digs in Iranian province of Margiana (what is
today known as Turkmenistan) are unearthing an
extensive archaeological complex that was once a
flourishing artistic and political center for the
ancient Iranian civilization under the Parthian
latest round of digs has revealed invaluable
detail about a fortified complex, located 18km
southwest of the modern city of Ashkhabad, near
the border of Iran, according to the excavation
director, Antonio Invernizzi of Turin University.
believe that Mehrdad-Gerd (Old Nisa), one of the
Parthian Empire's earliest capitals, was founded
in the 2nd century BC.
was renamed Mithradatkirt, or fortress of
Mithradates, after king of kings Mithradat the
Great (171-138 BC). The Emperor Mithradat (Mehrdâd
in modern Persian) turned Iran into a most
powerful empire in world, the Ancient Rome's
explained that the complex expanded out from an
original cluster of buildings protected by walled
fortifications after Mithradates liberating Iran
and Mesopotamia from Macedonian invasion.
far, he said, perfectly conserved walls of six to
eight meters high had been uncovered, with the
original decoration still distinguishable.
buildings, Mithraic mausoleums and shrines,
inscribed documents and a looted treasury have
also come to light.
finds include various artworks, marble statues,
fragments of massive clay monuments -- including a
depiction of Mithradates the Great -- and around
40 ivory drinking horns, the outer rims of which
decorated with people or classical mythological
archaeologists started excavating Mehrdad-Gerd or
Old Nisa -- which was totally destroyed by an
earthquake in the first decade BC -- in 1990,
picking up where earlier digs by the Russians had
left off in the 1950s.
Parthian Empire was the most powerful force on the
Iranian plateau from the 3rd century BC onwards,
intermittently controlling Mesopotamia between 190
BC to 224 AD until its fall to Sasanian dynasty..
an Iranian tribe of nomads, the Parni people rose
to power under Mithradates. At one point, its
empire occupied all of modern Iran, Iraq and
Armenia, parts of Turkey, Georgia, Arran (republic
of Azerbaijan), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and
Tajikistan. It also briefly held territories in
Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine.