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CAIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL & CULTURAL NEWS©

 

Parthian Castle discovered in Atropatene region

 

21 April 2005

 

 

Phraaspa, an ancient castle of the Parthian province of Atropatene, was discovered during the archaeological studies near Zahhak Castle in Hashtrud, in Iran’s northwestern province of East Azarbaijan.

 

“Due to the historical documents indicating that Phraaspa was located somewhere in Azarbaijan, our team began studying some areas around Zahhak Castle, which dates back to the Parthian dynasty.

 

After finding more than 20 habitation sites and eight barbicans from the Parthian period, we were certain we had discovered the ancient castle,” said Mohammad Feizkhah, an expert of the Cultural and Tourism Department.

 

Alexander occupied province of Media in the summer of 330 BC. In 328 he appointed Atropates, a former Persian general of Darius III, as satrap. In the partition of his newly conquered empire, southern province of Media was given to the Macedonian Peithon; but the north, which lay far off and was of little importance for the generals who fought for the inheritance of Alexander, was left to Atropates.

 

While southern Media with Ecbatana passed to the rule of Antigonus, and afterwards to Seleucus I, Atropates maintained himself in his satrapy and succeeded in founding an independent kingdom.

Thus the partition of the country, which the Persians had introduced, became lasting; the north was named Atropatene, after its governor, a name which is preserved in modern Azarbaijan.

 

The provincial capital was Gazaca in the central plain, and the strong castle of the city was Phraaspa, which was believed to be identical with the great ruin Takht-e Suleiman, with remains of Sasanid fire temples and of a later palace.

 

A number of archaeologists also previously believed that Phraaspa was located in the region around Bakhtak Castle in southern East Azerbaijan Province. "Since there are no defensive structures and wide plains near Bakhtak Castle, we can not say that Phraaspa was located in the surrounding area,” Feizkhah argued.

 

“The newly discovered sites are scattered over wide areas. In addition, archaeologists have previously discovered many religious monuments and artifacts dating back to the Parthian era near Zahhak Castle,” he said in conclusion.

 

 

 

 

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