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Parthia in the News - 2008

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2008

Parsa Emerges From the Shadow of Persepolis (2 Dec 2008)
Mining banned at salt men's necropolis (9 Nov 2008)
Signs of conflagration discovered at Parthian castle in northern Iran (27 Aug 2008)
Parthian manor unearthed in western Iran (18 Aug 2008)
Bisotun under the spotlight (26 Jul 2008)
Parthian, Sassanid residential areas discovered in northeastern Iran (18 Jul 2008)
Discovery of Six Residential Units in Parthian Fortress of Yazdegerd (8 May 2008)
Possible Existence of a Sasanian Fire Temple in Sarab-e Mort (24 Apr 2008)
Artifact with Hellenistic influence discovered at Sassanid city (21 Apr 2008)
Joint Human, Animal Jar Burial Unearthed Near Strait of Hormuz (28 Feb 2008)
Archaeologists Discovered Largest Parthian Fortress in Iran-Proper (27 Feb 2008)
Parthian fortress still watches over Strait of Hormuz (26 Feb 2008)
Parthian burial practices revealed (26 Feb 2008)
Second Season of Archaeological Excavation in Parthian 'Sarab-Mort' Underway (22 Feb 2008)
Iran's National Museum and the British Museum Team Up on "Sasanian Coins" (21 Feb 2008)
Excavations in Iran unravel mystery of  'Red Snake' (21 Feb 2008)
Iran and Britain team up on "Sassanid Coins" (20 Feb 2008)
ZCHTHD to Make Covering-Protections for Archaeological Sites in Chehrabad Salt Mine (15 Feb 2008)
Scientific Research Testifies the Parthian Origin of Hegmataneh Tappeh (9 Feb 2008)
New Mining License Endangers the Ancient Iranian Salt Mummies (7 Feb 2008)
Romania to Return the Smuggled Iranian Rhyton (5 Feb 2008)
Iraqi Archaeologists Excavate New Sites and Find 'Rare' Parthian Artifacts (25 Jan 2008)
Persian Gulf's Roudan City Under Study (23 Jan 2008)
Manifestation of Sassanid Art : Taq-e Bostan (21 Jan 2008)
Pahlavi Inscriptions Found (21 Jan 08)


Parsa Emerges From the Shadow of Persepolis

London 2 Dec 2008 , (CAIS) -- The ancient town of Parsa has begun to emerge from the shadows of Persepolis. An Iranian-Italian joint archaeological team has brought to light the first remains of the town of Parsa, which was the residential area of commoners just outside the palaces of Persepolis.

The Iranian director of the team, Alireza Askari-Chaverdi of the Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research, stated that the two areas investigated yielded important results.

"The first season of excavations at the site of Persepolis West in search of the ancient town of Parsa has been concluded with important results," Askari-Chaverdi said on November 10.

"The joint Iranian-Italian Archaeological Mission of the Iranian Centre for Archaeological Research, the Parsa-Pasargadae Research Foundation, the University of Bologna, and the Italian Institute for Africa and the East have just completed the first season of activities of their five-year program From Palace to Town.

"This program aims both at contributing a methodological update to documentation and diagnostic analysis for the Achaemenid Terrace of Persepolis, and at the same time at extending archaeological excavations to the nearby town of Parsa, the existence of which is understood in the Elamite and Greek texts and which till now has been investigated only through surface and geophysical surveys. This investigation has particular importance for the knowledge of society, economics, and crafts of the Achaemenid dynastic (550-330 BCE) and post-Achaemenid periods (333-248 BCE), as well as for the study of the historic development of settlement in the area of Persepolis," Askari-Chaverdi explained.

"In the first season, which was concluded on November 7, 2008, six stratigraphic trial trenches were dug in two areas of the site known as Persepolis West, lying to the northwest of the Achaemenid Terrace of Persepolis.

. . . 

"Some of the items probably were taken from the palace in the post-Achaemenid period, after Persepolis was destroyed."

"We have also found occupations of the Islamic period, with fragments of glazed and painted pottery."

Professor Callieri said the team also found some small sheep bones that are very polished, which he believes were used like dice in a game and were called astragala in Greek.

In addition, he said the team discovered some bronze arrowheads from the Achaemenid dynastic period, two iron arrowheads from the post-Achaemenid or Parthian dynastic period (248 BCE-224 CE), a carnelian bead, a copper bracelet fragment and other copper items, mostly from the Achaemenid dynastic era, such as a kind of knob for decoration, some nails, other daily implements, a lead weight in the shape of a bone, and a fragment of a glass vessel, as well as glass bracelets from the Islamic period.

The team also found Achaemenid dynastic era "eye stones" made of agate that Professor Callieri said were used either as the eyes of stone statues or as amulets to ward off the evil eye.

"Some of these items were found in layers of the post-Achaemenid and Islamic periods. The excavation is not more than one kilometre away from Persepolis. So it was not difficult for the local people to go to Persepolis, where they could get access to anything. It reminds me of Rome, my city, during the Middle Ages. They took everything from the ancient monuments and used them in medieval times for building the houses. They took bricks, stones, columns. And it was the same in Persepolis. They had Persepolis one kilometre away, and whenever they needed something, they went there."

"The monumental wall is about half a kilometre away from the palace of Persepolis, and the industrial area is another half a kilometre away, so it is one kilometre away from the palace."

. . .

Professor Callieri also commented on the Frataraka period, which came after the Seleucid period and before the Sasanian era.

"The Fratarakas were the local aristocracy. And Frataraka is a title which means governor. This is a title which was used by the Achaemenids. We have Aramaic papyri from Egypt which mention governors with the title of Frataraka. It is an ancient Persian term. And the first king in Fars who issued coins using the title Frataraka was named Baydad, which means given by God. It is a Persian term. They did not take the title of king but used the title governor. He was issuing coins, so it means he was asserting independence. If you issue a coin you are asserting independence. But still they did not call themselves kings. So why did they select this title? It is my idea that they thought of themselves as a kind of representatives of the former kings of Fars, the Achaemenids, but they called themselves governors as a sign of respect for the Achaemenids, as if they were governors for the Achaemenids."

