts to reach a settlement had failed. Unable to resolve the issue single handedly due to its post-World War II problems, Britain looked towards the United States to settle the issue. Despite Mosaddegh's open disgust with socialism, Winston Churchill told the United States that Mosaddegh was increasingly turning towards communism and was moving Iran towards the Soviet sphere at a time of high Cold War fears. As a result the United States and Britain began to publicly denounce Mosaddegh’s policies for Iran as harmful to the country. In the mean time the already precarious alliance between Mosaddegh and Kashani was severed in January 1953, when Kashani opposed Mosaddegh’s demand that his increased powers be extended for a period of one year.

In November and December 1952, British intelligence officials suggested to American intelligence that the prime minister should be ousted. The new US administration under Dwight D. Eisenhower and the British government under Winston Churchill agreed to work together toward Mosaddegh’s removal. On April 4, 1953, CIA director Dulles approved $1 million to be used in any way that would bring about the fall of Mosaddegh. Soon the CIA’s Tehran station started to launch a propaganda campaign against Mosaddegh. In early June, American and British intelligence officials met again and put the finishing touches on the strategy. Soon afterward the chief of the CIA’s Near East and Africa division, Kermit Roosevelt, Jr. the grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, arrived in Tehran to direct it. The plot, known as Operation Ajax, centered on convincing Iran’s monarch to issue a decree to dismiss Mosaddegh from office, as he had attempted some months earlier.

Mosaddegh became aware of the plots against him and grew increasingly wary of conspirators acting within his government. Soon pro-Mosaddegh supporters, actually paid plants of the U.S. operation, threatened Muslim leaders with savage punishment if they opposed Mosaddegh, giving the carefully engineered impression that Mosaddegh was cracking down on dissent, and stirring anti-Mosaddegh sentiments within the religious community through paid violence and smears. Mosaddegh then moved to dissolve the heavily-bribed parliament, under his emergency powers. After taking the additional step of abolishing the Constitutional guarantee of a secret ballot, Mosaddegh’s victory in the national plebiscite was assured. The electorate was forced into a non-secret ballot and Mosaddegh won 99.93% of the vote. The tactics employed by Mosaddegh to remain in power were dictatorial in their result, playing into the propaganda efforts of those who plotted to have him removed. Parliament was suspended indefinitely, and Mosaddegh’s emergency powers were extended.

In August 1953, Mosaddegh attempted to convince the Shah to leave the country and allow him control over the government. The Shah flew to Baghdad and from there hid safely in Rome, Italy. He actually signed two decrees, one dismissing Mosaddegh and the other nominating the CIA's choice, General Fazlollah Zahedi, as Prime Minister. These decrees, were specifically written as dictated by Donald Wilbur the CIA architect of the plan, which were designed as a major part of Wilbur's strategy to give the impression of legitimacy to the secret coup.


Soon, massive protests were engineered by Roosevelt's team across the city, and in far-reaching areas, tribesmen were paid to be at the ready to assist the coup. Fake anti- and pro-monarchy protesters, both paid by Roosevelt, violently clashed in the streets, looting and burning mosques and newspapers, leaving almost 300 dead. The pro-monarchy leadership, chosen, hidden and finally unleashed at the right moment by the CIA team, led by retired army General and former Minister of Interior in Mosaddegh’s cabinet, Fazlollah Zahedi joined with underworld figures such as the Rashidian brothers and local strongman Shaban Jafari, to gain the upper hand on August 19, 1953. The military joined on cue: pro-Shah tank regiments stormed the capital and bombarded the prime minister’s official residence. Mosaddegh managed to flee from the mob that set in to ransack his house, and, the following day, surrendered to General Zahedi, who was meanwhile set up by the CIA with makeshift headquarters at the Officers' Club. Mosaddegh was arrested at the Officers' Club and transferred to a military jail shortly after.

Shortly after the return of the Shah, on August 22, 1953, from his flight to Rome, Mosaddegh was tried by a military tribunal for high treason. Zahedi and the Shah were inclined, however, to spare the man’s life. Mosaddegh received a sentence of 3 years in solitary confinement at a military jail and was exiled to his village not far from Tehran, where he remained under house arrest on his estate until his death, on 5 March 1967.

