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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Prospect of a Second Season of Archaeological Research in Parthian Fortress of Yazdgerd


20 July 2008



LONDON, (CAIS) -- The director of the archaeological team at Yazdgerd fortress announced a possible second season of archaeological research at the historical site, reported by the Persian service of ISNA on Saturday.


The first season of archaeological research was conducted after 30 years of absence of archaeologists in the area. The archaeological complex was first excavated by Edward J. Keall of Toronto Royal Ontario Museum, who found a collection of artistic symbols, dating back to the Arsacid (Parthian) dynasty (248 BCE-224 CE).


“The first season of archaeological excavations with the assistance of Kermanshah Cultural Heritage and Tourism Organisation (KCHTO) was completed and we are currently preparing the preliminary reports of our work” said veteran Iranian archaeologist Dr Masud Azarnoush, the director archaeological research team at Yazdgerd Fortress.


“In the previous season we worked on the Eastern and Western sections of the palace, which are known as the Eastern and the Western gypsum-domes, and managed to unearth both buildings. We are hoping with the future implementation of safety measures we will be able to facilitate tourists to visit the site,” said Azarnoush.


With regard to the possible second season of archaeological research which was proposed by the Kermanshah’ governor office he said: “the previous archaeological research in the area proved to be fruitful, and with the presence of large historical, archaeological and natural sites in the province, we will be able to turn it to an attraction zone.”


Azarnoush previously announced the discovery of a hallway within the chapel of the palace with its ceiling still intact, as well as some murals, all dating to the Parthian dynastic era.


According to Azarnoush the palatial and fortress complex were constructed similar to edifices discovered at Hekmataneh Tappeh (also Ecbatana, modern day Hamadan), which date back to the Parthian dynastic period.


He concluded: “the Parthian remains of the site including a large palace, a number of constructions which may have had military use, and a large garrison which is surrounded by defensive walls 40 square kilometres long.”


According to the local folklore the fortress named after the last Sasanian emperor Yazdgerd III when he and his daughter Sharbanu had to seek refuge in the fortress while they were running from the invading Arab army. According to the Shi’a Islam tradition Princess Shahrbanu was sold as a slave and purchased by Hussain the second Shi’a Imam,  thus connecting the shi’a’s lineage to the imperial family. However, when Yazdgered fled the Ctesiphone he was only fourteen years of age and having a daughter of marital age is remotely plausible. Therefore the story is nothing more than a myth and falsified to give legitimacy to the Arab Hashemite family of being half Iranian and a descendant of the royal house of Sasan, in order to secure Iranians' support in their constant battle with the ruling Umayyads family who were ruled the newly formed Islamic empire at that time.


The Yazdgerd (also Yadegerd) Fortress is one of the greatest ancient defence structures in Iran-proper situated in the north of Sar Pol Zohāb, 18 kilometres from Reejāb – Sar Pol Zohāb junction in Western Iranian province of Kermanshah. The edifice overlooks the ancient Silk Road.


The archaeological site consists of a palace, fire temple, prayer hall (chapel), residential sector, military quarters, garrison and defensive structures. These were mainly constructed during the reign of third Iranian dynasty, the Arsacids and expanded and reused during the Sasanian dynastic (224-651 CE), and post-Sasanian (651-850 CE) periods. 





Original News bulletin published in Persian by ISNA, and translated and modified by CAIS [*]




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