"There is a connection. The Fratarakas were the intermediate stage of Persian kingship between the Achaemenid and the Sasanian dynasties. I am sure that the Sasanians were very well aware of the fact that the Fratarakas and the Achaemenid dynasty came before them. It was never written anywhere, and many scholars say the Sasanians had no such idea. But I am sure they had such an idea. Also, in their architecture, there are some similarities. In Firuzabad, the Ardeshir Palace uses the same type of lintel decoration as the Tachara of Darius. Why? It is not by chance. And the first king of the Sasanian dynasty, Ardashir, was the last of the Fratarakas. That is the connection. And the Fratarakas ruled from the second century BC to the beginning of the third century CE. Four hundred years they ruled Fars. They had a very important role in the transmission of ideology."

"The Parthian dynastic empire was much decentralized. So probably the Parthian kings had accepted that Fars was independent. But we have no Parthian dynastic period in Fars, because there were the Fratarakas."

"The Parthian dynastic kings were more interested in Mesopotamia. They focused more on this area. The Sasanians were also interested in Mesopotamia. In Mesopotamia, agriculture is fantastic. They had flat land, water, two, three crops a year."

"Probably the Parthians were not very interested in the Iranian Plateau, although they had an important presence in Ecbatana. Late Professor Masud Azarnoush finally understood the important structures brought to light in the excavations of the Hakmataneh (Ecbatana) tappeh belong to the Parthian dynastic period."

When asked about the fact that this site had previously been identified as Median, Professor Callieri said, "Now we are certain that those structures are Parthian."

"We have one important piece of evidence from the Sasanian dynastic period in Persepolis. We have a Sasanian-Pahlavi (Middle Persian) inscription on the stone of the Tachara Palace of a prince of the Sasanian dynasty, the prince of Sistan, who on his way back home, stopped in this area called Sad-Sotun (One Hundred Columns) and made some offerings for the ancestors. It is very clear, the Achaemenids were the ancestors."

"The Fratarakas used Persepolis. We are sure the Greeks and Fratarakas used Persepolis because archaeologists found some reused structures in Persepolis, after the Achaemenid dyanstic era."

"The southwest corner of the Persepolis Terrace has very important traces of post-Achaemenid times. The area next to the palace of Xerxes has evidence of use during that and the Frataraka periods."

. . .

"I think Fars and Persepolis are some of the roots of Iranian culture. It's the importance of this empire. It was the greatest empire of ancient times. Fantastic organization, a multicultural civilisation, so well organised. It is an important Iranian heritage. So I think it is necessary for us to investigate in this field." (read full article)


Mining banned at salt men's necropolis

Tehran, 9 Nov 2008 (Mehr News Agency) -- The Ministry of Industries and Mines has cancelled the mining license at the Chehrabad Salt Mine, where all six of the ancient "salt men" were discovered.

 The decision to cancel the license was announced through a letter sent by the ministry to the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO), the Persian service of CHN reported on Saturday.

 One of the saltmen of Zanjan The ministry has asked the CHTHO to measure the sites. It has also demanded that CHTHO identify the important sites of the mine on a map and inform the ministry about them.

 The Chehrabad Salt Mine is located in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan, in northern Iran. Some of the salt men, otherwise known as Iranian mummies, have been damaged over the past 14 years as a large area of the privately-owned salt mine has been bulldozed.

"The Chehrabad Salt Mine has been one of the most important legal cases that now seems to have been settled by this decision," Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department director Farhang Farrokhi said. "The cancellation of the mining license provides an opportunity to convert the site into an archaeological research center," he added.

Studies on the Fourth Salt Man indicate that the body is 2000 years old and he was 15 or 16 years old at the time of death.

It is still not clear when the other salt men lived, but archaeologists estimate that the First Salt Man lived about 1700 years ago and died sometime between the ages of 35 and 40. He is currently on display in a glass case at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.

 Four of the salt men are kept at the Rakhtshuikhaneh Museum in Zanjan and the Sixth Salt Man was left in-situ due to the dearth of equipment necessary for its preservation.


Signs of conflagration discovered at Parthian castle in northern Iran

Zanjan SaltmanTehran, 27 Aug 2008 (Mehr News Agency) -- Archaeologists have recently found evidence indicating the Parthian castle at the ancient Kaluraz mound site burned down about 2200 years ago. “Signs of a destructive fire were unearthed during the recent excavations on the castle’s earliest strata that date back to the Parthian era,” the archaeological team director Mohammadreza Khalatbari told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday. The castle had likely been abandoned temporarily, he added.

The archaeologists have also dug out brands, which are surmised to be remains of the poles used in construction of the castle.
A human skeleton was also found in the burnt stratum. It is believed that the death resulted from the fire. The skeleton has seriously disintegrated over time.
 
Kaluraz is one of the many ancient sites of the Rostamabad region located in northern Iran’s Gilan Province.

Ruins of the castle as well as many other Parthian architectural structures were unearthed by Khalatbari’s team in November 2005. They previously unearthed 3000-year-old gray shards in the lower strata of the site, which date back to the first millennium BC. The archaeologists believe these items indicate that Kaluraz was a residential area during the Iron Age.

A team of Japanese experts collaborated with Khalatbari’s team on the site in 2005. The Japanese team had previously prepared Gilan’s archaeological site maps, spotting 90 archaeological sites that had been discovered in Gilan over the years.

The joint team had made the first discovery of a Neolithic Age site in Gilan near the Sefidrud River in September 2004. [read full article]


Parthian manor unearthed in western Iran

Tehran, 18 Aug 2008 (Mehr News Agency) -- A team of archaeologists working at the Sarab-e Mort site has recently discovered the ruins of a manor house dating back to the Parthian era.

Located near the city of Gilan-e Gharb in Iran’s western province of Kermanshah, the site is being threatened by a dam construction project.

The manor consists of sections for official ceremonies, administration, and private residence, team director Yusef Moradi told the Persian service of CHN on Monday.

Moradi described the discovery as important due to the special use of the manor and the three sections of the house and added, “No other example of this type of house has been found at the site so far.”

The house constructed of cobblestones, gypsum, and bricks measures 70x50 meters. A number of shards have also been dug up at the house.

The experts also surmise that the house was used during the Sassanid era.

The team was assigned by the Iranian Center for Archaeological Research (ICAR also known as the Center for Archaeological Research of Iran, CARI) to conduct salvage excavations at Sarab-e Mort, which will partially be submerged by the dam.

According to Moradi, the team has completed this season of excavations and ICAR has not applied for further operations.

The area of Sarab-e Mort is best known for its mort (myrtle) trees. Myrtle was considered as a sacred plant by the ancient Iranians, and its leaves and fruits were used during Mithra and Anahita cultic ceremonies. [read full article]


Bisotun under the spotlight

Tehran, 26 July 2008 (Mehr News Agency) -- Bisotun Cultural Heritage Center and Iran University of Science and Technology have recently teamed up to organize related affairs in the Bisotun site.

