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Mount Khwajeh , the Biggest Unbaked Mud Structure from Parthian Times


 03 November 2005




  (Click to enlarge)

Kuh-e Khwajeh (kūh-e khwājé or Khājeé) Mountain Complex, the biggest model of unbaked mud architecture remaining in Sistan region. This structure is one of the most remarkable relics from the Parthian eras. Kuh-e Khwajeh in ancient time was known as Kuh-i Ushidar.


It is the only natural height left behind in Sistan area, where a palace, fire temple, pilgrimage centre and graveyard of Suren-Pahlav Clan reminiscent of the past are still in good condition.


The trapezoid-shaped basalt lava, situated 609 meters from the sea level, with a diameter ranging from two to 2.5 kilometres stands 17kms to the southwest of Zābol in the middle of Hamun Khwajeh Lake. The complex was identified as Parthian for the first time by a British archaeologist in 1916.


Later, an Italian archaeologist conducted excavation at the site from 1925-1929. The result of his excavation was later listed in a book dubbed "Sagestan", which was about the eastern Iran in ancient time and the history of its archaeology.


Meanwhile, another Italian archaeologist and architecture conducted limited excavations at Khwajeh Mountain some 40 years ago and published his findings in a book named "Iran's Architecture and Khwajeh Mountain Monuments".


Besides, 11 monuments were unearthed at the site by the former provincial Cultural Heritage Department in 1991 and the relevant maps were drawn.


The architectural decorations used in some of the castles of the complex are similar to the Greek architecture, including vaulted capitals of columns made in Doric style and small flowers such as nīlūfar (lotus) used in Achaemenid dynastic art, while some of the elements look like Mesopotamian art.


Khwajeh Mountain Complex is greatly respected by followers of the three ancient faiths of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam and taken as a holy centre.


The mountain has been named after the mausoleum of Khwajeh Mehdi, one of the sympathizers of Alavi rulers, which is situated on this mountain.


Since Islamic invasion of Iran in 7th century, it is also called several other names such as Nūr, Mo'ūd and Bāteni.


Sistan, known as the birthplace of Iranian hero Rostam, has very strong associations with Zoroastrianism. In fact, according to Zoroastrian mythology, Lake Hamun was the keeper of Zoroaster's seed. And when the world's end is at hand, three maidens will enter the lake, and afterwards will give birth to the Saoshiants who will then be the "final saviours" of mankind.


To the Christians, the significance of the complex is related to the belief that upon Christ's birth at the Lord's house three Magi standing on this mountain and watching the light emanating from this divine prophet acknowledged their faith in Jesus.


Khwajeh Mehdi's mausoleum, the graveyard dating back to the Islamic era and the windless chamber at Khwajeh mountain render the entire monument sacred to all Muslims, so that it is visited by pilgrims during religious and national festivals as well as holidays.


"Kohan-Dež" and "Kāfarān Castle" marking the great Arsacid and Sassanid dynastic civilization are among the most important remains from the past historical eras.


The mural painting of three clergies or kings, the painting of the God of Victory seen on a horse, the image of king, queen and Parthian dignitaries are some of the remaining art objects marking the great civilization of Iran.


In the course of excavations conducted at Mount Khwajeh and the relevant castles, a number of 40-meter-high walls made of unbaked mud bricks and dating back to 1,000 years ago have been unearthed.


The city of Zabol in Sistan area with a 400,000 population is located to the southeast of the provincial capital of Zāhedān.



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