Click here to see index of all Parthia in the News articles
Studies on Parthian Civilization in Kojour Fortress of Noshahr (29 Dec 2003)
Archeologists Trying to Establish Function of Gharbaliz in Central Iran (5 Dec 2003)
Babak Citadel Undergoes Emergency Restoration Works (4 Dec 2003)
Maneh & Samalghan, Rich in Historical Heritage (11 Nov 2003)
Replicas of Sassanid Tablets (16 Nov 2003)
Picking up the pieces in Baghdad (12 Oct 2003)
Rey Cultural Heritage Expands with New Finds (4 Oct 2003)
Archaeological excavations resume at Takht-e Soleyman (28 Sep 2003)
Computer Font Designed for Ancient Iranian Languages (5 Sep 2003)
Massive Ancient Cemetery Found in Northern Iran (3 Sep 2003)
Archeologists Start New Season of Excavations in Zahhak Castle (3 Sep 2003)
Ancient Iranian City of Margiana at Risk of Crumbling (31 Aug 2003)
Legendary Bactrian Gold Finally Surfaces (30 Aug 2003)
Afghan Tillya-tepe gold hoard found intact (29 Aug 2003)
Protective Zone of Takht-e Soleiman to be Accurately Specified (15 Jul 2003)
UN unveils new heritage sites (4 Jul 2003)
Parthian Ship Discovered in Bandar-e Reeg (Jun 2003)
Eleven Parthian statues lost in looting of Baghdad museum (30 Apr 2003)
Statue of King Saqnatroq II looted as Mosul descends into chaos (12 Apr 2003)
Riddle of 'Baghdad's batteries' (27 Feb 2003)
Riddle of the Parthian Batteries (27 Feb 2003)
29 Dec 2003 (CAIS)
The first research season in the historical area of the fortress of the Naser Abad-e Kojour Hill in the northern city of Noshahr led to the identification and analysis of unknown features from the Parthians' culture and civilization.
Head of the excavation team Reza Mousavi Mirkola underlining the importance of the project said that the boring pits in the site led to the discovery of a cemetery and a residential quarter, which, based on the existing cultural data, seem to belong to the Parthian civilization.
Kojour enjoyed richness and development at the time of the Parthian dynasty, who resided in various areas from the Mesopotamia and Iran plateau. Although this Iranian dynasty were in power over five centuries, but the information about this glorious Iranian empire is not enough.
5 Dec 2003 (CAIS)
The fourth excavation season of the historical area of Gharbaliz in the central province of Yazd has started and will continue for two months, aiming at the identification of its original form and its restoration.
Head of the archaeological team Dr. Azarmidokht Esfandiari explained that right now they are trying to repair and restore the architectural works damaged by climatic conditions, and afterwards the archeological and digging works will be carried out as usual.
She declared the work in Gharbaliz area very important and added that there may be a need for further excavations in the area’s vicinity and the cemetery nearby.
There have been various suggestions regarding the use of the ancient building; a school, a historical fortress, a residence, or most probably a religious monument or a temple for disciples of Mithraism (religious worshipping the sun) dating back to the Parthian dynasty
The results reached at in the three previous archeological seasons somehow confirm the theory of Gharbaliz being used for religious rituals.
The Gharbaliz area is located on the highlands of Lakhese mountain (part of Shir-Kuh), and the mountain besides the famous spring of Gharbaliz, which are considered two spiritual elements of Iranian prayers, stress the idea of the area being a religious site.
4 Dec 2003 (CAIS)
The emergency restoration and fortification of the Babak citadel were completed after more than eight months. The citadel, the stronghold of the Persian freedom fighter Babak Khorramdin, sits atop a 2300 meter mountain near Kaleibar in the East Azarbaijan province.
An official with the local cultural heritage department said the restoration and fortification of the citadel were meant to preserve the historical castle, an important venue of historical events.
"The project started early this year and included checking all citadel walls and rebuilding them as well as applying mortar to them," Firouz Birounara said.
