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Parthian Subterranean Village Discovered Near Maragheh


01 January 2005



Iranian archaeologists have discovered a subterranean Parthian era village near the Mehr (mithra) Temple of the northwestern city of Maragheh, the director of the Maragheh Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department said on Wednesday.


“Since the Mehr Temple is one of the little known sites of Iran, our team planned to carry out some excavations around it to ascertain some details about the temple. The excavations resulted in the discovery of an underground village which archaeologists believe dates back to the Parthian era,” Nasser Zavvari added.


The Mehr Temple, which was constructed in the Parthian era (247 B.C.–224 C.E.), is located 65 kilometers from the city of Maragheh in East Azarbaijan Province. It was one of the main temples of the religion of Mithraism in ancient Iran.


The village is located at a depth of one meter below ground level and some holes were used as entrances into the underground community, he said.


“A number of houses of the village of Varju’i are located above the underground village. We plan to buy the houses to protect the area for additional studies,” Zavvari said.


Several months ago, archaeologists announced they had discovered a three-story underground shelter from the Sasanid era in southern Isfahan Province. Their initial study indicated that the shelter was built for military purposes and could hide about 50 people.


The underground shelter has seven halls as well as three large and two small rooms. Each floor was linked to the other through several holes and a staircase leads to the main entrance of the shelter.

Archaeologists have determined that earthenware discovered inside the shelter dates back to the Sasanid era (226-651 C.E.).


In addition, a team of archaeologists has recently unearthed another underground city near Nushabad, Isfahan Province.


Experts believe study of the newly discovered ancient subterranean communities can provide valuable information about the architecture of ancient Iran. Thus, a new field of study called subterranean or hand-dug architecture has been established.




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