The Problem of a Site Museum for Pasargadae World Heritage Site (Iran)*

By Ali Mozaffari.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper conceptualizes the problem of establishing a site museum in the contested World Heritage Site of Pasargadae in Iran. Pasargadae was constructed in 550 BCE as the capital of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid dynasty, and was revered by the Persians. Today, the archaeological ruins on site represent the ancient origin for Perso-Islamic gardens, the origins of the royal Achaemenid architecture, which exemplify that civilization. On this basis, Pasargadae was in 2004 inscribed as a World Heritage site. This is a contested cultural landscape, positioned between contending ideologies such as nationalism and state Islamism. It is at once a site of pilgrimage, political dissent, and official celebration and violence. Furthermore and beyond national and international tourism, the conditions of this site are complicated locally by the presence of nomadic and sedentary lifestyles in its close proximity. Pasargadae represents a challenge to the notion of heritage and its relationship to the changing politico-cultural landscape of Iran. This paper will conceptualize an approach to establishing a site museum under the rubric of ‘place’ which reveals different, contending aspects of the sites. The proposed approach could provide a methodological framework for heritage sites in comparable conditions.

Keywords: World Heritage, National Identity, Site Museum, Iran, Pasargadae

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.41-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.075MB).

Dr. Ali Mozaffari

Post-Doctoral Research Associate, Lecturer, Australia Asia Pacific Institute (AAPI), Curtin University, Centre for Muslim States and Societies (CMSS), University of Western Australia, Architecture and Interior Architecture, Curtin University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Ali Mozaffari is an Associate at the Australia-Asia-Pacific Institute (AAPI), Curtin University where he also lectures at the Department of Architecture, School of Built Environment. He is also a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Muslim States and Societies (CMSS) of the University of Western Australia (UWA). His current research is across the fields of architecture, anthropology, and heritage focussing specifically on the relationship between collective identities and the construction of places in Iran.


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