Monday, July 11, 2016

Open Access Journal: Sasanika Archaeological Reports and Articles

[First posted in AWOL 12 September 2012, updated 11 July 2016]

Sasanika Archaeological Reports

A Survey of the Archaeology of the Sasanian Period during the past three decades

Ali Mousavi, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
jalaliA large number of monuments, buildings, rock reliefs, inscriptions, and collections of coins and manuscripts have formed our present image of Sasanian history and culture. The history of the Sasanian empire can be easily written and understood without having resort to archaeological fieldwork. In this regard, the best example is Arthur Christensen’s history of the Sasanians, l’Iran sous les Sassanides, which was published in 1936 in Copenhagen, a masterpiece that has always been an indispensable source of information for historians and archaeologists. In contrast, the investigation of material culture in the Sasanian period essentially depends on archaeological remains and artifacts. ... READ MORE

Sasanian Vaults

Morvarid Mazhari Motlagh, Tarbiat Modaress University, Tehran
esasanika-16-fimageThere is no information available on the history of architecture and construction of vaults in the structure of buildings: however with men leaving the caves and establishing buildings it should have some applications in the past. Among the primitive vaults in the Iranian architecture we can mention the mass grave of Teppe Ahar in Haft Tappeh within the ancient time of the art of the medieval Elam about 1400 B.C. and the temple (Ziggurat) of Choghazanbil in the town of Dor-Antash (12th, 13th centuries B.C.) in Khuzestan province. Meanwhile, a Median fortress has been discovered at the Noushijan valley, near Hamedan which has a fireplace with a veranda and oval and barrel vaults constructed on the basis of technical and mathematical principles (Zomarshidi, 1994: 3-4). ... READ MORE

Archaeological Excavations in the So-Called “Palace of Sāsān” at Sarvestān, Fars

Ali-Reza Askari Chāverdi, University of Shiraz, Iran
Archaeological-01-fimageSarvestān is a township en route from Shirāz to Dārāb. This township serves as the first reststop along the route from Shirāz to eastern Fārs, some 65 km to the east of Shirāz. Both Shirāz and Sarvestān are located in one the more fertile NW‐SE plains in the southern Zagros Mountains. The large Mahārlou Lake (also known as the “Salt Lake”) is located in the middle of this plain. The water from streams in Shiraz flow into the northern parts of the latter lake. The Mahārlou Lake divides the plain into two northern and southern parts. The city of Shirāz is located in the northern half and the township of Sarvestān in the southern part, some 20 km to the southeast of the Lake. ... READ MORE

Sasanians in the Persian Gulf According to Archaeological Data

Farhang Khademi Nadooshan; Seyyed Mehdi Mousavi; H. Tofighian
Archaeological-02-fimageArchaeological investigations in the northern coast of the Persian Gulf and in few sites in Khuzistan have yielded evidence for the use of amphorae in Iran, in the Parthian and Sasanian period, in burials as well as trade. No evidence for production centers of amphorae in Iran has yet been found. Nonetheless, given the paucity of excavations and surveys on the coastal regions of Iran and the lack of chemical analysis of the available evidence, the possibility that at least some of the consumed amphorae where made locally must not be ruled out. The amphorae found in these southern regions are mainly of “Torpedo” type. The present paper summarizes the most significant finds of amphorae in the ancient ports of Persian Gulf including discoveries in the course of underwater investigations of Rig Port in 2001.   ... READ MORE

New Finds from a Parthian-Sasanian City near the Persian Gulf: “Korān”

Mohammad Bagher Vosoughi
Translated by:
Greg Watson
Archaeological-03-fimageThe fall of the Achaemenid Empire at the hands of Alexander of Macedonia involved destructive consequences for the Province of Fars. As the homeland of the Achaemenids, Fars was of special significance and suffered repeated attacks from Alexander and his successors. The Achaemenid capital and royal palaces were burnt to the ground and those of princely rank were scattered. At the same time the particular geographical position of “Pārs” was an obstacle to the unimpeded power of Alexander and his replacements. Although the northern strip of the province was under the direct rule of the Selucids, historical evidence indicates that in the third century before Christ, regional power-brokers in the south of Pārs gained a relative degree of independence.   ... READ MORE

