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Sasanian Bas-reliefs of Mt. Khajeh Fortress Falling Apart


11 December 2006




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  Sasanian horse rider at Kuh-e Khwajeh (Click to enlarge)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- Bas-reliefs depicting three Sasanian horse-riders inscribed on one of the walls of the Parthian fortress of the Mount Ushidar (modern kuh-e Khwājé) are being destroyed as a result of lack of attention.


The reliefs were carved during Sasanian dynastic period (224–651 CE) after Sasanian soldiers conquered the fortress which had been constructed on Mt. Khajeh during the Parthian dynastic Empire (248 BCE–224 CE). The Mountain is located in Sistan va Baluchestan province, southeast Iran.


“When Mt. Khajeh was overtaken by the Sasanians, bas-reliefs of three Sasanian horse riders were carved on one of the walls of the fortress which is entirely made of adobe. The reliefs are the only ones made of clay remained from the Sasanian dynastic period. They are now falling apart due to lack of attention,” explained Ali-Reza Khosravi, director of Burnt City Research Centre.


The scale of destruction is so enormous that only by concentrating on the bas-reliefs and connecting the remaining relief lines can one detect the original image. This has also made restoration of these Sasanian bas-reliefs a challenging task.


“What has remained of the Sasanian bas-reliefs of Mt. Khajeh is extremely vulnerable and will be completely washed off by heavy rains. If the province had not experienced drought in the past few years, nothing would have remained from these bas-reliefs by now,” added Khosravi. He further stressed the importance of covering up the bas-reliefs and calling on some of the most skilled restoration experts to immediately start restoring these Sasanian remains.


The highest peak in southeast Iran, Khajeh Mountain is referred to as a sacred mountain in Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam. Remains of a gigantic fortress built during the Parthian dynastic period can still be seen atop this mountain which also bears evidence of the Sasanian era. There is also number of small temples (possibly Mithraist), known to the locals as the "Kouchakchal Ganjeh".  This fortress is now on the verge of collapse and needs immediate restoration by experts.

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