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Discovery of the Remains of an Ancient Mihrab in Gur City


News Category: Sasanian Dynasty (224-651 CE)

 12 December 2005



Archaeological excavations in the historical city of Gur resulted in the discovery of the remains of a mihrab (an altar) belonging to the Sassanid dynastic era.

Historical city of Gur, located near Firuz Abad in Fars province, is the first circle-shaped city of Iran, which was established during the third century A.D. by the order of Emperor Ardeshir Babakan, the founder of Sassanid dynasty, and was one of the most important cities during that period.

Recently, archaeological excavations in this historical site have been started under the supervision of Professor Dietrich, a German archeologist.

“Archaeological excavations are carried out in three areas, including a minaret area, the seat, and the shell keep of the city, which have resulted in some new archaeological discoveries in this respect,” said Leila Niakan, deputy of the archaeologists’ excavation team of Gur city.

According to Niakan, the recent archaeological excavations in the historical “seat area” of Gur led to the finding of the remains of a mihrab belonging to the early Islamic time in Iran.

“There are different ideas about the usage of the ‘seat area’ during the Sassanid era. Some believe that this place was a castle, others say it was being used as a fire temple. The discovery of the remains of this mihrab will also reveal the usage of the seat area,” explained Niakan.

This mihrab, which is one of the most ancient Islamic mihrabs discovered in Iran so far, was built facing Mecca, a city in Arabia, and was used in order to show the place and direction of worship. Mihrab is an Arabic derivative word of Persian Mehrab, i.e. Mithraeum, which has especial place in pre-Islamic Iranian art and architecture. 


It seems that Muslim invaders have incorporated Mihrab into Islamic faith and Mosque architecture after invasion of Iran in AD 7th century.

After Muslim’s invasion of Iran, many of Zoroastrian fire temples converted to mosques and were not used for other purposes besides worship. The discovery of the remains of this mihrab dating back to the beginning of the Islamic period in the historical site of Gur suggests that the place might have been a holy fire temple which was changed to a place of worship for the invaders.

At the present, some parts of the historical city of Gur are under ploughing by the local farmers and nothing has been done to prevent this cultural devastation. Recently a base of a pillar and a staircase also unearthed when the farmers were ploughing the land, which indicates the important of the site.


Source: CHN




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