Julian: A Newly Discovered Fire-Temple in Ābdānān

Yaghobb Mohammadidar, Bu Ali Sina University; Abbāss Motarjem
Translated by:
Greg Watson
Archaeological-04-fimageThe highland district of Ābdānān is located in the southern portion of Ilam province. It is dominated by the mountain of Kabir‐Kuh which stands over it like a massive wall. In 2001, a team from the Archaeological Department of Bu‐Ali Sina University conducted a regional survey of this area. In total, 51 archeological sites were identified during this ground‐breaking survey. The site of the city of Julian is one of the most remarkable of these. The newly‐discovered Julian chahartaq is a fire temple belonging to the Sasanid era. Like many other fire temples of that time, Julian was built with stone and plaster mortar. This chahartaq is the surviving part of the heart of a larger structure, and consists of four stone wall and piers of different sizes surrounded by an ambulatory passageway. ... READ MORE

The Chahar Taqi Complex of Naqar-e Khan-e (مجموعه چھارطاقی نقاره خانه)

Forouzan Shadrouh, Islamic Azad University, Abhar, Iran; Milad Vandaee, Islamic Azad University, Hamadan, Iran
Archaeological-07-fimageميلاد وندائی, عضو باشگاه پژوھشگران جوان دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی واحد ھمدان فروزان شادروح, دانشگاه آزاد اسلامی واحد ابھر چھارطاقی ھا آثاری مذھبی از دوره ی ساسانيان( 224-651.م) ھستند که در داخل و خارج مرزھای امروزی ايران قابل پيگيری می باشند. خواستگاه اصلی خاندان ساسانی استان فارس بوده و اين مھم باعث گرديد که تا   انقراض آنان اين منطقه موقعيت سياسی - مذھبی خود را حفظ کند، بر ھمين اساس آثار بسياری به ويژه مذھبی در اين منطقه ساخته شد که تعدادی از آنان تا امروز برای ما باقی مانده اند. طی يک بررسی خصوصی نگارندگان موفق به شناسايی  20  مجموعه چھارطاقی پيرامون ... READ MORE

Markings on Rocks from the Sasanian Period at Behistun (سنگھای تراش خورده و نشان حجاران دورۀ ساسانی در محوطه پارتی بيستون)

Sajad Alibeigi, Islamic Azad University, Hamadan, Iran
Archaeological-06-fimageسجاد علیبيگی بخشي از مجموعه تاريخي فرھنگي بيستون در برگيرندۀ مجموعهاي كم نظير از بقاياي بناھاي گوناگون دورۀ ساساني و مصالح پراكندۀ وابسته به آنھاست. قسمتھايي از مجموعه شامل كارگاهھاي عظيم سنگتراشي و پراكندگي قابل توجھي از سنگھاي مكعب مستطيل تراش خورده است. اغلب اين سنگھا دارای علائم مختلف است که در سطح صاف شدۀ سنگ حک شدهاند ... READ MORE

Siāh-Kal: A Newly Discovered Chahar Taq in Zarneh of the Ilam Province

Mohammad-Javad Jafari; Milad Vandaee, Islamic Azad University, Hamadan, Iran
SiahKalMapping and studying religious monuments of each period, beyond the scale of single sites, sheds light on several social, cultural, and political aspects of the period under study. Given the significance of Zoroastrianism as the state religion in the Sasanian period, mapping and studying Sasanian Zoroastrian monuments form a fundamental component of our understanding of various aspects of the Sasanian Empire. What follows is a report on the recently mapped Chahar Taq of Siāh Kal, part of an ongoing project of mapping Sasanian religious monuments. The term Chahar Taq refers to the central domed space in the Zoroastrian fire temples of Sasanian and Early Islamic period. The text survived from the Sasanian period report on the construction of Chahar Taqs under the patronage of kings and elites. ... 

