The Castle-Citadel of Zahak

The Zahak Castle is located in Hashtrud, within Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province. The name Zahak or Zahhak is derived from ancient Iranian mythology (possibly from Azhi Dahak).

Zahak Castle-Multi ViewThe Zahak castle in Azarbaijan province in northwest Iran. Note pattern of brick works, archways and stairway. The origins of the site has been dated as far back as 2000 BCE, during the reign of the Parthian dynasty (c. 250 BCE-224 CE) (Photo sources: Images forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Ms. Tara Farhid-Gallo in the article –گردایه (مجموعه) باستانی آژدهاک ( ضحاک ) آذرآبادگان– and in Darvakeran Blogspot).

Experts share a general consensus that this region was inhabited from the second millennium BCE until the Timurid era (1370-1507).

Zahhak_castle_stucco_1[Click to Enlarge] Stucco from the Zahak castle housed in the antiquities museum in Azarbaijan. The above depicts a large bird of prey digging its claws onto the back of a bull. There are striking parallels between this stucco and the depictions of the sacred bull in ancient Mithraic temples. Interestingly the depiction of the bull (especially its lifted and exposed neck) is strikingly similar to the image of Mithras slaying the bull in Romano-European Mithraism (Photo sources: Images forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Ms. Tara Farhid-Gallo in the article –گردایه (مجموعه) باستانی آژدهاک ( ضحاک ) آذرآبادگان– and in Darvakeran Blogspot).

The site was first excavated by British archeologists in the 19th century. Iran’s Cultural Heritage Organization has been researching the structure in a methodical six-phase study.

 

Zahak Castle-ExcavationsImages of excavation works at the Zahak site in Azarbaijan province (Photo sources: Images forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Ms. Tara Farhid-Gallo in the article –گردایه (مجموعه) باستانی آژدهاک ( ضحاک ) آذرآبادگان– and in Darvakeran Blogspot).

The site has also yielded a very rare visual glimpse of what the Mede infantry of the Parthian era may have appeared during the invasion of Marc Antony in 37 BCE. Marc Antony was defeated, in large part due to the actions of the local Median infantry who supported the Parthian armored cavalry and horse archers.

Parthian Stucco-Zahhak[Click to Enlarge] Another stucco discovered at the Zahak site, now housed in the Museum of Azarbaijan in Iran. The image depicts a Mede infantryman of the Parthian era. It was Mede infantry such as these who defeated the invading troops of Roman general Marc Antony in 37 BCE (Photo sources: Images forwarded to Kavehfarrokh.com by Ms. Tara Farhid-Gallo in the article –گردایه (مجموعه) باستانی آژدهاک ( ضحاک ) آذرآبادگان– and in Darvakeran Blogspot).

There have also been interesting discoveries of stucco from the site, with some traces of coloring still visible.

Zahak Castle-Stucco[Click to Enlarge] Display of artifacts discovered at the Zahhak castle, at the Azarbaijan Museum in Tabriz. Note that the left petal-type stucco still has visible traces of red and yellow color with the right facial-flower stucco still bearing traces of yellow upon it (Picture Source: Public Domain).

 Zahak Castle-4-Sign

 Signage in Azarbaijan province in Iran at the Zahak site (Picture Source: in Darvakeran Blogspot).