The Babak citadel is a unique historical monument of the province which was the scene of long resistance against the Arab invasion. Built during the reign of the Parthian dynasty and modified under Sassanid empire, the citadel is located 16 km southwest of Kaleibar.
11 Nov 2003 (CAIS)
Maneh and Samalghan in the northern part of Khorasan province, northeast of Iran, enjoy a great historical background, with more than 140 historical monuments turning it into a valuable site.
According to head of the Cultural Heritage Department of Maneh and Samalghan Habib Sadri-Far, the richness of cultural and historical heritage in the area, including Ava hill, Khan castle, the Yellow stone monument, and different Imam Zadehs (holy places) has led to the creation of numerous rural cultural heritage associations there.
In Avesta the Zoroastrians holy book, the area has been acknowledged as the route used by the Aryans (Iranians), and the discovery of more than 700 coins of the Sassanid period, plus the ancient city of Aziz Abad which has been the key government center of the Parthian dynasty, are signs of the historical and national importance of the area.
He also named the Espakhu stone monument, which is a beautiful Zoroastrian fire temple known as Espakhu Church among people, as the most intact historical monument of the Sassanid era in Khorasan, adding that the monument is just six kilometers away from the international road in the area and can be considered one of the most important tourist attractions there.
Richness of the historical monuments has attracted many looters to the area, making illegal excavations one of the greatest worries in Maneh and Samalghan, declared Sadri-Far.
The area, despite its rich historical heritage and also its diverse ethnicity, is not so far properly introduced, still left unknown to many.
16 Nov 2003 (CAIS)
The Cultural Heritage Organization (CHO) experts made replicas of some 26 tablets from the Sassanid period.
The tablets written in Parthian and Sasanian Pahlavi (middle Persian), Greek were copied by experts with the language and dialect research center affiliated to the CHO.
The Emperor Ardashir tablets from Firouzabad, Naqsh-e Rustam, allegedly Ahuramazda in Naqsh-e Rustam, Shapur in Zoroaster Kaba, Shapur in Boraq mountain pass and Shapur in Taq-e Bostan are among tablets copied.
The Emperor Shapur in Kabeh of Zoroaster is the biggest, most important of the Sassanid era tablets, inscribed in the reign of Shapur the Great, the second Sassanid king of kings.
It is copied from the Bisotun tablet, which deals with the three wars eperor Shapur fought with the Roman empire. The replicas are held in the Niavaran palace museum.
12 Oct 2003 (The Art Newspaper) by Martin Bailey
Among the items in the Baghdad Museum that a British Museum report singles out for urgent conservation or packing away for future work are three marble Parthian statues that were toppled during the looting. One of Poseidon was broken into many pieces and the other two are less severely damaged. (click here for full article)
4 Oct 2003 (CAIS)
New excavations in the ancient city of Rey south of Tehran have rendered some 172 cultural and historical relics said Bakhshandeh, head of the excavation team. He added: “Before starting the excavation work, only 50 historical places have been found in Rey, but following the completion of this project, the number has risen to 172."
Remains of the Rey's Parthian/Sasanian Fire Temple
In this project, 28 castles, 8 caravanserais, 21 old houses and buildings, as well as 31 hills and historical compounds, 6 mosques, 47 tombs, 5 historical bathhouses, and 29 other cultural and historical sites have been found all around the Rey area.”
The excavation process includes documentation, examination of the sites, and drawing the archeological map of the Rey area.
As one of the most important centers of the cultural and historical developments in the central Iranian plateau, Rey has an 8000-year history. There are remarkable ruins in this city, among which the cultural and historical complex of Cheshmeh Ali, Khamush Tower, Mil Hill, and the Seljuk citadel are the most outstanding ones.
28 Sep 2003 (Pavand.com)
Head of West Azarbaijan province Cultural Heritage Department Behrouz Omrani declared in Mahabad, West Azarbaijan province on Sunday the outset of the third season of archaeological excavation in Takht-e Soleyman Complex in the city of Takab.
