The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
LONDON, (CAIS) -- A team of archaeologists working on the Kangelu fortress in northern Iran’s Mazandaran Province has found evidence suggesting that it might have been a Mithraist temple during the Sasanid dynasty, the Persian service of CHN reported on Wednesday.
team recently discovered engravings depicting ibex and cypress trees, an
inscription written in Sasanian Pahlavi (Middle-Persian), and some structures
with Mithraist architectural elements at Kangelu, which experts believed was a Sasanid
fortress before the discoveries.
temples were usually built in caves or in lower places. A hole was made facing
the sun in such structures. In initial studies, the archaeologists have
identified a hole facing west in the lower part of Kangelu’s tower, which
shows that a room lies beneath the tower,” team director Saman Surtiji said.
an area of 50 square meters, Kangelu has been constructed in three stories with
stones and “saruj”, a mortar of cement and gypsum used in Sasanid era
architecture. The ruins also indicate that it had arches, transept-like
extensions, and a tower protecting it against landslides.
archaeologists have also unearthed a Sasanid burial along with silver rings with
agate gems bearing engravings, which raises the possibility that the monument is
a Mithraist temple. One of the gems bears an engraving of the sun with six rays
of light emanating from it, symbolizing the sun or the chariot of the goddess
other ring has a skillfully engraved picture of a cypress, which was respected
to Surtiji, the gem of one of the rings has engraving of an ibex, which
symbolizes beneficial nature in Mithraism. Another ring has an inscription
bearing the word “farakhi” or “farahi” in Pahlavi letters in an unspaced
script style. Such a style dates back to the 3rd century CE when Mithraism was
at its zenith in Iran and Europe.
Mithra, the Iranian god of the sun, justice, contract, and war in
pre-Zoroastrian (pre-1800 BCE) Iran. Known as Mithras in the Roman Empire during
the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, this deity was honored as the patron of loyalty to
the emperor. After the acceptance of Christianity by the emperor Constantine in
the early 4th century, Mithraism rapidly declined.
team is searching for more evidence in order to prove their theory that the
structure is a Mithraist temple. If this turns out to be the case, it would be
the first Sasanid era temple discovered in Mazandaran.
Copyright © 1998-2015 The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies (CAIS)