Siraf Archeological Report

Soma Khakzad
Historical sources inform us of the significance of maritime activity in the history of ancient Persia. Certain phases of the maritime history of ancient Persia are in particular highlighted in the sources at our disposal, for example the account of the Salamis wars between the Persia and the Greece in the Achaemenid period or the account of the sea trade between Persia and Far East in the Sasanian and early Islamic Periods (Casson 1971; Hasan 1928). We know that the Silk Road passed through the northern coast of the Persian Gulf (Casson 1991) and we know of several ancient ports on this route, such as Kong, Gonāweh, Lengeh, Qeshm, etc (Ra’in 1371).

The Architecture and Status of Iranian Temples in the Sasanian Era

Ehsan Tahmasbi, Islamic Azad University, Sarvestan, Iran
The present work describes a historical study of Iranian temples in the Sasanian era. The most important questions addressed here are on the way the rituals were performed, the status and significance of the temples in this era and the previous empires as well as architectural arrangement and the most important spaces of these temples mostly referred to as fire temples. Toward this end, first, the most important characteristics of Iranian society in the Sasanian era including the relationship between religion and government and status of the clergy among social classes are studied. Then, the status of temples in that era including the ceremonies and events held in the buildings are addressed. In the third section, architectural arrangement of the Parthian temples will be examined and in the final section, the Sasanian temples, mostly fire temples, are explored. The results indicated that both religious ceremonies including prayers before the sacred fire and ritual festivals and imperial rituals were celebrated in the fire temples. Main spaces of famous fire temples are: Eyvan, dome chamber, and courtyard arranged in a row on an axis.


Yaghobb Mohammadidar, Bu Ali Sina University
Archaeological-09-fimageSar‐Gandāb is located in the western part of Iran, in the Zagros Mountains, close to the border between the provinces of Ilam and Lorestan (Fig1). The geographical coordinates of the sites are 33°30’21.17″N, 46°53’44.29″E. Sar‐Gandāb is 36 km northeast of Seymareh Dam, as the crew flies (Fig2). It is possible that the strategic significance of the site in antiquity was more than what present conditions suggest: Sar‐Gandāb is located on a natural northwest‐southeast passage through a narrow valley of Zagros. At some locations, valley is as narrow as three kilometers. But, at the vicinity of Sar‐Gandāb, the valley widens and reaches a maximum width of four kilometers (Fig3). Water is abundant. In addition to the River Seymareh, a Sulphur spring originates near the site and its water is used for irrigated agriculture (Fig6).

Qalāt/Qobad Fort: A Sasanian-Islamic Fort in Kavār, Southeast of Shiraz

Parsa Ghasemi; Maryam Esmaili; Greg Watson
qalatThe county of Kavār is located about 50 km southeast of Shiraz, on one of the old caravan routes between Shiraz, the Persian Gulf and the east regions of Iran. An archaeological survey of the Tasūj sub-district of Kavār was undertaken by Parsa Ghasemi in the winter of 2012. Thirty four archaeological sites were identified. One of the most important sites proved to be the fort of Qalāt or Qobād, on the Mount Qalāt, southwest of the Mahārlū Lake, between Sarvestān and Kavār. Surface finds suggest that the fort was in use from the Sasanian (3rd-7th centuries CE) to the Early and Middle Islamic period (7th-12th centuries CE). This paper summarizes the results of the survey of the Qalāt Fort.

The Northernmost Zoroastrian Fire-Temple in the World

Touraj Daryaee, University of California, Irvine
AtashKadehThe Caucasus is a land of diverse population and beliefs. Today, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Yazidis live in cities and villages in the valleys and gorges of the region. One religion that had a strong impact on ancient Armenia, Georgia, and the Republic of Azerbijan was Zoroastrianism. While the sources and views of Zoroastrianism are mainly from its homeland, Iran, Zoroastrianism also flourished in the Caucasus in conjunction with the local, native religions of the region. Kartveli or Georgia was converted to Christianity in the fourth century CE. The traditional date given for this momentous event in the history of Georgia is 337 CE. According to Christian sources, King Mirian (Mihran) converted from “paganism,” but a closer look at the sources suggests that the king and the people of ancient Georgia were worshipers of Ohrmazd (Ahura Mazda).

