The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
ANCIENT IRANIAN SITES: PRE-HISTORY
also Sialk, is a large ancient structure in Kashan, Iran. It is believed
to contain the world's oldest ziggurat,
dating to the 3rd millennium BCE, tucked away in the suburbs of the city of
Kashan, in Esfahan Province. The culture that inhabited this area has been
linked to the Zayandeh Rud Civilization.
remains of this 5000-year-old ziggurat is not in a favourable condition like
many other ancient ruins in Iran.
At the site, there are actually two structures at Siyalk situated several
hundred feet from each other. The three platforms of the larger ziggurat however
still remain in place. Not much remains of the smaller structure. The Louvre
Museum has also excavated a cemetery near the structures that have been dated as
far back as 7500 years.
is one of four ziggurats built by the Elamites. The other three are Chogha
Zanbil (1250 BCE), Susa ziggurat (1800 BCE), and Haft Teppeh (1375 BCE), all in
Khuzestan Province. Siyalk is the 32nd and most recent ziggurat of Mesopotamia
to be discovered.
Siyalk was first excavated by a team of European archaeologists headed by Roman
Ghirshman in the1930s. His extensive studies were followed by D. E. McCown,
Yousef Majidzadeh, P. Amieh, until 1970s, and recently reviewed by Iran's
Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (ICHTO) in 2002 headed by Sadeq
Shahmirzadi Malek. But like the thousands of other Iranian historical sites, the
treasures of Silak eventually found their way to museums such as the Louvre, the
British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and private
Siyalk ziggurat has 3 platforms, and although the ziggurat itself was built in
2900 BCE which predates Urnamu's Ziggurat at Ur, dated to 2100 BCE. However, the
earliest archaeological remains of the northern mound date back to the middle of
the 6000 BCE.
Siyalk, and the entire area around it, is thought to have first originated as a result of the pristine large water sources nearby that still run today. The Cheshme-ye Soleimān (Solomon's Spring) has been bringing water to this area from nearby mountains for thousands of years. The Fin garden, built to its present form in the 1600s is a popular tourist attraction today. It is here where Persian Kings of the Safavid dynasty would spend their vacations away from their capital cities. It is also houses mausoleum of Pirūzān (Firūzān), known to Islamic and Arab sources as Abu Lu Lu, an Iranian patriot who assassinated the second Muslim Caliph Umar ibn al-Khatab in 644 CE in retaliation for treatment of Iranians by occupying Muslim forces. All these remains are located in the same location where the ancient Siyalk lies.
What little is left of the two crumbling Siyalk ziggurats is now threatened by the encroaching suburbs of the expanding city of Kashan. It is not uncommon to see kids playing soccer amid the ruins, while only several meters away lie the supposedly "off limit" 5,500 year old skeletons unearthed at the foot of the ziggurat.
CAIS, Connection of Zayandeh Rud Civilization with Marvdasht and Siyalk,
August 30, 2005.
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