“The site lacks an appropriate entrance, a proper address, and many other necessary services for tourists and visitors and this situation confuses them,” Bisotun Cultural Heritage Center director Davud Daneshian told the Persian service of CHN on Friday.

“We intend to prepare a two-year plan to upgrade conditions to that which would be appropriate for a world heritage site,” he added.

Designing a lighting system for the site’s paths, installing signs, restoration of the sites damaged over the years, establishing a site-specific museum, and converting a Safavid-era caravanserai into a motel will be main objectives of the plan.

“An old building covering 150 square meters in area is located at Bisotun, which is currently being restored in order to be converted into a site-specific museum,” Daneshian said.

“The museum will display all artifacts discovered or excavated in the forthcoming archeological investigations at the site,” he added.

Bisotun is located in western Iran some 30 kilometers east of the provincial capital of Kermanshah at the foot of the Zagros Mountains.

The site, registered on UNESCO’s World Heritage List July 13, 2006, includes sub-sites of a Median temple, a Seleucid statue of Heracles, bas-reliefs of Parthian kings Mithridates II, Gotarzes II, and one of the Vologeses, Phraates flat cliff, and a Sassanid monument. However the site is best known for bas-reliefs and inscriptions of Darius the Great. [read full article]


Parthian, Sassanid residential areas discovered in northeastern Iran

Tehran, 18 July 2008 (Mehr News Agency) -- An archaeological team has recently discovered residential areas dating back to Parthian and Sassanid eras in the Kesht Tepe site in the Semnan Plain, Semnan Province.

The team led by Mahnaz Sharifi has spent 40 days working the site, which is threatened by a road construction project to connect the Cheshmeh-Ail region to Mazandaran Province.

“The team dug 10 trenches at the site and their operations resulted in discovery of Parthian and Sassanid residential areas,” Sharifi told the Persian Service of CHN on Friday.

They have unearthed several large pots, ovens, clay spindles, and several other artifacts during their excavations, she added.

“A seal bearing an image of a scorpion also was dug out, which is one of the team’s most important discoveries,” Sharifi explained.

In addition, a cemetery dating back to the early Islamic era has been discovered on the Sassanid stratum of the site. The cemetery contains some unique burial styles.

“No gifts have been put on the graves and the bodies have not been buried facing the qibla; some of them have even been found lying prostrate in the graves,” Sharifi said.

“We have also unearthed a coffin containing a skeleton, while Muslims never buried the dead with coffin,” she added.

The archaeologists surmise that they may have found a cemetery reflecting the transitional stage from the Sassanid era to Islamic period.

The rescue excavations have been halted for lack of necessary findings and the site has been left in the care of only one guard. [read full article]


Discovery of Six Residential Units in Parthian Fortress of Yazdegerd

London, 8 May 2008 (CAIS)

Parthian fortress at YazdegerdYazdegerd Fortress (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- The first season of archaeological research at Parthian Qal'eh-ye Yazdegerd (Yazdegerd Fortress) has ended with unearthing six residential units dated to the late Arsacid (Parthian) dynastic era, reported Persian service of CHN on Monday.

Archaeologists after four decades of absence in the fortress of Yazdegerd began their first season of archaeological research in November 2007, with the aim of gaining a better understanding of late-Parthian dynastic period of Iranian history.

"After few decades of absence we have began our first season of archaeological research in Yazdegerd Fortress, with the aim of better understanding of the [Arsacid] government", said veteran Iranian archaeologist, Dr Masud Azarnoush director of Archaeological research team at Yazdegerd Fortress.

Azarnoush expressed that not enough research has been carried out in this part of the country which has left gaps in our understanding of Iran's history during the Arsacid dynastic reign.

He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the poor standard of research, and inadequate knowledge of Iranian archaeologists and researchers about one of the greatest Iranian imperial dynasty.

"Despite the extensive researches that have carried out by international researchers in Iraq and Syria about Iran's Parthian dynasty, our archaeologists and researchers' knowledge is inadequate", said Azarnoush.

The Yazdegerd Fortress is one of the greatest ancient defence structures in Iran-proper situated in the north of Sar Pol Zohāb, 18 kilometres from Reejāb–Sar Pol Zohāb junction in Kermanshah Province.

Yazdegerd FortressTwo intertwined dragons from Qal'eh-i Yazdigird (after Keall 1977: pl. III, b)
(Click to enlarge)

There is a possible connection between Yazdegerd Fortress and Haftan Bokht 'the lord of worm', one of the villains of the Karnamak-i Ardashir-i Papakan (the deeds of Ardeshir Papakan). 

Haftan Bokht and his connection with the "worm" may be seen from the intertwined dragon motifs in the fortress's capitals. Haftan Bokht was a Parthian vassal king who opposed Ardeshir's sovereignty and fought him to death. Haftan Bokht insignia was dragon, hence Sasanian-Pahlavi kirm (Worm) is a condescending term used by Sasanian instead of aždahāk (dragon).

Also archaeological research have confirmed that the fortress itself was abandoned in the late Arsacid dynasty, however, the Sasanian constructions including the fire temple at the foothills of the fortress, currently situated in Bān-Gombad village, could be seen as confirmation that the fortress had belonged to Haftan Bokht ,as Ardeshir ordered its destruction: 

"Ardashir commanded that the fortress should be razed to the ground and demolished, while on its site he ordered the city which they call Guzaran to be erected. In that quarter he caused the Atash-i-Vahram to be enthroned" (Karnamak-i Ardashir-i Papakan, Chapter VIII).

The 40 hectare Yazdegerd archaeological site is complex and consist of a palace, fire temple, prayer hall (chapel), residential sector, garrison and defence structures. These were mainly constructed during the Arsacid dynastic era (248 BCE – 224 CE) and expanded and used during the Sasanian dynastic (224-651 CE), and post-Sasanian periods.

The walls and columns of the complex once were covered with stucco moulds and had carved in coloured patterns of repetitive figural compositions that mimicked wall-hangings. Surfaces were divided into flat panels and bands of repeat designs suggestive of textile ornament, and the relief designs were painted in bright, even gaudy colours and executed in varying scales.

Unfortunately, most of the stucco decorations and statues were destroyed by locals, as they were utilised as building materials. 

