The Temple of Anahita at Kangavar

The article below on the temple of Anahita in Kangavar near Kermanshah in Western Iran was originally published in the Historical Iran Blogspot.

Before proceeding to the posting, kindly note the following three points:

(1) Two of the photographs depicted below do not appear in  the original Historical Iran Blogspot article. All of the accompanying descriptions for the photographs are from Kavehfarrokh.com.

(2) At the end of the posting are photos provided by A. Parian from his article:

سنگهای شگفت انگیز – نگاهی به پرستشگاه کنگاور- ا. پریان – The Amazing Stones – An observation of the temple at Kangavar – by A. Parian (in Persian)

(3) The date of Kangavar’s construction is debated among scholars. The original consensus was that the structure had been built during the earlier Parthian era (c. 200 BCE). As noted by Mehrdad Kia (The Persian Empire: A Historical Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO-Greenwood, 2016):

The identification of the Kangavar structure as a temple of Anahita is based on a statement made by the first-century BCE author Isidore of Charax. In his short biographical account titled Parthian Stations, Isidore referred to Kangavar as Concobar and identified the city as home to a temple of Anaitis (Anahita). He did not, however, mention the exact date of the temple’s construction” (Kia, 2016, p.23).

Edward J. Keall has identified the academic challenges of pinpointing precise date(s) for the temple’s construction (Keall, E.J., Architecture: Parthian, Encyclopædia Iranica,Vol. II, Fasc. 3, New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986, pp. 327–329):

Under the Parthians any observable western influence can just as well be a survival from the Hellenistic period, which is why the monument at Kangāvar was once acceptably dated as early Parthian while recent investigations proved it to be late Sasanian” (Keall, 1986, p.328).

More recently, Warwick Ball (Rome in the East: The Transformation of an Empire, London & New York: Routledge, 2001) has stated:

Earlier studies favored a Seleucid date, with some suggesting an Achaemenid date for the platform. A date in the Parthian period has since been more generally favoured on stylistic grounds, but recent excavations found evidence for major Sassanian construction. However the colonnaded temenos is different in almost every respect to Sassanian architecture. Probably, the temple underwent numerous major reconstruction periods, with perhaps a 2nd-century AD date for the colonnaded temenos, and major Sassanian reconstruction of the sanctuary building inside” (Ball, 2001, p.332).

At this juncture, it would appear that Kangavar has witnessed various forms of construction spanning the the three major pre-Islamic eras of ancient Iran (Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian). What is certain is that Kangavar remains a critical historical site which requires more studies and excavations.

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The Anahita Temple is the name of an archaeological site in Iran popularly thought to have been attributed to the ancient deity Anahita. It is located at Kangavar in Kermanshah Province and is thought to be built by Achaemenian Emperor Ardeshir II (Artaxerxes II), 404 BC to 359 BC.

1-Kangavar-ColumnsA view of the columns at Kangavar (Source: Photographer Bahman Razei-IRNA in Payvand News). Kangavar’s remains reveal a combination of both Greek and Iranian elements. The edifice for example is Greek in style with the architecture showing Achaemenid designs.

The remains at Kangavar reveal an edifice that is Hellenistic in character, and yet display Persian architectural designs. The plinth’s enormous dimensions for example, which measure just over 200m on a side, and its megalithic foundations, which echo Achaemenid stone platforms, “constitute Persian elements”. This is thought to be corroborated by the “two lateral stairways that ascend the massive stone platform recalling Achaemenid traditions”, particularly that of the Apadana Palace at Persepolis.
The main structure of the Anahita Temple is a quadrilateral one. Its ramparts being 230 m. in length, and its thickness in most of the parts is 18 m. which reveals the archaic grandeur and magnificence of this structure. The stairway of the temple is bilateral and closely attached to the wall. The difference between the lowest and highest point of the structure is 30 m. and is in a form of steps, similar to the Achaemenian structures. At the foot of the eastern wall of the structure is a cemetery which is related to the Parthian era. It is noted that the deceased have been buried in such a way to face the Anahita structure.

2a-Kangavar stairwayStairway at Kangavar (Source: Behrah.com). There are two lateral stairways at Kangavar bearing parallels with that seen at the Apadana Palace at Persepolis.

In the nineteenth century, various Europeans investigated the ruins. Ker Porter in 1818 found them to form the foundations of a single huge platform – a rectangular terrace three hundred yards square, crowned with a colonnade. Professor Jackson in 1906 found one very well-preserved retaining wall at the northwest corner of the enclosure, probably part of the foundation of a single building; it was 12 to 15 feet high and runs north and south for more than 70 feet.