Zahedi’s new government soon reached an agreement with foreign oil companies to form a consortium and restore the flow of Iranian oil to world markets in substantial quantities, giving the U.S. and Great Britain the lion's share of Iran's oil. The consortium agreed to share profits on a 50-50 basis with Iran, but not to open its books to Iranian auditors or to allow Iranians onto its board of directors. In return, the U.S. massively funded the Shah's resulting dictatorship, including his army and brutal secret police force, SAVAK.

For his sudden rise in popularity inside and outside of Iran, his defiance of the British, and his fight for democracy, Mosaddegh was named as Time Magazine’s 1951 Man of the Year.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Siraf Port


Siraf, known today as Taheri Port, was a legendary ancient Sassanid port, with foundations dating back to the Parthian dynasty. It was located on the north shore of the Persian Gulf in what is now the Iranian province of Bushehr and was destroyed around 970 AD. Its ruins are approximately 220 kilometers east of Bushehr and 380 kilometers west of Bandar Abbas. Siraf controlled three ports: Taheri Port, Kangan Port and Dayer Port. Siraf was originally was known as Ardeshir Ab due to the fact that Ardeshir Babakan set up a waterway network here in order to facilitate port activities for which he was responsible.


According to David Whitehouse, one of the first archaeologists to excavate the ancient ruins of Siraf, marine trade between the Persian Gulf and Far East lands began to flourish at this port because of the vast expansion of trade in consumer goods and luxury items at the time. The first contact between Siraf and China occurred in 185 AD and by the 4th century it was a busy port. However, over time trade routes shifted to the Red Sea and Siraf was forgotten. Discovered there in past archaeological excavations are ivory objects from east Africa, pieces of stone from India, and lapis from Afghanistan. There are ruins of the luxurious houses of extremely rich traders who made their wealth through the port's success.


One of the historical structures at Siraf is the Nassori Castle, built in the 19th century. The fort was well constructed with massive brick walls and towers enclosing courtyards for public and private use. Its entrance is a large wooden door that faces the Persian Gulf and beyond the door are stairwells leading to the second floor. The most remarkable feature of the fort is a balcony decorated with eighteen scenes from the Shahnameh in molded and carved stucco. They represent events from the lives of the great heroes such as Rostam and scenes with rulers such as Anooshiravan. They were probably adapted and copied from the illustrations to lithographed texts of the Shahnameh. As yet they are unique both as examples of pictorial interpretation of the Shahnameh and of Qajar decoration.


In addition to the Castle, Siraf also is home to an ancient congressional mosque and cemetery. David Whitehouse found evidence that the earliest mosque at Siraf dates to the 9th century and are remains from the Parthian and Sassanid eras. He found ruins of a congregational mosque surrounded by many smaller mosques. In 2009 archaeologists identified Sasanian layers and artifacts near the mosque. Furthermore burial sites also has been discovered in Siraf. The rock cut tombs of the burial site bear a similarity to those found in Kharg Island and may have belonged to the region’s Jewish community. There are also chamber tombs, typical of Zoroastrian Towers of Silence, found in the hillsides behind Siraf.


In 2006 remains of a shipwreck found in the Persian Gulf near the port of Siraf. Initial studies on the shipwreck revealed that it was a merchant ship belonging to either the Parthian (248 BCE - 224 CE) or Sassanid (224-651 CE) dynastic eras. It was discovered at sunken at a depth of 70 meters. More than 40 ceramic amphora-like jars with no handle were filmed by an underwater robot. The ceramic jars were found scattered along the seabed which revealed the functionality of the ship as a merchant. Attempts to save the sunken ship cannot be completed with the current state of technology and experience in Iran’s underwater archeology.


Siraf has not been yet registered on the list of national heritage sites of Iran. This is needed so that it will be preserved and maintained.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Karoon River


The Karoon River is Iran's most effluent, and its only navigable, river. It is 720 km long and rises in the Zard Kooh mountains of the Bakhtiari district in the Zagros range, receiving many tributaries, such as the Dez and the Koohrang, before passing through the capital of the Khuzestan province of Iran, the city of Ahvaz.


The Karoon continues toward the Persian Gulf, forking into two primary branches on its delta: the Bahmanshir and the Haffar that joins Arvand River, emptying into the Persian Gulf. The important Island of Abadan is located between these two branches of the Karoon. The port city of Khorramshahr is divided from the Island of Abadan by the Haffar branch. Seasonal variation in discharge rate shows the lowest water level to be in October, and the highest, as the result of combined precipitation and meltwater, in April.