The use of plaster rendering on walls and columns in Iran developed during the Arsacid dynastic era. Parthian art which was the continuation of Achaemenid dynastic art and was used as a template for the art of the succeeding dynasty. Parthian stucco decoration and motifs also anticipate Islamic art by several centuries. [read full article]


Possible Existence of a Sasanian Fire Temple in Sarab-e Mort

London, 24 April 2008 (CAIS)

Sarab-e Mort site (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Archaeologists working at Sarab-e Mort site in Kermanshah Province announced the news of the possible discovery of a Sasanian Fire Temple adjacent to the Parthian Manor house, reported Persian service of ISNA on Monday 21, 2008.

“During this year's [archaeological salvage] excavation, we have unearthed the religious section of the structure; it consists of a Chahar-Taqi (free-standing Zoroastrian Fire Temple), which in fact was a private chapel,” said Yousef Moradi, director of archaeological salvage operation team at Sarab-e Mort.

The Parthian manor house consists of various sections including official, administrative, ceremonial and religious. 

Moradi stated: “we started our excavation in the Parthian manor house last year. Last season we discovered the official, administrative and ceremonial quarters, and this year the religious section. However, the residential quarter has totally been destroyed and there is no hope of finding the private chamber belonging to the lord of the manor.”

Initially, the private and residential sectors of the manor-house were destroyed partly in 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war and the remaining part was demolished in recent decade as the result of the dam construction activities.

In regard to the Zoroastrian fire temple he said: “located in the southern corner of the structure there is a small area, which points out to its function and origin as a Sasanian fire temple. However, we cannot be sure until we complete our excavation.”

According to Moradi, the manor house was built during the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE -224 CE) and was in use during the succeeding dynasty, the Sasanians (224-651 CE). Apparently the  discovered religious section was an annexation. Further excavations however at a lower level will shed more light about its origin.

Iranian archaeologists began their second and last season of archaeological salvage operation at Sarab-e Mort archaeological site in Kermanshah Province in February 2008, prior to the site soon being submerged once the newly built Dam becomes operational.  Discovery of plaster in the ceremonial hall indicates that the walls of this building were most probably covered with stucco-decorations which have been destroyed over time. This manor house covered an area about 5,000 square meters.  Sarab-e Mort is situated near a stream known under the same name and it is located 3 kilometres east of Gilangharb in Kermanshah province. The site consists of three archaeological mounds (Tappeh). 

The area of Sarab Mort is renowned for its mort (myrtle) trees. Myrtle was considered as a sacred plant by the ancient Iranians, and its leaves and fruits were used during Mithra and Anahita cultic ceremonies. (read full article)


Artifact with Hellenistic influence discovered at Sassanid city

Tehran, 21 April 2008  (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists working at the ruins of a Sassanid city in southern Iran's Fars Province has recently discovered an artifact bearing some traces of the Hellenistic artistic style.

The artifact bears images of two faces looking in the opposite direction engraved on a flat piece of ivory, the Persian service of CHN reported on Monday.

It is only the second time such an artifact has been found at an ancient site in Iran.

“The influence of Hellenistic art is clearly observed in the appearance of the eyes of the faces,” team director Alireza Jafari-Zand said.

The artifact is estimated to date back to a period between 200 BC and 200 CE when local states, which were concurrent with the Parthian Empire, appeared to rule the region after the Seleucids, he explained.

A similar artifact had been identified by a foreign archaeologist at an ancient site in the Izeh region of Khuzestan Province about 70 years ago.

According to Jafari-Zand, the foreign archaeologist never explained how he had acquired the artifact. However, he believes the local people had given it to him.

The Sassanid city, which was identified in May 2007, will be entirely submerged if the Fars Regional Water Company completes the process of filling the Salman-e Farsi Dam.

The 360-hectare city contains ruins of structures from the post-Achaemenid period and the Sassanid and early Islamic eras.

The company had begun filling the reservoir of the dam in mid-March 2007. However, the process was halted after the Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (CHTHO) lodged an official complaint.

Afterwards, the archaeological team was organized and dispatched to the region to conduct rescue excavations. (read full story)

 

Joint Human, Animal Jar Burial Unearthed Near Strait of Hormuz

London, 28 Feb 2008 (Mehr News Agency)

A team of archaeologists working near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf area have dug up an ancient earthenware pot containing the skeletons of a man and an animal. The pot and its contents are estimated to date back approximately 2200 years ago.

Studies are being carried out on the animal's skeleton to determine its type, team director Siamak Sarlak told the Persian service of CHN on Tuesday.

In addition, the fact that an animal and a human have been buried together poses another mystery for the team, he added.

The team has also discovered a large fortress dating back to the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE) during their latest excavations.

A part of the Parthian fortress has been destroyed by nearby construction projects underway in the area.

The excavations have been carried out to salvage possible ancient sites before building developments totally engulf the region.  (read full story)


Archaeologists Discovered Largest Parthian Fortress in Iran-Proper

London, 27 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

During the first season of archaeological research in Nakhl-e Ebrahim village, in the Persian Gulf's Hormozgan Province, Iranian archaeologists have discovered a fortress dating back to the third Iranian dynasty, the Parthians (248BCE-224CE).

Nakhl-e Ebrahim Castle"Twenty days into the first season of archaeological research in the area, we have managed to discover the fortress and complete 70% of our scheduled programme", said Abbas Noruzi, the vice president of Hormozgan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (HCHTO).

Archaeological geophysics survey confirms the fortress's covering an area of 15,000 square-meters, which makes the biggest Parthian fortress ever to have been discovered in Iran-Proper. The fortress and its surrounding structure could cover an area in excess of 30,000m2.

The fortress is now located 1500 meters north of the Strait of Hormuz, but had originally been constructed on the shore of the strait due to the water level prevailing at that time.

Nakhl-e Ebrahim MapThe fortress has been constructed on a regular plan and comprises many square-shaped rooms positioned in a symmetrical pattern. Archaeologists have also discovered decorative bricks and dual and tri coloured potteries.

Noruzi also asserted that archaeologists have found a large number of Parthian 'jar burials' in the cemetery section."

In this regard Siyamak Sarlak director of the archaeological team in the Strait of Hurmoz said: "the jars contained burial gifts, including pottery vessels, jewelleries, such as necklaces made of nacre, agate and steatite beads."

The position of the fortress reconfirms the strategic importance of the strait even during the Parthian dynastic era, Sarlak noted.

Unfortunately, some parts of this unique structure has been destroyed by nearby fishery construction projects.