Excavation first began in 1968, by which time the large structure with its great Ionic columns set on a high stone platform had been associated with a comment by Isidore of Charax, that refers to a “temple of Artemis” (Parthian Stations 6). References to Artemis in Iran are generally interpreted to be references to Anahita, and thus Isidore’s “temple of Artemis” came to be understood as a reference to a temple of Anahita. Consequently, it has been commonly believed that the site was a “columnar temple dedicated to “Ardevisur Anahita,” the female guardian angel of waters. Some of the scholars who worked on the excavation believe it lacks the layout of a temple and must therefore be a palace.

2-Kangavar TempleA more panoramic view of the Anahita Temple at Kangavar (Source: Photographer Bahman Razei-IRNA in Payvand News). The very large dimensions for the plinth (platform for placing columns, monuments, statues, etc.) are 200 meters on a side, with stone platforms displaying Achaemenid Persian styles.

The temple was first plundered by Alexander in 335 BC, then further stripped during the reigns of Antigonus (BC 325-301) and Seleucus Nicator (BC 312-280). But when Antiochus the Great arrived at the city in 210 BC, he found columns covered with gold and silver tiles piled up in the temple, along with gold and silver bricks. From these he struck coinage amounting to about four thousand talents’ worth.
In 2005 archaeologists discovered four mines that provided the stones used in the construction of the Anahita Temple.

In an interview with the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency, Saeid Dustani (director of the Kangavar Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office) noted the following:

The mines are located in the National Garden in downtown Kangavar, Qureh-Jin and behind the Shahrak-e Vali-e Asr in the south (of the town), and Allah-Daneh district in the north. There is evidence that the mine had been utilized in ancient times. The vertical and horizontal incisions indicate that the stones had been cut for construction purposes. Even some unfinished columns and stone cubes were discovered in some of the mines”.

From the Northern Angle (photos by A. Parian)

These photos by A. Parian are of the north and northeast of the Temple, especially the wall, stairway and balcony facing the northeast.  These photos are from the following article:

سنگهای شگفت انگیز – نگاهی به پرستشگاه کنگاور- ا. پریان – The Amazing Stones – An observation of the temple at Kangavar – by A. Parian (in Persian)

Arab-Iranian Rivalry in the Persian Gulf: Territorial Disputes and the Balance of Power in the Middle East

I.B. Tauris published the following book by Dr. Farzad Cyrus Sharifi-Yazdi in 2014:

Arab-Iranian Rivalry in the Persian Gulf: Territorial Disputes and the Balance of Power in the Middle East (Library of International Relations). I.B. Tauris.

Arab-Iranian Rivalry

The overview of the text as provided in the Amazon page is as follows:

Iranian ambitions in the Persian Gulf and rivalries with Arab neighbours are subject to intense – and heated – speculation, controversy and debate. Here, Farzad Cyrus Sharifi scrutinizes the rival Arab-Iranian claims to Bahrain, the Shatt al-Arab waterway, and the Abu Musa and Tunbs islands in the years after World War II and before the Iranian revolution. Through investigation of previously unexamined primary materials and interviews with leading players, this book sheds new light on the evolution and dynamics of hegemonic and nationalistic Arab-Iranian rivalries and how these rivalries began to find symbolic expression through territorial disputes. Sharifi illustrates that these ongoing disputes – and the deep-seated tensions still prevalent in Arab-Iranian relations – are largely rooted in how they were constructed in the post-World War II period, making this book vital reading for researchers of the politics, history, international relations and diplomacy of the Middle East.”

Below are documents posted by the محکستان– [Mahakestan] website providing documentation of Arab leaders acknowledging Iran’s historical claims to the three Islands of the Persian Gulf (dated to 1850). These documents/pages are posted below (click on each to Enlarge):

1-PG-Islands-1850 2-PG-Islands-1850 3-PG-Islands-1850

[Click on each Page above to Enlarge] Statements made by Arabian Sheikhs of the Persian Gulf attesting to Iran’s historical claims to the three Persian Gulf Islands (Source:  محکستان– [Mahakestan]).

map-of-persian-gulf-published-by-saudi-arabia-1952Saudi Arabian Map of 1952 displaying the correct name for the Persian Gulf.