Studies undertaken by a group of Belgian scientists suggest the Karoon River has taken a central course, abandoning its westward course over the last 6,000 years. Formerly the Karoon had a lower course that was separated from and to the east of Arvand River. There are three old riverbeds (apparently used successively) that branch off at the left of the Karoon; they are known as Shatt al-Qadimi, Shatt al-Ameh, and Bahmanshir River. Bahmanshir River delimits the eastern edge of the island of Abadan. In 1765, however, the river changed to its present course through the apparently artificial Haffar Channel. According to the geographer al-Maqdisi, this channel was dug in 986 to facilitate water communication between Ahvaz and Basra. This change resulted in frontier disputes between the Ottoman Empire and Iran, disputes that were settled by the treaty of Erzurum (1847), giving Iran access to the eastern bank of Arvand River and the right to use the waterway.


The Karoon up to Ahvaz was opened to international navigation in 1888, and boat services were later established between Ahvaz and Band Qir. Shipping on the lower course of the Karoon has become increasingly important owing to oil drilling and refining in the vicinity. To increase the water supply of Isfahan, a dam and tunnel on the river were completed in 1971.


The river banks consist of seasonally flooded arable land with scattered ponds and permanent marshy areas, on the east bank. Most of the area dries out completely in the summer but a few of the deeper pools and meandering watercourses remain wet and provide some breeding habitat for waterfowl. The region is a very important wintering area for geese, teal, cranes and ducks. The occasional bull shark periodically patrols the River.


In two of several competing theories about the origins and location of the Garden of Eden the Karoon is presumed to be the Gihon River that is described in the Biblical book of Genesis. The strongest of these theories propounded by archeologist Juris Zarins places the Garden of Eden at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf, fed by the four rivers Tigris, Euphrates, Gihon Karoon and Pishon.


The name of the river is derived from the mountain peak—Koohrang that serves as its source.


One of the main attractions of the River is the White Bridge which stretches half a kilometer and was constructed in 1936. It is a suspension bridge and consists of two steel arcs and sits approximately 13 meters above the River. Several dams were built or are under construction on Karoon, some perhaps having more ill effects than benefits:

• Shahid Abbaspour (Karoon I) Dam - Spans a crest length of 383 meters and a height of 203 meters.

• Karoon II Dam - Stands at a height of 130 meters. The construction of this dam resulted in much of the Susa historical plain in the Khuzestan province, the historic birthplace of Elamite and Achaemenid civilizations, along with all its invaluable archeological sites to be submerged.

• Karoon III Dam – Spans a crest length of 462 meters and a height of 205 meters. Experts of the Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organization were able to save the stone lions and tombstones in a graveyard in Khuzestan which were in danger of being submerged by the rising waters of the reservoir of the Karoon II Dam. The stone lions and tombstones of the Zir Pass in the Izeh region of Khuzestan Province, symbols of the bravery of Bakhtiari heroes 200 years ago, were finally transferred to a safe place. Prior to the construction of this dam 18 sites from the Epipaleolithic period (20,000-10,000 BCE) had been identified, including 13 caves and four rock shelters in the region. The river valley also has a large number of rock-carved reliefs, graves, ancient caves and other remains from the Elamite era (2700 BCE-645 BCE), many of which are now underwater.

• Karoon IV Dam - Spans a crest length of 440 meters and a height of 230 meters.

• Masjed Soleiman Dam - Spans a crest length of 480 meters and a height of 164 meters.

• Gotvand Dam – Spans a crest length of 202 meters and a height of 27 meters.


In 2003 the Shadravan Dyke Bridge on Karoon River, which had withstood the river’s heavy floods for years, was to be restored and reconstructed. The bridge was once 550 meters long and included 35 spans before, but due to negligence only parts of it and 30 of its spans existed, three of which had been completely restored. The Cultural Heritage Organization were trying to restore the bridge based on its Sassanian style.


In 2009, an Italian team specializing in lighting design had been invited to bring sparkling nights back to Karoon River. The team headed by Piero Castiglioni was to work on designing luminaries and lighting systems alongside Karoon River and the numerous bridges over it, as well as the public parks in the city.