With the discovery of such a large fortress and settlement, history can possibly name Nakhl-e Ebrahinm village (also known as Nakhl-e Ebrahimi) as an important Parthian port in the Persian Gulf. The original Parthian name of the coastal village is unknown.

The Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz, is the entrance to the Persian Gulf from the Indian Ocean, which has been a strategic focus in world affairs for thousands of years. The strait touches Iran to the north and Oman to the south.

During the Sasanian era (224-651 CE) Yemen and Oman were part of Iran's Mazun Province, governed by Persian nobles, and part from inland Oman, which was already been occupied by Semitic people, most of the southern coasts of Persian Gulf were occupied by Iranians, particular the Zoroastrian converts to Christianity.

There are not many references to the area in the 6th and 7th centuries but there is one Gabriel who is mentioned as being the Persian (Nestorian) Bishop of Hormuz c. 540 CE which at that time would have been on the mainland-Iran.

The south side of the Strait however, had to contend with considerable changes after the fall of Sasanian dynasty of Iran in the middle of 7th century CE. Although, Iranians have lost Oman to Arab army, the coasts continue to be occupied by the Persians and remained under the local Iranian rulers of Hormuz.

This was a pattern that continued till about the 18th century when it was reversed and Arabs obtained coastal towns on the south side of the Strait and the Makran coast from Iranians. Nonetheless, to this day, at the north end of Omani side of the Strait is the village of Kumzar, occupied by an Iranian speaking stock.

According to some historical accounts, the name of the Strait of Hormuz derived from local Persian word hurmogh meaning date-palm. However, according to some some scholars as well as popular beliefs, hormuz is a derivative and shortened from of Ahura Mazda, the God of Zoroastrian religion. In the local Persian dialect spoken in Hurmoz and Minab, the strait is still called Hurmogh.

[Original News bulletin published in Persian by CHTN & CHN, and extracted and translated by CAIS]


Parthian fortress still watches over Strait of Hormuz

Tehran, 26 Feb 2008 (Tehran Times Culture Desk)

A team of archaeologists has recently discovered a large fortress dating back to the Parthian era (250 BC-226 CE) near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf area.

Covering an area of 15,000 square meters, the structure is the biggest Parthian fortress ever to have been discovered team director Siamak Sarlak told the Persian service of CHN on Monday.

“The fortress is now located 1500 meters north of the Strait of Hormuz. However it had originally been constructed on the shore of the strait due to the water level prevailing at that time,” he added.

The position of the fortress reconfirms the strategic importance of the strait even during the Parthian era, Sarlak noted.

The fortress has been constructed on a regular plan and comprises many square-shaped rooms positioned in a symmetrical pattern. (read full story)


Parthian burial practices revealed

Tehran, 26 Feb 2008 (Press TV)

Parthian jar burial Archeologists have discovered the mystery of burial rituals performed during the Parthian dynasty in the greatest fortress of the time. Archeologists have reportedly accomplished 70 percent of the excavations in Nakhl-e Ebrahim Cemetery located in Iran's southern province of Hormozgan.

“The preliminary phase of archeological excavations in Nakhl-e Ebrahim Cemetery unraveled the mystery of Parthian burial methods,'' said Abbas Norouzi, the cultural heritage deputy of Hormozgan Province.

Archeological finds have revealed that the Parthians performed jar burials and that the site was one of the biggest ports of its time. The current phase of the archeological excavations in the area is expected to continue for another month. (read full story)


Second Season of Archaeological Excavation in Parthian 'Sarab-Mort' Underway

London, 22 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

Once again the Islamic regime's threat of dam construction to pre-Islamic Iranian cultural heritage has raised its ugly head to dominate the last month of the Iranian excavation calendar.

Iranian archaeologists have begun their second and last season of archaeological salvage operation at Sarab-Mort archaeological site, in Kermanshah Province, as the site will be submerged once the newly built Kaleh Shak Dam becomes operational in the first half of the next Iranian calendar year (March 20).

During the first season, the ceremonial hall of the manor house, belonging to the Parthian dynastic era (248 BCE - 224 CE) was excavated, by cultural heritage experts from the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (KCHTO), said Yusef Moradi, director of archaeological research team at Sarab-Mort.

"Sarab-Mort are situated within the vicinity of the stream known under the same name. In the previous season we focused our research on the northern mound, in which we managed to discover a manor house dating back to the Parthian dynastic era. The manor house consisted of a private and an administrative section. During the last season, in the administrative section, we have unearthed an Ayvan, a ceremonial hall, courtyards and hallways which were leading to number of offices," said Moradi.

He then concluded, "in this season of salvage operation, we will conclude our excavation by unearthing the private section of the edifice, which will last three months."

Sarab-Mort archaeological site, which is consist of thee archaeological mounds (Tappeh), is located 3 kilometres east of Gilangharb in Kermanshah province. The area is renowned for its mort (myrtle) trees. Myrtle was considered as a sacred tree by the ancient Iranians, and it's leaves and fruits were used during Mithra and Anahita cultic ceremonies.

Islamic Iran and the Plague of Dam Construction

The Islamic regime's massive scale of dam constructions is tearing up Iranian heritage sites throughout Iran, which forces Iranian archaeologists to carry out 'salvage excavations'. Most of these salvage works are conducted hastily without proper planning, or are left incomplete as the result of pressure from the regime.

The language of various excavation reports, documents and news coming out of Iran makes it obvious that Iranian archaeological teams are uncovering completely new sets of material culture and data about Iran's past on a daily basis -- and although archaeologists have a chance of finding these basic but very important pieces of information, their incomplete research makes the scale of destruction more disastrous.

Accountability, transparency and cultural heritage management are key to safeguarding any nations' historical past. There is every reason to expect pre-conceived programmes to successfully sample appropriate key endangered sites well in advance of destruction. Such systems are very successfully implemented in Western European countries, to strike a realistic balance between development and protecting cultural heritage -- but regrettably, it is not evident amidst the ruins of this 'dammed nation', hindered by the theoretic regime in Tehran. (read full story)


Iran's National Museum and the British Museum Team Up on "Sasanian Coins"

London, 21 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

The first volume of the catalogue titled "Sasanian Coins" will be published in the near future in a collaborative effort by Iran's National Museum and the British Museum.

Iran's National Museum's Curator of Coins Marzieh Elaheh Asgari and Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis, the Curator of Islamic and Iranian Coins, in the department of Coins and Medals at the British Museum, have studied more than 5000 coins in the collections in Tehran and London.

