us versus them

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A valley enclosed by mountains, some barren and brown, others snow-capped and aloof. In the center a rectangular stone pyramid with a house-like structure on top that looks like a petrified bouncy castle. There is a little doorway into it, and behind that doorway there used to be golden treasures and a sarcophagus containing the body of the founder of the Persian Empire.

Tomb of Cyrus

Cyrus the Great.

Visitors walk around in little groups, taking selfies and posing for pictures. “People pay more and more attention to this part of history today” a young woman says, “I think they are unsatisfied with the way things are now, and Cyrus seems attractive to them. His empire was peaceful and tolerant.” She has come with her husband and his parents, and I forget to ask her why she chose the word “they” instead of “we”.

front of the Tomb of Cyrus

An old man complains that “they” are building a dam somewhere close by, so that eventually the valley will be underwater. Does that apply to the tomb as well? Well, he says, the only thing protecting the tomb from “them” is the fact that it has long been declared part of the Unesco World Heritage.

The tomb of Darius is located in another valley. Darius was king of the Persian Empire a bit later than Cyrus, but since he was also pretty successful at what he was doing he is also considered great.

Tomb of Darius at Naqsh-e Rustam

Darius the Great.

Another man shows up, claiming that the dam has long been completed, but that since there never was that much water to begin with, the ground water in the valley of the Tomb of Cyrus rose just a bit.

inscription at Naqsh-e Rustam

This way, he adds with a sigh, “they” are still damaging the tomb, though.
Slowly, over time.

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