He told IRNA that a 10-member group of Iranian archaeologists are in charge of the excavation at Takht-e Soleyman Complex, which has recently been listed as a global heritage.
"The project mainly aims at examining the link between the seals of the Sassanid era with the administrative units included in the complex and identification of the administration system operating in the city of Takht-e Soleyman under the rule of Sassanids," he added.
During the excavation, the connection between the major northern gate with the fire temple in the complex will be examined and restored.
In the second season of the excavations, it was enlightened that under the reign of Ilkhanids, Takht-e Soleyman Complex, excluding the official section, was converted into a charitable township consisting of a bazaar, mosque, bathroom and a number of residential buildings around the northern gate. The complex located to the northeast of the present city of Takab in West Azarbaijan province is one of the three major Zoroastrian fire temples.
During the reign of Sassanid dynasty, it was called Azargoshasb. The monument has also been registered as 'Shiz' and 'Ganzak'. During the 27th meeting of the Cultural Heritage Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, a clear majority voted in favor of listing it as a global monument without facing any opposition.
Takht-e Soleyman is the relic of the tower, big palace and the residents of Zoroastrian priests in Parthian and Sassanid eras. It was later destroyed under the raid of the Romans and the plunder of Mongols.
The castle consists of a pool, praying center, entry gates, high pillars, a veranda, fire places, mineral water reserves and strongholds.
Takab with a population of 85,000 is located to the south of West Azarbaijan province in northwestern Iran some 300 kms from the center of the province.
5 Sep 2003 (CAIS)
An Iranian expert has designed a computer-generated orthography for ancient Iranian languages.
Maryam Hassan Khani, an expert with the national museum tablets hall said she set out to produce an orthography using computers since many books on ancient languages only had their transliteration and translation while only in rare cases texts were given in handwritten manuscripts. “I started work with producing the orthography for the bookish Pahlavi language, using Corel software,” she remarked.
Head of the national museum tablets hall described the main function of the font as an educational one, saying a computer generated font would disallow mistakes committed in manual copying, while preserving the characters’ original shape.
“A good part of the tablets has been lost in the passage of time. This font will make it possible to re-produce characters and words in books,” Dariush Akbarzadeh added. So far, the Parthian, inscription Pahlavi, Avestan and other ancient Iranian handwriting have been produced in the museum.
3 Sep 2003 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)
An Iranian archeologist has discovered a vast 400 hectare cemetery in northern Iran which is believed to belong to an ancient civilization.
Mohammad Reza Khalatbari said when one discovers a three thousand year old cemetery, it is as though he has pushed back time to that point. "And what enjoyment can surpass this?" he said.
The 53 year old archeologist started his work some 25 years ago in northern Iran. He began excavations in Weskeh, near Talesh in the Gilan province in 1991.
"We found relics from the Parthian and Arsacid period in early excavations," he noted.His later efforts led to the discovery of a large cemetery some 400 hectares in area, lying among mountains.
He believes the Cadusis were the main inhabitants of the area. Yet, no architectural work of the time has been found. Khalatbari is on the belief that that's because people would use wood as the main construction material.
"And wood is highly degradable," he stressed.
Since these people believed in the life after death, he remarked, they buried tools and ornaments with their dead. (click here for full article)
3 Sep 2003 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)
Archaeologists launched fourth archaeological excavation season in the Zahhak Castle historical site.
A report released by the media department of Iran`s Cultural Heritage Organization (ICHO) said that archaeologists look for remains of a single pillar base of Parthian era.
The head of the archaeological group, Javad Qandgar, said that in the first phase of excavation, a parlor made of brick, mortar and plasterwork, which was decorated with human figures as well as plant and geometrical motifs, was unearthed in the castle.
The castle is likely to have been a government building or temple of one of the religions practiced in the Ashkanid era.
"Zahhak Castle historical site was a defensive and military stronghold, but nothing is known on its date of construction and the reason for selection of its name.
