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Shards Bearing Garduneh-e Mehr (Swastika) Motif Found at Elamite site in Khuzestan


12 July 2005



The discovery of a number of shards bearing a swastika motif by a team of Iranian archaeologists working at Sabz Tepe in the Elamite site of Arjan, Khuzestan Province, the director of the team said on Tuesday.


“Our team found the shards during operations conducted to save the site from being destroyed by farming activities,” Mahnaz Sharifi added.


Located 10 kilometers north of Behbahan in eastern Khuzestan Province, Arjan contains many ancient mounds which are believed to be various sections of an Elamite city.


“Farmers plow the ground in Arjan, destroying the ancient site. A cluster of shards bearing unique motifs and inscriptions can be seen scattered on the ground,” Behbahan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office expert Farzad Mesbah said. Agricultural officials of Behbahan gave the land to the farmers.


“The farmers have said that they will continue working on the land, but Khuzestan cultural officials have filed a lawsuit against the farmers, in an attempt to solve the problem through the judicial process,” said Saeid Mohammadpur, an official of the Khuzestan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department.


In 1983, the first bronze coffin ever found in Iran, was discovered in Arjan. The U-shaped coffin contained a large inscribed golden ring, 98 bracteate coins, a dagger, some textile fragments, and a silver rod, which came from the treasury of the Elamite king Kidin-Hutran.


Archaeologists plan to conduct additional research on the newly discovered shards in order to learn why the swastika motif was used.


For thousands of years, it has been used in ancient Iranian culture as a symbol of the revolving sun (Garduneh-e Khorshid),  Mithra's Wheel (Garduneh-e Mehr), fire, infinity, or continuing recreation. The oldest representation of this motif was found in Khuzestan province in 1020s, dated back to 5000 BC. 


The swastika has also been important in Eastern religions; to Buddhists, it represents resignation; to Jains, it represents their seventh saint; and to Hindus, a swastika with arms bent to the left represents night, magic, and the destructive goddess Kali.Also the motif were used as a decorative motif in the Americas, China, Egypt, Greece, and Scandinavia. Swastikas have been found in the catacombs of Rome, on textiles of the Inca period, and on relics unearthed at the site of Troy. 


In the mid-20th century in Germany, a swastika with arms bent to the right became the symbol of the Nazi Party. Some members of the German Free Corps, who later formed the nucleus of the early Nazi Party, are believed to have brought the swastika to Germany from Finland and Estonia, where it had been an official and decorative emblem.


From March 1933, a few weeks after the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, the swastika flag flew side by side with the German national colors. From September 1935 until the downfall of the Nazi regime in 1945, the swastika flag was the official flag of the Third Reich and was prominently displayed. The swastika is still used as a symbol by supremacist and separatist hate groups.  


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