The results of Sasanian Coin Project will be published in three volumes according to a Memorandum of Understanding which was signed between the museums 10 years ago.

Sasanian coins present the political, social and cultural conditions of the dynasty, and these volumes will be a valuable resource for the academic community and cultural enthusiasts. Each coin will be illustrated and described in the catalogue and the information will also go online. The following volumes are due to be published next summer.

Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis is responsible for the British Museum's collection of pre-Islamic Iranian coins (from the third century BCE until the middle of the seventh century CE), which includes both Parthian and Sasanian dynastic coins. She also looks after coins of the Islamic era beginning with the Samanid and Buyid, Seljuk, Ilkhanid and Timurid, Safavid and Qajar dynasties of Iran.

Dr Curtis apart from the Sasanian Coin Project, she is also involved in a major Parthian Coin Project, which is a multi-institutional project with will catalogue coins of the third century BCE to the third century CE in Vienna, Tehran, Paris and Berlin.

The fourth Iranian dynasty, the Sasanians came to power in 224 CE, when Ardashir, a local king from Pars in southern Iran, seized the crown and became the new King of Kings of Iran. The Sasanians remained the most powerful empire in the ancient Near East until the advent of Islam and the Arab invasion of Iran in 651 CE.

Sasanian coins:
Sasanian coins are an important primary source for the history, economics and religion of this dynasty. From the beginning, the image of the king with his elaborate crown appears on the front and a Zoroastrian fire altar is shown on the back. The crowns incorporate symbols, such as wings, which are associated with the Zoroastrian religion and idea of kingship. The coin inscriptions, which are in Middle Persian (Sasanid-Pahlavi), give the king's name, his religious affiliation as a worshipper of Ahura Mazda, the Zoroastrian Wise Lord.

From the sixth century onwards, important information on the mint and date within the king's reign appears on the back. More than fifty mint centres are known through abbreviations in Middle Persian but not all can be identified with certainty. Sasanian were minted in gold, silver, bronze and occasionally lead. There were two women sovereigns in the Sasanian period. These were Boran (Purandokht) (r. 630-31) and Azarmidukht (r. 631). Both were daughters of emperor Khosrow II Parviz (r. 591-628).  (read full story)


Excavations in Iran unravel mystery of  'Red Snake

London, 21 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

"New discoveries unearthed at an ancient frontier wall in Iran provide compelling evidence that the Iranians matched the Romans for military might and engineering prowess."

The 'Great Wall of Gorgan' in north-eastern Iran, a barrier of awesome scale and sophistication, including over 30 military forts, an aqueduct, and water channels along its route, is being explored by an international team of archaeologists from Iran and the Universities of Edinburgh and Durham.

This vast Wall-also known as the 'Red Snake'- its foundation is old as the Great Wall of China, and longer than Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall put together.

Until recently, nobody knew which Iranian dynasty had built the Wall. Theories ranged from Cyrus the Great, in the 6th century BCE, to the Parthian emperors, or Sasanian dynasty's King of Kings Khosrow I in the 6th century CE. Most scholars favoured a 2nd or 1st century BCE construction, during the Parthian dynasty (248 BCE-224CE), but the scientific dating has now shown that the Wall was built in the 5th, or possibly, 6th century CE, by the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE). This Sasanians has created one of the most powerful empires in the ancient world, centered on Iran, and stretching from modern Iraq to southern Russia, Central Asia to Pakistan and Yemen.

Modern survey techniques and satellite images have revealed that the forts were densely occupied with military style barrack blocks. Numerous finds discovered during the latest excavations indicate that the frontier bustled with life. Researchers estimate that some 30,000 soldiers could have been stationed at this Wall alone. It is thought that the 'Red Snake'was a defence system against the White Huns, who lived in Central Asia.

Eberhard Sauer, of the University of Edinburgh's School of History, Classics and Archaeology, said: "Our project challenges the traditional Euro-centric world view. At the time, when the Western Roman Empire was collapsing and even the Eastern Roman Empire was under great external pressure, the Sasanian Persian Empire mustered the manpower to build and garrison a monument of greater scale than anything comparable in the west. The Persians seem to match, or more than match, their late Roman rivals in army strength, organisational skills, engineering and water management."

The research is published in the new edition of Current World Archaeology and the periodical Iran, Journal of the British Institute of Persian Studies 45. (read full story)


Iran and Britain team up on "Sassanid Coins"

Tehran, 20 Feb 2008 (Mehr News Agency)

The first volume of the book entitled "Sassanid Coins" will be published in the near future in a collaborative effort by Iran's National Museum and the British Museum.

Iran's National Museum's Curator of Coins Marzieh Elaheh Asgari and the Curator of Islamic and Iranian Coins at the British Museum Vesta Sarkhosh Curtis studied more than 5000 coins which are on display at the two museums.

The two-volume work on Sassanid coins will be published according to a Memorandum of Understanding which was concluded between the museums 10 years ago.

Since the designs on the coins feature the political, social and cultural conditions prevailing in the Sassanid era, their details have been analyzed precisely in these volumes which form a good work of reference for scholars.

The second volume of the work is due to be published next summer. (read full story)


ZCHTHD to Make Covering-Protections for Archaeological Sites in Chehrabad Salt Mine

London, 15 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

The Zanjan Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Department (ZCHTHD) plans to make appropriate coverings for the archaeological sites in the Chehrabad Salt Mine to safeguard them against rainfall.

The salt mine is located in the Hamzehlu region near Zanjan, which is the capital of the northern Iranian province of the same name.

The company that possesses the right to exploit the salt from the salt mine where all six of the "salt men" were discovered has prevented the ZCHTHD from constructing any covering for the sites up to now.

The previous contract signed by the Zanjan Industries and Mines Organization and the company expired on February 07.

However, the company is currently continuing its mining activities, which may cause serious damage to the archaeological trenches dug by a team led by Abolfazl Aali.

The activities also threaten the Sixth Salt Man, which was discovered by chance when the remains were partially uncovered by a rivulet created by an early June rainfall. It has been left in-situ due to the dearth of equipment necessary for its preservation.

"ZCHTHD planned to construct the coverings about three months ago, but the project was postponed due to the company's objections," Aali told the Persian service of CHN on Friday.

The proposal to make coverings for the sites was brought up again after the expiration of the contract, he added.

"The approaching spring rainfall is the main problem threatening the sites. The water makes its way into the trenches and destroys the archaeological strata," Aali explained.

Experts believe that the Sixth Salt Man lived about 1800 years ago.