The ancient site which is located 16 kms to the east of Hashtroud, in East Azarbaijan province, was first unearthed by a British colonel in 1830. (click here for full article)
31 Aug 2003 (CAIS)
The walls of Erk-Kala, built in the 6th century B.C.E. (1,800 feet across and 150 feet tall)
Neither Arabs or Genghis Khan's hordes and later invaders couldn't wipe the great Iranian city at Merv from the earth when they killed thousands here in their bloody wave of conquest. Centuries later, though, modern man's meddling with Mother Nature threatens to obliterate the remains of the metropolis.
The Ancient Iranian City of Margiana or the city that today known as Merv enjoyed a golden age during the 11th and 12th centuries, when the Sultan Kala fortress was the eastern capital of the Iranianized Saljuq Empire and one of the world's biggest cities. Legend says the blue dome of the Sultan Sanjar mausoleum was visible a day's journey away. Even when Mongolian warriors led by Genghis Khan's son sacked the city in 1221, killing what a 13th century historian claimed were 1.3 million Iranians, the city still stood.
Today, the mausoleum is still Merv's crowning landmark, but the dome's blue tiles disappeared long ago. Well-intentioned Soviet efforts in the 1980s to preserve the structure by capping the dome with concrete did more harm than good, trapping water inside and weighing it down.
After its separation from Iran, the Soviet irrigation projects are also having ill effects on Merv. They brought new life to the desert country of which is today known as Turkmenistan, but now water is seeping from the ground into corrugated mud-brick castles and putting them on the verge of collapse. Preservationist organizations, including the New York-based World Monuments Fund and the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), warn that Merv is in desperate need of protection.
"The situation is pretty critical," said Tim Williams, head of the International Merv Project at University College London. He said structures that have stood for hundreds, even thousands of years, "won't last more than another decade" without urgent conservation work.
Merv is unique because ruins of five settlements dating from the 6th century B.C. to the 18th century A.D. are located side by side, scattered across 3,700 acres, rather than stacked on top of each other. The Turkman government has given $1.5 million for a two-year project to restore the mausoleum. Some 20 other buildings at the site haven't received much attention, however, and Williams said they are now threatened with irreversible damage.
Merv was designated a park in 1990, but it's still open territory for camel herders and irrigation canals that crisscross the landscape. Power lines stretch along newly built roads, and part of the park is closed off by a military installation. Next door is the Merv collective farm, where cotton and wheat are grown year-round. Farmers irrigate their crops with water from the Karakum Canal, built in the 1950s, which diverts water from the Amu-Darya River to the Karakum desert.
The water seeps into the ground and is absorbed into the mud-brick structures. When the water dries, the salt it has picked up from the ground crystallizes, expanding inside the bricks and making them susceptible to wind erosion and collapse, foreign experts say. In at least two of the site's key remaining buildings, the Great Kyz Kala and Little Kyz Kala, or Maiden Fortresses -- square structures dating from around the late Sasanian era. -- walls are beginning to lean and are at risk of toppling over.
Williams said it would take about $2 million to start work on many of the endangered buildings. Preserving the mausoleum's wall paintings alone could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said.
The government of tightly controlled Turkmenistan has allowed international experts to work at the site, but park director Rejepmurat Jepbarov said he doesn't get much financial support from the government.
The capital Ashgabat has seen a spate of construction since Turkmenistan's 1991 independence -- with white marble buildings and a gold-colored statue of the president crowning a new government center. However, local workers at Merv sometimes go months without receiving their salaries, said Mahmoud Bendakir, an architect from Grenoble, France, who is working at the site.
Under Bendakir's direction, preservationists funded by UNESCO have dug pits across Merv, looking for the right earth to build new bricks to help shore up the buildings' walls. Bendakir said residents had forgotten traditional methods for making high-quality mud bricks, so the preservationists experiment with different proportions of mud and water, sometimes adding straw or lime.
Once Merv's preservation is secure, experts hope to refocus on uncovering artifacts from the past -- which could take still more centuries because of the vastness of the site, said David Gandreau, a doctoral student in archaeology from Grenoble. "Merv keeps a lot of secrets for the moment," he said. (click here to read full article).
