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Archaeologists Discovered Largest Parthian Fortress in Iran-Proper


27 February 2008



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LONDON, (CAIS) -- During the first season of archaeological research in Nakhl-e Ebrahim village, in the Persian Gulf’s Hormozgan Province, Iranian archaeologists have discovered a fortress dating back to the third Iranian dynasty, the Parthians (248BCE-224CE).


“Twenty days into the first season of archaeological research in the area, we have managed to discover the fortress and complete 70% of our scheduled programme”, said Abbas Noruzi, the vice president of Hormozgan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (HCHTO).


Archaeological geophysics survey confirms the fortress's covering an area of 15,000 square-meters, which makes the biggest Parthian fortress ever to have been discovered in Iran-Proper. The fortress and its surrounding structure could cover an area in excess of 30,000m2.


The fortress is now located 1500 meters north of the Strait of Hormuz, but had originally been constructed on the shore of the strait due to the water level prevailing at that time.


The fortress has been constructed on a regular plan and comprises many square-shaped rooms positioned in a symmetrical pattern. Archaeologists have also discovered decorative bricks and dual and tri coloured potteries.


Noruzi also asserted that archaeologists have found a large number of Parthian 'jar burials' in the cemetery section.”


In this regard Siyamak Sarlak director of the archaeological team in the Strait of Hurmoz said: "the jars contained burial gifts, including pottery vessels, jewelleries, such as necklaces made of nacre, agate and steatite beads."


The position of the fortress reconfirms the strategic importance of the strait even during the Parthian dynastic era, Sarlak noted.


Unfortunately, some parts of this unique structure has been destroyed by nearby fishery construction projects.


With the discovery of such a large fortress and settlement, history can possibly name Nakhl-e Ebrahinm village (also known as Nakhl-e Ebrahimi) as an important Parthian port in the Persian Gulf. The original Parthian name of the coastal village is unknown.



The Strait of Hormuz

The Strait of Hormuz, is the entrance to the Persian Gulf from the Indian Ocean, which has been a strategic focus in world affairs for thousands of years. The strait touches Iran to the north and Oman to the south.


During the Sasanian era (224-651 CE) Yemen and Oman were part of Iran's Mazun (also Mazon) Province, governed by the Persian nobles. The main garrison for the Persian army was the Fortress of Rostāg (nowadays Rustag, rebuilt in 1711). Also, most of the southern coasts of the Persian Gulf were occupied by Iranians, particularly the Zoroastrian converts to Christianity who lived there as the exiles. 


There are not many references to the area in the 6th and 7th centuries but there is one Gabriel who is mentioned as being the Persian (Nestorian) Bishop of Hormuz c. 540 CE which at that time would have been on the mainland-Iran. 


The south side of the Strait however, had to contend with considerable changes after the fall of Sasanian dynasty of Iran in the middle of 7th century CE. Although, Iranians have lost Oman to Arab army, the coasts continue to be occupied by the Persians and remained under the local Iranian rulers of Hormuz. 


This was a pattern that continued till about the 18th century when it was reversed and Arabs obtained coastal towns on the south side of the Strait and the Makran coast from Iranians. Nonetheless, to this day, at the north end of Omani side of the Strait is the village of Kumzar, occupied by an Iranian speaking stock.


According to some historical accounts, the name of the Strait of Hormuz derived from local Persian word hurmogh meaning date-palm. However, according to some some scholars as well as popular beliefs, hormuz is a derivative and shortened from of Ahura Mazda, the God of Zoroastrian religion. In the local Persian dialect spoken in Hurmoz and Minab, the strait is still called Hurmogh.





Original News bulletin published in Persian by CHTN & CHN, and extracted and translated by CAIS [*]




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