The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
(CAIS) -- The
first season of archaeological research at Parthian Qal'eh-ye Yazdegerd
(Yazdegerd Fortress) has ended with unearthing six residential units dated to
the late Arsacid (Parthian) dynastic era, reported Persian service of CHN on
Monday May 01.
Archaeologists after four
decades of absence in the fortress of Yazdegerd began their first season of
archaeological research in November 2007, with the aim of gaining a better
understanding of late-Parthian dynastic period of Iranian history.
“after few decades of
absence we have began our first season of archaeological research in Yazdegerd
Fortress, with the aim of better understanding of the [Arsacid] government”,
said veteran Iranian archaeologist, Dr Masud Azarnoush director of
Archaeological research team at Yazdegerd Fortress.
Azarnoush expressed that
not enough research has been carried out in this part of the country which has
left gaps in our understanding of Iran’s history during the Arsacid dynastic
He also expressed his
dissatisfaction with the poor standard of research, and inadequate knowledge of
Iranian archaeologists and researchers about one of the greatest Iranian
“Despite the extensive
researches that have carried out by international researchers in Iraq and Syria
about Iran’s Parthian dynasty, our archaeologists and researchers’ knowledge
is inadequate”, said Azarnoush.
The Yazdegerd 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 Kermanshah Province.
There is a possible
connection between Yazdegerd Fortress and Haftan Bokht ‘the lord of worm’,
one of the villains of the Karnamak-i
(the deeds of Ardeshir Papakan).
Haftan Bokht and his
connection with the "worm" may be seen from the intertwined dragon
motifs in the fortress's capitals. Haftan Bokht was a Parthian local ruler and
pagan (possibly a Mihtraist) who
opposed Ardeshir's sovereignty and fought him to death. Haftan Bokht insignia
was dragon, hence Sasanian-Pahlavi kirm (Worm) is a condescending term
used by Sasanian instead of aždahāk (dragon).
research have confirmed that the fortress itself was abandoned in the late
Arsacid dynasty, however, the Sasanian constructions including the fire temple
at the foothills of the fortress, currently situated in Bān-Gombad
village, could be seen as confirmation that the fortress had belonged to Haftan
Bokht ,as Ardeshir ordered its destruction:
that the fortress should be razed to the ground and demolished, while on its
site he ordered the city which they call Guzaran to be erected. In that quarter
he caused the Atash-i-Vahram to be enthroned" (Karnamak-i Ardashir-i
Papakan, Chapter VIII).
The 40 hectare Yazdegerd
archaeological site is complex and consist of a palace, fire temple, prayer hall
(chapel), residential sector, garrison and defence structures. These were mainly
constructed during the Arsacid dynastic era (248 BCE – 224 CE) and expanded
and used during the Sasanian dynastic (224-651 CE), and post-Sasanian periods.
The walls and columns of the complex once were covered with stucco moulds and had carved in coloured patterns of repetitive figural compositions that mimicked wall-hangings. Surfaces were divided into flat panels and bands of repeat designs suggestive of textile ornament, and the relief designs were painted in bright, even gaudy colours and executed in varying scales.
Unfortunately, most of the
stucco decorations and statues were destroyed by locals, as they were reused as building materials.
The use of plaster rendering on walls and columns in Iran developed during the Arsacid dynastic era. Parthian art which was the continuation of Achaemenid dynastic art and was used as a template for the art of the succeeding dynasty. Parthian stucco decoration and motifs also anticipate Islamic art by several centuries.
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