Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
& ARCHAEOLOGY: SASANIAN DYNASTY
Sasanian Fire-Temple Complex
Soroor Ghanimati (a photo essay of "Sasanian Bandiân" and Iran's
Cultural Heritage Organisation (CHO)
1994, when the archaeological importance of Bandian was realized, the
first excavations were carried out to reveal precious remains of art and
architecture of the pre-Islamic Iran, dating from the Sasanian period
at the site, near the town of Daregaz, 1150 km northeast of Tehran near
the Turkmenistan border, were a stucco-decorated hall with columns,
Sasanian Pahlavi inscriptions, and at last the some remains of brick
architecture, which are considered to be one of the most invaluable finds
of that period.
the excavations led by the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization's
archaeologist, Mehdi Rahbar, yielded a Zoroastrian temple, with a
substantial amount of its decoration and design features intact. Although
the upper parts of the stucco reliefs were not preserved, nevertheless a
good deal had remained in place (info from Bandian of Daregaz).
photographs were taken by Soroor Ghanimati in 1998. Ghanimati is a
Research Fellow at UC Berkeley's Department of Near Eastern Studies and a
Deputy of UNESCO's World Heritage Organization.
Background and Geographical Position of the Site:
town of Daregaz is situated 1150 km from Tehran and 255 km from the center
of Khorasan province. It is bound by Turkmenistan from the north, Mashhad
from the east and southeast, Chanaran from the south, and Qoochan from the
west. The town's geographical co-ordinates are 37°361 N and 59°6' E. The
center of Daregaz township is Daregaz, which was previously known as
Mohammadabad, an area which can doubtless be placed among the most ancient
centers of Iranian culture. Excavations in this mountainous site have
revealed artifacts dating back as far as the Parthian and Sasanian
periods, and pre-historic times.Numerous mounds and other ancient sites
have also yielded much evidence of the site's rich historical and cultural
inheritance. Throughout its history, the site has been known by a variety
of names: Dara, Daragyard, Pavart in pre-Islamic Persia, and Bavard,
Abivard after the Islamic expansion. With its rich bazaar and access to
fertile lands, the city was considerably more prosperous than neighboring
Nesa and was widely known as one of the largest and most affluent cities
of the Big Khorasan area.
its ideal location on the northern foothills of the Khorasan mountains, it
was the first defense zone to sight an approaching enemy and was a vitally
important political and military center. It also played an important role
as a significant economic center on the Silk Road.
The historic area of Bandiyan covers almost 1.000 sq- m. and can be
divided into three main parts:
remains of the Sasanid temple (excavated some years ago)
Tepe (yet to be excavated)
mound (presently being excavated).
History of Archaeological Excavations in the Region:
During six seasons of the site's excavations, the building's central part
was found; its main hall, measuring 10.25x8.45 m, as well as several rooms
and corridors were unearthed. The hall had four lime columns that
supported the straight ceiling of the building. The columns' strengthening
system is quite interesting. Another remarkable feature of the building is
its mihrab (arched niche) in about 2.80x1.70 m.
the south from mihrab a small room 2.5x3 m was dug.
preliminary analysis of the collected artifacts indicate that the room
could have functioned as a place for storage
of received mail and gifts .This interpretation is strengthened by the
discovery of several stamps with imprinted patterns, among them a deer, a
griffin, a person's bust with a word "Roozbeh" on his both
However, the implemented fieldwork did not provide sufficient evidence. It
implies that during the building's destruction the precious items were
removed to another place or simply sacked.
Behind the mentioned room, found close to the mihrah, another room
measuring about 5.20x4.80 m was also unearthed.
Near the walls, stretching from the north east and westwards, three arched
lime one-piece "false coffins" were found. They used to keep the
dead 's bones and were decorated by simple engraved miniatures, all based
on the mythological material. Moreover, in the end of the western
passageway, running from the hall, a room, which served as a Zoroastrian
burial place, as well as a round tower were discovered. This tower was
Unfortunately, the discovered building had been cruelly destroyed
(eventually by the-enemy) and shortly afterwards another brick edifice was
erected on its ruins. In 1994 (1373 AH), when the archaeological
importance of the site was scientifically proved, the first excavations
were carried out to reveal precious samples of the Sasanid architecture.
Among them there were a stucco-decorated hall with columns, Sasanian
Pahlavi Inscriptions ,and at last the remains of brick architecture, which
are considered one of the most invaluable finds of that period. Moreover,
for the first time the excavations yielded the Zoroastrian temple, all the
decoration and design features of which were preserved. Although the upper
parts of the stucco molding were destroyed, nevertheless its several parts
remained intact. Wall engravings depicting various scenes were found; they
are from left to right as follows:
scene depicting the results of this war (immediately after the
scene depicting a hall divided in two parts by a curtain; beside this
there is a woman in long dress pouring water from a jug
persons, all in frames decorated with artichoke's leafs (inside the
standing persons attired in special clothes (along the northern wall)
extensively damaged scene with vague pattern (immediately after the
The fire-place of the temple is really impressing. It has got a stage
basement and a lavishly decorated main structure
regard to the found inscriptions in the Middle Persian, stucco moldings
and engravings & several historical scenes , the Mid-Sasanid period is
recommended for this ancient site.
is the Light on the Path to Future"
British Institute of Persian Studies