A Study of the Imagery and Place of Women in the Sasanian Period: Sigillographic Evidence

Mohadese Malekān, College of Art and Architecture, Bu-Ali Sina University Hamedan, Iran; Yaghōb Mohammadifar, College of Art and Architecture, Bu-Ali Sina University Hamedan, Iran
Translated by:
Greg Watson
bowl-royal-banquet copyAn important source for the history of certain periods is the seals and sealings that date from them. This applies especially to the Sasanian period of Iranian history, from which only a relatively slight corpus of epigraphic material has survived. A certain proportion of the thousands of seals we have from this period are associated with women. Studying these seals may offer researchers interesting insights into the place of women in Sasanian society. Of course, the practice of representing images of women on seals has long antecedents, and on Sasanian seals, the only evidence that enables us to identify the owner of a seal as a woman, with any degree of certainty, is the existence of a female name in the accompanying inscription.The majority of seals bearing an image of a woman also have an inscription in the Pahlavi script where the name is a compound that includes the suffix dukht, meaning „lady‟ or „daughter‟. The image of a woman accompanied by a female name on a seal suggests that woman‟s individual autonomy, right to property ownership, and possibly, sometimes, some sort of official administrative position or post held by that woman.

The Tang-e Qandil Bas-Relief: A Reconsideration

Milād Vandāee, Department of Archaeology, Hamedan Branch, Islamic Azad University, Hamedan, Iran
Translated by:
Greg Watson
tang-eQandilThe Sasanian bas-relief in the Qandil Gorge, is one that has been the subject of much debate in the archaeological community over the identities of the individuals represented in it. The work itself is one of the least accessible examples of Sasanian art, and was the last of its type to come to the attention of archaeologists. This paper is the outcome of three investigations conducted by the author in the years 2008, 2009 and 2012, which were presented in a Persian article titled “A Review of the Depiction of Narseh in Sasanian Pictorial Bas-Reliefs”, published in volume one of the book Sasanian Pictorial Bas-Reliefs I written by this author, which compared the Tang-e Qandil relief with representations in the Barm-e Dilak I and Naghsh-e Rostam VIII reliefs (Vandāii, 2013). The current paper first considers the location of the relief and its dimensions. It then briefly describes the composition and discusses the varying understandings of different scholars. The paper concludes with this writer‟s own considered view of the identities of the figures depicted in the work.

A Concise Report on Some Newly Found Sasanian Sites in Kazerun

Sirus Barfi; Mosaib Amiri; Soodabeh Malekzadeh; Touraj Daryaee
e-sas-arch16Archeological surveys conducted in the valley of Kazerun show that this plane is one of the areas in Fars that has enjoyed human interest since prehistoric times, especially the Neolithic period which gained profound importance during the Sasanian era. The establishment of the city of Bishapur, ordered by Shapur I is one of the reasons pertaining to this planes rise in importance. In the summer of 2005, the monuments and remnants of the Kazerun plane were studied and prepared to be registered. Ultimately registration dossiers were provided for some of the findings. Among the identified remnants and findings were some Sasanian areas which have not yet been introduced.

Gompu: A Neglected and Remote Sasanian Dam

Mohammad Jafar Malekzadeh
Translated by:
Soodabeh Malekzadeh
arch17-smLocal people know this dam by the name of Gompu. Gompu is constructed in a tight and deep valley situated in Mount Bol[1], Lārestan, Fārs, Iran. This specific choice of name can be related to the Persian word gomp. In the majority of the dialects of Fārs, gomp or γomp means a natural pond or pool no matter what the size, and makes complete sense as we see that down the valley where the dam is located, there is a pond or gomp that is in fact a more or less round pool with stone walls[2]. Water flows into the stone pool both from the river bed and from water seeping into it from below, which leaves the pool full of water even months after the flood has subsided. Water flows from south-east to north-west in the valley and the axis of the dam is at right angle to the flow direction.

