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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


UPDATE: The Destruction Of Anahita Temple By The Islamic Republic Endowments Organisation


01 February 2010



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  Images from CAIS Archive. courtesy of MehrNews and ISNA (Click to enlarge)


LONDON, (CAIS) -- The construction project that caused destruction and damages to the Anahita Temple in Kangavar in Kermanshah Province was halted last week.


The decision to halt the project was made following publication of a report on the mess at the Parthian dynastic era site by the Persian service of the Mehr News Agency.


The provincial department of the Islamic Republic Endowments and Charity Affairs in Kangavar began construction of concrete footings to develop the roofing for Imamzadeh[i] Ebrahim located on the perimeter of the Anahita Temple in December.


Construction of a hotel at the location is a part of the development plan.


“The construction project near the Anahita Temple was illegal so it was barred by a court order,” Kermanshah Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department (KCHTHD) Director Asadollah Beiranvand told the Persian service of Mehr News Agency.


He said that the office had begun the project without receiving approval from the KCHTHD.


Meanwhile, KECAO Director Mohammad Qorbani denied Beiranvand’s remarks and said that construction was carried out based on mutual agreement between the KCHTHD and KECAO.


According to Qorbani, the development plan was approved by the Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization in 1994, but implementation of the plan was postponed for unspecified reasons.


The development plan received approval of the Kermanshah Governor’s General Office in 2009 and the final version of it was signed during a session attended by officials from the KCHTHD, the KECAO and the Kermanshah governor general on December 19, 2009.


Anahita Temple

The proposed date for the construction of the Anahita Temple is circa 200 BCE, thus placing it as the oldest surviving stone structure from the Parthian dynasty (248BCE - 224CE) in Iran-proper.


The platform covers 4,600 sq.m, constructed over a mound 32-meters high, and is claimed to have been a temple dedicated to the Zoroastrian deity ‘Aredvi Sura Anahita’ (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā), venerated as the divinity of 'the Waters' (Aban), associated with fertility, healing, purity and wisdom.

The remains at Kangavar reveal an edifice that is Hellenistic in character and yet displays distinctly Iranian architectural traits. The platform’s enormous dimensions and its megalithic foundations, corroborated by the two lateral stairways that ascend the platform echo and recalling Achaemenid traditions, particularly mimicking that of the Apadana Palace at Persepolis.


Since its construction, the ancient structure underwent numerous major reconstruction periods continuing into 19th century, and until detailed further excavations are to be carried out, no definite judgments may be declared on its function.


The monument was seriously damaged during an earthquake in 1957. Afterwards, some locals invaded the perimeter of the site, using stones from the temple to rebuild their homes at that location.



[i] Imamzadeh, a Persian term referring to the descendant of an imam or the burial of such a person. Among Twelver Shi'a in Iran, the term is used to denote the descendant of one of the first eleven imams, who had direct lineage to the Muslims prophet’s Muhammad. Also it is referring to the tomb built over the burial place for such a person. These burials attract many visitors and pilgrims every year who considered visiting them as a meritorious act. There are over 124,000 known registered Imamzadehs in Iran, which are controlled by the Endowments and Charity Organisation. Majority of these Imamzadehs have cropped up after 16th century by clerics for their own financial gains, with no connection to the actual Imams or their descendants. These alleged-burials generate a constant and impressive revenue for the clerics. It is also claimed a number of thee tombs, were Zoroastrian shrines, clad in Islamic dress for their protection, which throughout  the centuries their origin have been forgotten.






Original news bulletin published by Mehr News rectified and edited by CAIS [*]




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