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Natural Cave or Hercules Temple?


News Category:

Pre-Islamic & Islamic Periods

 11 February 2004



The Karaftu cave is considered one of Iran’s natural marvels. Located near the town of Divandarreh in the province of western Kurdestan, it is a natural lime covered cave.

Studies show in the Mesozoic era, the cave was under water and it started to surface late in the era. It was used by man in different eras who tailored to suit their needs. Karaftu is dug into the mountain, built with rock architecture in four storeys.

Many Orientalists such as de Morgan, Rawlinson, etc. visited the cave and drew its plan. There is a tablet written in Greek above the portal of a room in the third floor. That’s why it has been mentioned as the Hercules temple. The tablet reads: “therein resides Hercules and no evil can penetrate it.”

The Karaftu cave is 750 meters in length with a large number of subways. The existence of man in the cave means that it was subject to manipulations, with many rooms and hallways cut into the mountain.

There are abstract paintings of animals, humans and plants which are mostly of a ritualistic nature.

In 2000, boring pits were dug in the cave as the archaeological studies revealed remains from various era which indicated that man inhabited it in the pre-historic era.

In addition, pottery pieces and relics found in the cave suggest it was inhabited in the Arsacid, Sasanid and Islamic eras.

Over the last few years, the local cultural heritage department has made modifications in the cave to prepare it to receive visitors. An archaeological research center has also been set up in its vicinity.



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