[1] Bol in Middle Persian means “high”.
[2] Some neighboring villages consider the stone pool downstream of the dam as a more or less sacred site with healing powers. Still to this day locals take the aged or the ill to the pool to bathe, and hopefully be healed.

The Evolution of Religious Architecture in the Sasanian Period

Ali Hozhabri; Editor: Milad Vandaee
Translated by:
Greg Watson
RelArchThe chahārtāgh – meaning „four arches‟ – was the most distinctive and emblematic religious architectural form produced in ancient Iran, particularly in the Sasanian period (ca. 224-650 CE). It is a true Iranian national architectural symbol (Godard 1371/1992: 78). The essential architectural plan of the chahārtāgh was a form much employed for religious buildings of Iran in the pre-Islamic period and after, either in standalone form or as an element of a larger complex (Neyestāni et. al, 1391/2012: 173). The chahārtāgh is a symmetrical architectural form on a square plan with four corner piers that form the pillars for the arches and support a domed roof.

بررسی باستان شناسی منطقه پاکوه نایین: مطالعه موردی آثار ساسانی محوطه شیرکوه

علمدار علیان, کارشناس ارشد اداره کل میراث فرهنگی، صنایع دستی و گردشگری استان اصفهان; عادله دینلی, کارشناس ارشد باستان شناسی

منطقه پاکوه نایین با وسعتی معادل 30000 هکتار در 30 کیلومتری شمالغرب شهرستان نایین واقع شده و به دلیل وجود شرایط زیست محیطی مساعد جهت رشد رستنی ها و زیست گونه های متعدد حیوانی، بالقوه واجد شرایط شکل گیری جوامع متعدد انسانی در گذر زمان بوده است، بر همین اساس بررسی باستان شناسی منطقه مزبور با هدف شناسایی کلیه آثار فرهنگی منطقه صورت پذیرفت که منجر به شناسایی محوطه شیرکوه، بناهای ساسانی وابسته آن و ساختارهای معماری اسلامی منطقه گردید. افزون بر این منتج بررسی سیستماتیک محوطه شیرکوه کشف 9 قطعه سفال جلینگی استاندارد اشکانی برای اولین بار در استان اصفهان بود.
کلید واژگان: شیرکوه، پاکوه، نایین، چهارطاقی، سفال جلینگی، ساسانیان.

بهرام دوم در گویوم و برم دلک

Milad Vandaee
شاهنشاهی ساسانیان(224- 651.م) را مي‌توان يكي از پررونق‌ترين و طلايي‌ترين دوران‌هاي فرهنگ، هنر و معماري در تاريخ و باستان‌شناسي ايران دانست. نقوش برجسته‌ي اين دوره يكي از هنرهاي مهم و نمادین است كه عموماً كاربردي سلطنتي دارد، و تنها توسط خاندان ساسانی اجازه ی استفاده از این سبک هنری وجود داشته است. اما در دوران بهرام دوم، فضای استفاده از این هنر کمی بازتر می شود و ما می توانیم انعطاف هنری آن را بیشتر مشاهده کنیم، هر چند پس از مرگ بهرام دوم، دیگر چنین اتفاقی رخ نمی دهد. نگارنده طي سه بررسي خصوصي در سالهاي 1387 ، 1389 و 1390  در منطقه‌ي فارس، كرمانشاه و سلماس از تمامي نقوش اين دوران ديدن كرده و سعي در بازبيني و تدوين اين نقوش داشته‌ام. هدف ما در این مقاله شناسایی هویت شاهان موجود در دو نقش برجسته ی گویوم و برم دلک دو است، و تلاش بر آن داریم تا هنرمند و سبک هنری آن را بهتر بازشناسیم، در این میان به طور اختصار نیز سخنی از نقش برجسته برم دلک سه انجام خواهد گرفت.
 And see also:

e-Sasanika: Original Articles
Sasanika Newsletter

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