30 Aug 2003 (CAIS)
Legendary 2000-year-old Tillya Tepe Bactrian gold hoard is safe and sound after lying hidden in a bank vault for the past 14 years, President Hamid Karzai said on Friday.
The priceless collection of gold ornaments dating back about 2000 years was safely stored in a presidential palace vault throughout the civil war and Taliban regime.
"Fortunately the gold exists. We opened one box and saw the gold," Karzai told reporters minutes after the vault was opened on Friday morning for the first time in more than a decade. "Everything is safe and in its place... " Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, central bank governor Anwar Ul-haq Ahady, Justice Minister Abdul Rahim Karimi and other experts were inspecting the hoard before resealing and locking the treasury, he said.
Since Afghanistan separation from mainland Iran by British, much of Ancient Eastern-Iranian rich cultural heritage was destroyed or looted during the 1992-96 civil war and under the Taliban, who notoriously destroyed the ancient Buddha statues in Bamiyan valley.
"We need to take stock because there are some very valuable manuscripts and particularly our major collection of gold coins from Tillya Tepe, or the 'Golden Hill'," Ghani told reporters earlier this month when he revealed that the priceless antiquities were safe. Ghani said the vault had not been opened in more than 14 years despite efforts by the Taliban to force staff to reveal the code.
"Last time we had difficulties opening the inner vault because during the Taliban they tried to open this and the staff of the bank very courageously had blocked the code. They were beaten almost senseless... but resisted and did not reveal the code," he said.
The collection was unearthed in northern Afghanistan in 1978 during the excavation of ancient burial mounds by Greek-Russian archaeologist Victor Sariyannidis, just prior to the Soviet invasion.
The tombs near Sheberghan held around 20,000 objects, including gold coins and jewellery. Present-day northern Afghanistan was the former Iranian kingdom of Bactria, which is the birth place of prophet Zoroaster. Bactria was conquered by Alexander in 327 BCE. (click here to read full article).
London, 29 Aug 2003 (BBC News Reports, )
Thought lost to the looting during the Taliban revolution in Afghanistan, the gold treasure was uncovered during the excavation of ancient burial mounds by the Greek-Russian archaeologist Victor Sarianidi prior to the Soviet invasion of the country in 1978. Among the artifacts are Parthian coins. (click here to read full article)
15 Jul 2003 (CAIS)
Following the inscription of Takht-e Soleiman on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the protective zone around it will be accurately specified.
The protective zone had previously been specified due to its inscription on the Iran's National Heritage List. Now, the demarcation of the area is put at the top of the list of the group working at the historical site.
"The inscription of Takht-e Soleiman on UNESCO’s World Heritage List forces us to demark in the current year the protective zone of the complex on the spots that are in danger of manipulation or occupation," explained the head of the group based in Takht-e Soleiman Ibrahim Heidari.
Also on the measures that should be undertaken after the addition of the site to the World Heritage List, Heidari said that from now on beside the reports already provided to Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization, other periodical reports of the activities at the complex should be sent out to UNESCO.
The historical complex of Takht-e Soleiman that encompasses the largest Zoroastrian fire temple of Iran was added to the UNESCO's World Heritage List last week.
The ancient, historical fort Takht-e- Suleiman occupies an area of about 124,000 square metres and is one of Iran’s most important ancient monuments, comprising ruins dating back to the Sassanid, Ashkanian, and Islmaic periods.
Takht-e-Suleiman is in the district of Takab at an altitude of 2,400 metres and consists of a majestic building about 20m. High, erected on top of a hill, and a strong stone battlement. One enters the monument through a large gate above which traces of an inscription in Kufic style can be seen, which belongs to the Moghul period and is indicative of the reparation of the place in that period.
The present monument is believed to have originally been the site of the famous Azargoshasb (Shiz) fire-altar and the birth place of Prophet Zaroaster which propagated by Sasanians, and its construction has been attributed to the Parthian and Sassanid sovereigns.