The First Salt Man is on display at the National Museum of Iran in Tehran and the other four are being kept at the Rakhtshuikhaneh Museum in Zanjan. (read full story)


Scientific Research Testifies the Parthian Origin of Hegmataneh Tappeh

London, 9 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

Thermo-luminescence and C14 testing carried out on Hegmataneh Tappeh (Ecbatana mound) remains, confirms the date of the construction to the third Iranian dynasty, the Parthians (248 BCE-224 CE), the Persian service of ISNA reported on Saturday.

Hegmataneh Museum Pots Hegmataneh Tappeh Remains 1 Hegmataneh Tappeh Remains 2 Hegmataneh Tappeh 1
Hegmataneh Tappeh 2 Hegmataneh Tappeh 3 Hegmataneh Tappeh 4
Click images to enlarge

"Previously Iran's Archaeological Research Centre conducted extensive research at the Hegmataneh Tappeh, which is considered to be an invaluable historical site in Iran, which led to the discovery of a number of architectural remains from this archaeological mound", said Dr Masoud Azarnoush, veteran Iranian archaeologist and director of archaeological research team at Hegmataneh Tappeh.

He added, "despite all these discoveries, there has always been a question unanswered regarding the actual date of the site; - to determine the age of the mound we therefore have proposed a three year stratigraphical research programme plan to Iran's Archaeology Research Centre, and despite all the limitations the result was quite staggering.

Azarnoush continued: "although, the architectural and construction methods as well as the stratigraphical and potsherd studies have confirmed the site was Parthian, we had to back them up, using scientific dating methods."

"We therefore, carried out two dating methods - one, thermo-luminescence tests on the building materials as well as potsherds, and the second a C14 testing on organic materials retrieved from the site. The thermoluminiscence tests have confirmed my Parthian theory of the site." said Azarnoush.

According to Azanoudh, following thermo-luminescence tests, the organic samples were sent to Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU). The results were also supported the Parthian origin of the site. C14 testing were carried out on charcoal and bone fragments retrieved from 30 cm above the virgin soil level, which dated to 2nd to 1st century BCE, i.e. beginning to the middle of the Parthian dynastic period. The samples from 60cm above the virgin soil, however date the remains to Sasanian dynasty, and therefore confirms that the construction began during the latter part of Parthian dynasty."

The historic Hegmataneh or Ecbatana is located within the boundaries of the modern city of Hamedan and covers an area of 30 hectares. Hegmataneh in historic texts, was the capital of the first Iranian dynastic empire, the Medes (728-550 BCE). It later became one of the main seats of their successors, the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE), though Persepolis near Shiraz was considered the centre of the throne, Ecbatana was considered a strategic place, which kept its' importance even during the Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE) and Sasanian (224–651 CE) dynastic empires. (read full story)


New Mining License Endangers the Ancient Iranian Salt Mummies

London, 7 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

A renewed permit issued by the Islamic Republic's mining industry to the private company have sparked new rows between the regime's and Iranian's cultural authorities over the ancient Chehr-Abad salt mines.

The regime's ministry has claimed that they are obliged to renew the permit, since all the conditions stipulated in the previous contracts have been met by the company. The new permit will allow the mining company to continue its operations for another ten years, beginning this week.

Saltman 1 Saltman 2 Saltman 3 Saltman 4
Click images to enlarge

If the archaeological groups lose their fights in revoking the new license, mining will begin and will endangers one of the most invaluable archaeological sites in Iran -- and it is very likely these precious artefacts, dating back from the Achaemenid to Sasanian dynastic eras, will be severely damaged or ultimately destroyed.

These salt men are among rare mummies discovered around the world that are mummified as a result of natural conditions. Since the salt men have been buried in salt for centuries, most of their tissues are well preserved. Special conditions of the salt mine which prevented the activities of micro-organisms caused the excellent preservation of organic and inorganic materials in the mine.

The news of discovery of four salt men in Zanjān's Chehr-Ābād salt mine was widely broadcasted around the world and attracted the attention of archaeologists and cultural heritage experts. The first salt man was accidentally discovered by the miners in 1993.

More than a decade later in November 2004, the body of the second salt man was discovered in the same salt mine. The year 2005 was the year of salt men discoveries and bodies of the third, fourth, and fifth salt mummies were unearthed in January, March, and December 2005.

Tests carried out by Oxford University Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit (ORAU) on the remains and clothing of first and second salt men, C14 assigned date to the late Parthian dynasty (±1745 BP). The remains of other three salt men known by numbers 3, 4 and 5, which were also victims of collapsed tunnels C14 testing have placed them in ±245 BP. (read full story)


Romania to Return the Smuggled Iranian Rhyton

London, 5 Feb 2008 (CAIS)

The Romanian cultural officials has finally decided to return a priceless pre-Islamic rhyton to Iran. The decision was announced following negotiations between Iran's Cultural Heritage, Tourism, and Handicrafts Organization (ICHHTO), and a Romanian delegation.

The wild rhyton in shape of ibex possibly was discovered in northern and northwestern Iran had been smuggled into Romania. According to UNESCO's "Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property", the States Parties should take appropriate steps to recover and return any such cultural property to the State Party of origin. (read full story)


Iraqi Archaeologists Excavate New Sites and Find 'Rare' Parthian Artifacts

London, 25 Jan 2008 (CAIS)

Iraqi archaeologists have resumed excavations in southern Iraq uncovering three important ancient sites and collecting magnificent items.

The museum's information officer, Abdulzahara al-Talaqani, said said Iraqi diggers have come across "a very important" Parthian site which has so far yielded "200 rare pieces".

The head of the excavation team of the Parthian site, Mohammed Abbas, said: "Most of the finds are unique. We have a silver statue of a woman, another silver piece representing a cobra, household utensils, legendary animals, incised pots and various other magnificent items."

A post-Sasanian site has also yielded 119 pieces. Saleh Yousef who led the excavation there said the artifacts represented inscribed pots, glassware and beautiful beakers.

The territories that today is known as Iraq had became part of Persian Achaemenid Empire during the reign of Cyrus the Great, after conquering Babylon in 539 BCE. The territory almost uninterruptedly remained Iranian until 7th century CE, apart from temporarily Seleucid occupation which later was liberated by Parthian dynasty of Iran. Iraq finally was occupied by Muslim-Arab invaders in 7th century, and as the result of mass migration from Arabian peninsula to the region, it has been predominantly occupied by Arabs - the only Iranian stock that still live in the region are Kurds which have occupied the northern territories.

