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Azar-Farigh, the Forgotten Fire-Temple of Ardabil on the Verge of Destruction


23 August 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- The forgotten fire temple of Azar-Farigh, one of the oldest Zoroastrian fire temples in the north-western Iranian province of Ardabil (Ardebil) is on the verge of destruction, according to ISNA Persian Service.


The fire temple located in the village of Atashgah (Ātašgāh, also known as Āgh-Mān) is one of the environs of Sabalan County, 5km from Sar’ein. Atashgah village is one the most ancient locations in Sar’ein County as well as the Ardabil Province, which holds numerous historical monuments from various phases throughout Iranian history.


Azar-Farigh is located at the top of a hill overlooking the village, representing its glorious past, and is evidence of a prosperous community which once surrounded it in ancient times. The stupendous fire-temple is being left unprotected at the mercy of inhospitable weather and modern construction programmes, which is gradually sending her way to total annihilation.


"Even though after the 1997 earthquake, ICHTO prohibited any construction in the vicinity or over the hill where the temple remains are located, has left the temple facing uncertainty about its' future, due to the lack of planning by the authorities for the historical monuments in the area", according to the locals. 

During the rescue operation in search for survivors of the earthquake a large number of ancient terracotta-pipes were dug out. The discovered pipes were part of a water distribution system covering a vast area, beyond the modern boundaries of the Atashgah village, which establishes the importance of the area during the ancient times, and confirms that a prosperous community once lived there.


According to historical accounts the fire Temple was constructed during the Sasanian dynastic era (224-651 CE). The temple believed to be part of a large religious-centre and templar-complex, which no architectural evidence has survived. During the reign of Khosrow I, Anōshag-ruwān (the immortal soul – r. 531-579 CE), Azarbaijan province was the centre of the North of the vast Sasanian Empire, and the ancient Artavilla (artāvillā / artāvīd- modern Ardabil) was its' provincial capital.


Today most of the Ardabil’ fire temples have been destroyed, or converted into Islamic shrines and mosques, and even their ancient names has been changed from Persian to alien names, due to the Turkification (from linguist aspect) of the region by the Ilkhanids (1256-1352) and choosing Maragheh as their capital.


A recent study of the genetic landscape of Iran was completed by a team of Cambridge geneticists led by Dr. Maziar Ashrafian Bonab (an Iranian Azarbaijani)[1]. Bonab remarked that his group had done extensive DNA testing on different language groups, including Indo-European and non Indo-European speakers, in Iran. The study found that the Azerbaijanis of Iran do not have a similar FSt and other genetic markers found in Anatolian Turks. However, the genetic Fst and other genetic traits like MRca and mtDNA of Iranian Azeris were identical to Persians and the rest of the Iranian race.[2]


[1] "Maziar Ashrafian Bonab"Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge

[2] "Cambridge Genetic Study of Iran"ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency), 12 June 2006, news-code: 8503-06068






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