The famous tomb of four Achaemenid kings, known as the archaeological site Naghsh-e Rostam, is threatened with destruction by cracks that have appeared at the foot of the mountain that holds it.

Iranian geologist Mohammadreza Ghadri told the Miras (Heritage) website: “These cracks are fractures that did not exist before and must be taken seriously.”

Ghadri believes that precipitation entering into these new fractures would lead to further erosion in the stone base and cause the structure to fall.

Nagsh-e Rostam, also referred to as the Necropolis, contains the tombs of Cyrus the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes and Darius II. It is located 12 kilometres north of Persepolis in Fars Province and contains several reliefs dating back to 1000 BC.

Cultural heritage experts have blamed the growing threat on mining activity in the region. They say blasting at the mines has contributed to the rapid growth of the fractures at the historic site and they have called on the government, which has issued permits for the mining, to take preventive measures.