Below is a document (originally appeared in the Iraqi Al_Jewar website) forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com which shows that the late pan-Arabist, Jamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970), referred to the Persian Gulf by its correct name on August 30, 1951:

Telegram-Nasser-PGNote by written  by the late President of Egypt, Jamal Abdul Nasser (1918-1970) – this was transmitted by Egypt’s Cable and Wireless Company Limited on August 30, 1951.

Darius I Stele Discovered in Southern Russia

The report below (originally released by Russia’s TASS News agency) was provided by the Russia beyond the Headlines (RBTH) news outlet on August 5, 2016 originally titled “Darius I stele found in southern Russia may become world sensation. Kindly note that a number of images and their accompanying captions do not appear in the original report.

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Archeologists doing excavations in the area of the antique town of Phanagoria in the Temryuk district of Russia’s southern Krasnodar Territory have discovered fragments of a marble stele carrying an inscription of the ancient Persian King Darius I, the press service of the Volnoye Delo foundation said in a press release on Aug. 5.

1-Darius stele in Southern Russia

The stele of Darius I being excavated by Russian archealogists in southern Russia (Image Source: RBTH & Press Photo).

The find has good chances of becoming a world sensation, said the foundation, which is run by businessman Oleg Deripaska. According to the press release:

The decoded inscriptions state someone made them in the name of the Persian King Darius I … The stele has an inscription in the ancient Persian language. The approximate assessment dates the find to the first half of the 5th century B.C.

Apart from the stele, the archeologists have found in the acropolis the remainders of ancient fortress walls, which in itself is an important even in classical archeology, the foundation said.

4- Darius-Parsa

The relief of Darius the Great (reigned 522-486 BCE) at Persepolis (Source: درفش کاویانی in Public Domain).

The stele was found in the seams that can be attributed to the 5th century B.C. The text contains a word unregistered before and roughly interpreted as the place name Miletus, one of the biggest cities in Ionia, a region known as Asia Minor now. As noted in the press release:

Miletus stood at the head of the so-called Ionian uprising of Greek city states against Darius I … It was suppressed in 494 B.C. Researchers believe the king put up a marble stele in the city after his victory over the Greeks. The monument had a text on it – for instance, reporting on the king’s triumph.”

Later on, a fragment of the overturned and broken stele got to Phanagoria – quite possibly, as ballast on a ship that called into the Phanagoria port, since there is no natural stone of the kind on the Taman peninsula.

At present, the stele is undergoing scrutiny at the restoration laboratory of the Phanagoria Research and Cultural Center.

4-Khayyam-Astrakhan-Russia-Tass

Modern Russia (and much of Eastern Europe) often acknowledge the cultural legacy of ancient  Iran – above is the first monument in Russia dedicated to the Persian poet Omar Khayyam (1048-1131), unveiled in Astrakhan (Source: RBTH & Dmitry Rogulin/TASS); for more information consult RBTH report “Russia’s first statue of Persian poet Omar Khayyam unveiled in Astrakhan“.

Darius I (b. 550, d. 486 B.C.), a Persian ruler from the Achaemenian dynasty considerably expanded the territory of his country with the aid of wars against the Getae, Thrace, Lemnos, Imbros, and Macedonia. He was buried in the mausoleum built on the cliffs at Naqsh-e Rustam near Persepolis on his order and decorated with sculptures.

5-Tomb of darius-Naqshe Rustam

Darius the Great’s tomb at Nagshe Rustam in southwest Iran (Source: درفش کاویانی  in Public Domain).

Clothing Styles of Women in Ancient Iran

Below are creations of the dresses of the ancient women of Iran from the Median, Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanian eras. The four reconstructions depicted here were made during the early 1970s and are posted in the Iran Matlab website article entitled “مدل لباس زنان در ایران باستان [Clothing of Women in Ancient Iran]”.

Iran Women-Dress-1-MedesMede era (c. 615-549 BCE) dress reconstruction based on the silver box discovered with the Oxus Treasure now housed at the British Museum (Source: Iran Matlab).

Iran Women-Dress-2a-AchaemenidReconstruction of  noblewoman based on the Achaemenid era (550-330 BCE) tapestry from Pazyryk housed at the Hermitage Museum at St. Petersburg (Source: Iran Matlab).

Iran Women-Dress-3-ParthianParthian era (c.247 BCE – 224 CE) dress from Hatra, based on the figurine housed at the Baghdad Museum (Source: Iran Matlab).

Iran Women-Dress-4-SassanianIranian queen from the Sassanian era (224-651 CE) based on  the silver plate housed at the Walter Art Gallery in Baltimore (Source: Iran Matlab).