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Tarikhaneh' Original Floor Found


13 July 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- The original floor of Iran’s first mosque called ’Tarikhaneh’ was unearthed during excavations to repair the outer boundaries of a present-day mosque in Damghan, Semnan province.

The brick-covered floor of the mosque was unearthed on the northwestern and northeastern parts of the mosque.

According to Persian Service of CHN, discovery of the original floor prompted experts to suspend repair works and embark on emergency excavations at the monument.

Director of Damghan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Office, Maryam Davoudian said that there is a narrow aisle on the northeastern part of the building which looks like a waterway and the bricks spread on the floor date back to Ghaznavid period.

She said that the surface of the southwestern floor is exactly on the same scale as the central floor of the structure and the symmetry of the floor can be determined by measurement devices.

Archeologist Zarrin-Taj Sheibani from the Archeology Research Center, who is specialist in Islamic archeology, visited the mosque and confirmed the discovery of original floor in her report. 


Director General of Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department in Semnan Province Abbas Kashian said that he requested permission for emergency excavation at the site from the Archeology Research Center. He said that repair of the monument will be carried out after the emergency excavations. 


In ancient times the city of Damqan in its period of splendor, was the most important city on the main Silk Road. In the Parthian dynastic era, the city was the central capital of the Arsacids. The Greek had named the city (Hegatempolis) which meant the city of a hundred gates.

The discovery of ancient monuments such as Tapeh-Hesar gives evidence of the importance of this city. Such discoveries also give evidence of a four thousand year old Aryan civilization in this region.

The intense prejudice of the Sasanian dynasty against their predecessor, the Arsacid dynasty was the main cause behind the destruction of this immense center of civilization, while ironically both dynasties declared to be the heirs of the Achaemenid civilization. Of the one hundred gates which surrounded the capital of the powerful Parthian empire, not one remains.

After the advent of Islam in Iran, the only Sasanid monument of this region, the Tarikhaneh fire temple, was turned into a mosque. Tari-khana Mosque, 8th century, is the oldest extant mosque in Iran and although in the simple Arab plan it retains many elements recalling Iran's pre-Islamic heritage. The massive piers and the shape of the arches follow Sasanian prototypes.

Although its foundation dates from the eighth century and it has been restored on several occasions, the mosque still keep its original plan and impressive simplicity.

The architectural changes of the interior of the Tarikhaneh are related to the social changes in Damqan during the fall of the Sasanid Empire. The transformation of the fire temple into a mosque goes back to the end of the second century and beginning of the third century, when the House of Espahdan Bavandi of Hezarjarib- a city in the province of Mazandaran converted the Zoroastrian neighboring cities to Islam.

Twenty-six of the original forty columns are still standing and in spite of the original structure being Zoroastrian, the architects who reconstructed the interior to build a mosque, have captured the soul and simplicity of the first Islamic mosques in Iran.







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