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CAIS ARCHAEOLOGICAL & CULTURAL NEWS©

 

Stone Quarry Used to Construct Anahita Temple Discovered

 

20 August 2005

 

Archaeologists recently discovered four mines that provided the stones used in the construction of the Anahita Temple, the ruins of which are located in the city of Kangavar in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah.

 

“The mines are located in the National Garden in downtown Kangavar, Qureh-Jin and behind the Shahrak-e Vali-e Asr in the south (of the town), and Allah-Daneh district in the north,” the director of the Kangavar Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office told the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency on Friday.

 

“There is evidence that the mine had been utilized in ancient times. The vertical and horizontal incisions indicate that the stones had been cut for construction purposes. Even some unfinished columns and stone cubes were discovered in some of the mines,” Saeid Dustani added.

 

Archaeologists had previously discovered the Chehel Maran, Soltanababad, and Helal-e Ahmar stone mines in the region, which they believe also provided stones for the construction of the temple.

 

“Last year, a mason began using the stones of the mines for restoration of the temple, but the project was halted. There are many stones at the site of the temple and we do not need to exploit the mines for the renovation of the temple. Our office plans to register the mines on Iran’s National Heritage List in order to safeguard them. At the present time, the mine located in the National Garden is threatened by construction projects. It is difficult to demarcate the mine due to the projects,” he explained.

 

Kangavar is a small town lying halfway between Hamedan and Kermanshah. In about 200 BC, during the Seleucid Greek occupation of Kangavar, a major sanctuary was built to the mother goddess Anahita -- who was worshipped in ancient Persia along with Ahura Mazda and Mithras. This vast temple was built of enormous blocks of dressed stone with an imposing entrance of opposed staircases which may have been inspired by the Apadana at Persepolis.

 

The Anahita Temple is very impressive from an architectural perspective.

 

Anahita (or Nahid in modern Persian), ancient Iranian Goddess, whose name means "unstained" or "immaculate", was an ancient Persian deity who seems to have been worshipped by the Medes and Persians before they adopted Zoroastrianism.

 

One of the early references to such a temple is by the Greek geographer Isidore of Charax who reports that in Parthian territory, Ecbatana, the greatest metropolis of Media, retained a temple of Anahita where sacrifices were regularly offered. At Concobar (Kangavar) in lower Media, a temple of Artemis built about 200 BC, was standing when Isidore of Charax wrote, and some vestiges of this Greek-style edifice survive today.

 

Among the very few carvings of Anahita, one can refer to a rock carving at Naqsh-e Rustam where the chief minister of Sasanid king of kings Yazdegerd's last years Mihr-Naresh is shown receiving investiture from the hands of Anahita, who wears a serrated crown and a sleeveless cloak.

 

The temple was discovered in 1969 when workers were removing the rubble of a building demolished in a construction project at the site.  

 

 

 

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