The city of Ctesiphon, located on the east bank of the Tigris and approximately 35 km south of modern Baghdad, was served as the Imperial capital of two major Iranian dynasties, the Parthians (248 BCE – 224 CE) and Sasanians (224-651 CE). During the reign the Sasanian King of Kings Khosrow I (anūšak.rūwān, the immortal soul - r. 531-579 CE) the former Persian land was part of Khvārvarān, which was divided into four quarters and subdivided to provinces of Mishān, Asuristān, Ādiābene and Lower Media.

The modern term Iraq is an Arabic form derivative form of Persian Ērāk (lower Iran), and is widely used in the medieval Arabic sources for the area in the centre and south of the modern republic as a geographic rather than a political term, implying no precise boundaries. (read full story)


Persian Gulf's Roudan City Under Study

London, 23 Jan 2008 (CAIS)

Stratigraphical studies in Roudan city, located 35 kilometres from Strait of Hormoz in Persian Gulf, have resulted in the discovery of architectural layers ranging from the third millennium BCE up to the Parthian (248 BCE-224 CE) and Sasanian (224-651 CE) dynastic eras.

According to the Persian service of CHN, director of the archaeology team in Temmaroun, Siamak Sarlak said that the studies, which were the first to be conducted in the area for the past 15 years, reveal that the geological specimens are at least 5,000 years old.

Discovery of 13 layers from the Parthian and Sasanian dynasties was unparalleled compared to the earlier rounds of excavation at the site. (read full story)


Manifestation of Sassanid Art : Taq-e Bostan

Tehran, 23 Jan 2008 (Iran Daily)

Taq-e Bostan is a series of large rock relief from the era of Sassanid Empire of Persia, the Iranian dynasty which ruled western Asia from 226 to 650 AD.

This example of Sassanid art is located 5 km from the city center of Kermanshah in western Iran.

It is located in the heart of the Zagros mountains, where it has endured almost 1,700 years of wind and rain. The carvings, some of the finest and best-preserved examples of Persian sculpture under the Sassanid, include representations of the investitures of Ardashir II (379Ð383) and Shapur III (383Ð388), Wikipedia reported.

Like other Sassanid symbols, Taq-e Bostan and its relief patterns accentuate power, religious tendencies, glory, honor, the vastness of the court, game and fighting spirit, festivity, joy, and rejoicing. Sassanid kings chose a beautiful setting for their rock reliefs along an historic Silk Road caravan route waypoint and campground. The reliefs are adjacent a sacred spring that empties into a large reflecting pool at the base of a mountain cliff. Taq-e Bostan and its rock relief are one of the 30 surviving Sassanid relics of the Zagros mountains. According to Arthur Pope, the founder of Iranian art and archeology Institute in the USA, "art was characteristic of the Iranian people and the gift which they endowed the world with."

Taq-e Bostan and its rock reliefs comprise two big and small arches. They illustrate the crowning ceremonies of Ardashir I and his son, Shapur I, Shapur II and Khosrow II. They also depict the hunting scenes of Khosrow II. The first Taq-e Bostan relief, and apparently the oldest, is a rock relief of the crowning ceremony of Ardashir I and his son Shapur I. It includes the figures of four people with swords, helmets, and lotus, the latter being the flower cultivated extensively by Iranians. Researchers have long debated the identities of the figures in this relief, although most are agreed on the identity of the fallen figure. He is Artabanus IV, the last Parthian king whose rule terminated in 226 AD.

This rock relief does not depict a scene of the coronation ceremony of two Sassanid kings. Rather, it depicts the demise of the Parthian dynasty, where Artabanus' figure has fallen under the feet of new rulers. Another view maintains that the fallen figure is Haftanbokht mentioned in Karnamak-i Ardashir, and the right figure is Kayus of Kermanshah who was reinstated as a local governor by Ardashir (the figure in the middle). It is now believed that the figures represent Ardashir I and his son Shapur I, stomping over the dead body of Artabanus IV, delighted and intoxicated with victory over their enemy. Izad, the Zoroastrian name for God, stands behind Ardeshir as a symbol of protection.

A closer look at the rock relief shows how meticulously Sassanid artists created this scene. The figure standing to the right wears a jagged crown. He has turned to the middle figure and holds out a ribbon-decked royal ring. The middle figure wears a helmet. Both figures have robes that cover their bodies to the knees, though the robes differ in detail with the middle figure's robe showing a rounded hem. The middle figure's helmet is also round and allows his curly hair to fall from beneath. This differs again from the crown worn by the figure on the right. Behind the middle figure, another figure stands in a halo of light around his head. This figure represents Izad Bahram, who, in all the extraordinary adventures of Ardashir, performs the role of guardian and guiding angel.

Previously, Izad Mithra (Mehr) had been the guardian god of the Parthian military. The feet of the Izad are noticeably smaller than the other figures. He wears delicate and elegant shoes. His small heels rest on a lotus, indicating the artists intention to create soft and tender platform for his delicate shoes. Relief panel measured on 15.08.07 is approx. 4.07m wide and 3.9m high. One of the most impressive reliefs inside the largest grotto or ivan is the gigantic equestrian figure of the Sassanid king Khosrow II (591-628 AD) mounted on his favorite charger, Shabdiz. Both horse and rider are arrayed in full battle armor. (read full story)


Pahlavi Inscriptions Found

Tehran, 21 Jan 2008 (Iran Daily)

A sample of Pahlavi Script

Two Sassanid era inscriptions were discovered in the third round of joint explorations undertaken by an Iran-French team in Kohan-Dej, Neyshabour, said head of Khorasan Razavi Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department.

According to IRNA, Abolfazl Mokarramifar added that these inscriptions are of great significance in determining the cultural status of Neyshabour, Khorasan Razavi province.

He further said that one of the inscriptions features four lines of writing in Pahlavi Sassanid Script, whose contents have not yet been deciphered.

However, according to experts, it is very important to identify the layers pertaining to the Sassanid civilization in Kohan-Dej, he added.

Another object, he said, is a plaque featuring a humped cow and wild goat along with an inscription in Parthian Pahlavi Script.

This year's archeological excavations focused on the architecture of the area which can shed light on the developments during the Sassanid period, added the official.

Referring to the earlier rounds of excavations, Mokarramifar also said that the studies revealed that Kohan-Dej was fortified by parallel fences like Takht-e Soleiman in West Azarbaijan province. (read full story)


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