Pre-Islamic Relic Under Threat in Iran

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PASARGADAE, Iran (Reuters) - For the people protesting against it, a new dam near these sun-drenched ruins may be more than an environmental upheaval: in it they scent an affront to the country's pre-Islamic identity.

For 2,500 years, the tomb of Cyrus the Great has stood on the plain at Pasargadae in southern Iran, a simple but dignified monument to a king revered as the founder of the mighty Persian empire. But some fear the dam and reservoir pose a threat to the ancient structure.

They say the project may increase humidity in the arid area near the city of Shiraz, which they believe could damage the limestone mausoleum.

That may seem far-fetched -- officials dismiss it -- but the row highlights deep cultural faultlines in attitudes to the Islamic Republic's wealth of pre-Islamic relics.

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