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Latest Archaeological and Cultural News of Iran and the Iranian World


Sections of Anahita Temple at Kangavar Destroyed By New Construction


20 January 2010



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  Pictures showing the concrete-footings, building materials and vandalisms

Pictures courtesy of Mehr News

(Click to enlarge)


LONDON, (CAIS) -- Once again pre-Islamic Iranian heritage faces destruction, this time the victim is the famous historical platform known as the Anahita Temple, in the township of Kangavar in Kermanshah Province.


The damages have been caused by construction activities including excavations for concrete-footings on the ancient platform, reported the Persian service of Mehr News on Sunday.


The construction has outraged archaeologists and cultural enthusiasts who are voicing their concerns over the destruction.

The news agency released pictures showing some concrete-footings at the site that have not yet dried out and metal beams ready to be erected. The evidence suggests a large construction is on the way and no one knows the purpose of the building or who is responsible for the destruction.


The construction work at the site has begun despite the fact that the heritage regulations ban any constructions on or around cultural heritage sites, though Islamic Republic is no stranger to ignoring this law.


The Islamic Republic’s authorities are also refusing to comment on the issue.


When Mehr News agency reporter asked Zeinoldini the director of Kangavar Cultural Heritage Department about the destruction of the site, he refused to comment, responded “the order came from the top to not give any information, and you should contact the ICHTHO’s Public Relation Office to obtain the information.”


This is not the first time however the pre-Islamic Iranian heritage is threatened by new constructions. Since the Islamic Republic came to power in 1979, pre-Islamic Iranian heritage has suffered extensively and many historical sites have been destroyed under the guise of development projects.


The biggest of them all is the notorious Sivand Dam in Fars province, which submerged over 137 archaeological sites, including an Achaemenid dynastic (550-330 BCE) palace denoted to Darius the Great; a section of the Achaemenid Imperial Road; a Parthian cemetery and a Sasanian dynastic wine workshop. In addition, the humidity that is generated from the artificial lake has affected the structural-integrity of the Pasargadae the first capital of Achaemenid dynasty.


Many Iranians and cultural institutions including CAIS, believe the regime’s main objective for building the Sivand dam was a gradual destruction of Pasargadae and particularly the mausoleum of Cyrus the Great as the result of high humidity levels in the area.


The historical figure of the Cyrus the Great is placed on the top of the Islamic Regime leaders’ hate list. He who is considered by Iranians as the ‘Father of the Nation’ has been under constant attack and name-callings, simply because Iranians have great respect and deep warm feelings for the benevolent ancient Iranian king.

With the current ongoing uprising in Iran, and new hopes for the fall of the theocratic-totalitarian regime on the horizon, Iranians archaeologists and cultural enthusiasts believe the first task of the new regime in power, is an immediate decommissioning of a number of dams built to target pre-Islamic Iranian heritage sites.



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.


With the recent invasion and destruction of the site, obtaining and establishing the exact date or the function of the structure sinks further into ambiguity.






Portions of this news have been excerpted from Persian service of Mehr News and CHN - translated and rectified by CAIS. [*]




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