Other monuments that have been so far inscribed on the list include: Persepolis in Shiraz, Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, and Choghazanbil in southwest Iran about 40 km southeast of the ancient city of Susa.
London, 4 Jul 2003 (BBC News Reports)
The Buddhas had stood for around 1,800 years The ancient Iraqi city of Ashur and Afghanistan's Bamiyan Valley, where towering statues of Buddha were destroyed by the former Taleban regime, have been designated world heritage sites by the United Nations. They were among 24 sites added to the annual list compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
Sites in Gambia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Sudan were also recognised for the first time.
The list now includes 754 sites of "outstanding universal value", according to Unesco.
The sites in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have suffered from war and civil unrest, have also been added to Unesco's List of World Heritage in Danger.
The new Unesco heritage sites are: [excerpts]
- Bamiyan Valley, Afghanistan: Previously home to two colossal statues of Buddha, which were blown up by the Taleban in February 2001, provoking worldwide condemnation. Unesco says the choice "symbolises the hope of the international community that extreme acts of intolerance, such as the deliberate destruction of the Buddhas, are never repeated again".
- Takht-e Soleyman, Iran: The archaeological site in north-western Iran includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th Century) as well as a temple of the Sasanian period (6th and 7th Centuries AD) dedicated to Anahita.
- Ashur (Qala'at at Sherqat), Iraq: The ancient city of Ashur dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. From the 14th to the 9th Centuries BC, it was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire. The city was destroyed by the Babylonians, but revived during the Parthian period in the 1st and 2nd century AD.
- Citadel, Ancient City and Fortress Buildings of Derbent, Russian Federation: Part of the northern limits of the Sassanian Persian Empire, which extended east and west of the Caspian Sea. The town of Derbent has retained part of its medieval fabric.
June 2003 (Iranian Cultural Heritage News Agency)
This news reported on the website (in Persian) of Iranian Cultural Heritage foundation which reports the recent discovery of a ship near the shores of Bandar-e Reeg, on the Persian Gulf, near Gonaveh. The fishermen have surfaced an anchor with several other artifacts, including pottery pieces, and the local CHN Representative says that they think it is from the Parthian period, based on preliminary studies. They have not discovered the actual ship yet, since they have very few marine archaeologists. (click here for full article)
"Experts mourn the Lion of Nimrud, looted as troops stood by"
Wednesday April 30, 2003 (The Guardian) by Fiachra Gibbons, arts correspondent
Eleven statues and heads of statues from the Roman-period Parthian city of Hatra and a statue of Hermes from Nineveh are listed as lost. (click here for full article)
Mosul, Saturday, 12 Apr 2003 (The Guardian)
By the time Asif Mohammed turned up for work yesterday morning, the ancient contents of Mosul's museum had vanished. The looters knew what they were looking for, and in less than 10 minutes had walked off with several million dollars worth of Parthian sculpture.
The 2,000-year-old statue of King Saqnatroq II - one of Iraq's forgotten monarchs - had disappeared from its cabinet. Lying on the glass-strewn floor were the remains of several mythical birds and an Athenian goddess, apparently broken by the looters as they made their escape. (rest of story)
London, 27 Feb 2003 (BBC News Reports)
Arran Frood investigates what could have been the very first batteries and how these important archaeological and technological artefacts are now at risk from the impending war in Iraq.
War can destroy more than a people, an army or a leader. Culture, tradition and history also lie in the firing line.
Iraq has a rich national heritage. The Garden of Eden and the Tower of Babel are said to have been sited in this ancient land.
In any war, there is a chance that priceless treasures will be lost forever, articles such as the "ancient battery" that resides defenceless in the museum of Baghdad.
For this object suggests that the region, whose civilizations gave us writing and the wheel, may also have invented electric cells - two thousand years before such devices were well known. (rest of story)
27 Feb 2003 (CAIS)
Essentially the same story as BBC report above, rewritten (click here to read article).
This page last updated 13 Mar 2021