Category Archives: IRAN

Excavation in Northern Iran Recovers Early Islamic Artifacts

Excavation in Northern Iran Recovers Early Islamic Artifacts

During an archeological excavation process that is currently being carried out in a century-long congregational mosque in Rasht, the capital of the Gilan province in northern Iran, historical artifacts have been discovered.

Saturday, the Deputy Provincial Tourism Chief Vali Jahani announced that “the excavations within the historic Saphi Mosque of Rasht had led to the discovery of items with historical values which appear to have been discovered below Islamic era tombs.

“A glass scent-bottle, a pottery handmade bowl, and other glassware are the objects. And the placement of these objects in the lower layers of Islamic-era tombs shows the importance of this historical area,” the official said, CHTN reported.

Excavations at Iranian mosque unearth new evidence on life in early Islamic era

Earlier this month, several ancient glazed tiles were unearthed beneath the mosque while a team of restorers was digging into its mihrab.

Mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that points out the qibla, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying.

Referring to a restoration project, which initially led to such discoveries in the mosque, the official explained “The restoration project has been temporarily suspended to leave the ground for archaeological surveys.”

“Given that the discovered objects will be very useful in the dating of the city of Rasht, so fragments of these works will be sent to advanced laboratories in the country to obtain the absolute antiquity of the objects, and dating will be conducted via the thermoluminescent approach.”

“According to the present evidence, these historical objects discovered from the Safi Mosque belong to the Ilkanind and Timurid periods,” he concluded.

In the month of Farvardin (Mach 20 – April 19) a trench measuring 1.5 m by 1.5 m was carved in the mosque’s shabestan (an underground space that can be usually found in the traditional architecture of mosques in ancient Iran), which resulted in recognizing some additional sections.

Safi Mosque, also known as Sefid and Shahidiyeh Mosque, which is widely considered as the oldest standing monuments in Rasht, was reportedly established before Shah Ismail, the Safavid monarch, assumed power (in 1501).

Prehistoric ‘Mantis Man’ Petroglyph Discovered In Iran

Prehistoric ‘Mantis Man’ Petroglyph Discovered In Iran

A rare rock carving found in Central Iran’s Teymareh rock art site (Khomein county) in Central Iran with six limbs has been described as part man, part mantis.

Invertebrate animals ‘ rock carvings, or petroglyphs, are rare, and entomologists have teamed up with archeologists to try and identify the motif. 

We associated the carvings with others around the world and with the local six-legged creatures which its prehistoric artists could have encountered.

Entomologists Mahmood Kolnegari, Islamic Azad University of Arak, Iran; Mandana Hazrati, Avaye Dornaye Khakestari Institute, Iran; and Matan Shelomi, National Taiwan University teamed up with a freelance archaeologist and rock art expert Mohammad Naserifard and describe the petroglyph in a new paper published in the open-access Journal of Orthoptera Research. 

The 14-centimeter carving was first spotted during surveys between 2017 and 2018, but could not be identified due to its unusual shape.

The Teymareh rock art site in central Iran (Markazi Province, Iran), where the petroglyph was found

The six limbs suggest an insect, while the triangular head with big eyes and the grasping forearms are unmistakably those of a praying mantid, a predatory insect that hunts and captures prey like flies, bees and even small birds.

An extension on its head even helps narrow the identification to a particular genus of mantids in this region: Empusa.

Even more mysterious are the middle limbs, which end in loops or circles. The closest parallel to this in archaeology is the ‘Squatter Man,’ a petroglyph figure found around the world depicting a person flanked by circles.

While they could represent a person holding circular objects, an alternative hypothesis is that the circles represent auroras caused by atmospheric plasma discharges.

It is presently impossible to tell exactly how old the petroglyphs are because sanctions on Iran prohibit the use of radioactive materials needed for radiocarbon dating. However, experts Jan Brouwer and Gus van Veen examined the Teymareh site and estimated the carvings were made 40,000–4,000 years ago. 

One can only guess why prehistoric people felt the need to carve a mantis-man into rock, but the petroglyph suggests humans have linked mantids to the supernatural since ancient times.

As stated by the authors, the carving bears witness, “that in prehistory, almost as today, praying mantids were animals of mysticism and appreciation.”

Sarkubeh village (Markazi province, Iran) is the closes to the studied site human habitation

Ancient 70-Mile-Long Wall Found in Western Iran. But Who Built It?

Ancient 70-Mile-Long Wall Found in Western Iran. But Who Built It?

Everyone knows of the Great Wall of China, the series of fortifications constructed across the northern border of China, designed to protect against numerous nomadic forces, which is supposed to appear from the space (fun fact, it’s not). But have you ever heard of the wall of western Iran?

Not likely because it has recently been found by historical experts and archeologists.

Ancient Wall

The wall is located in the district of Sar Pol-e Zahab, in the west of Iran, and stretches for about 71 miles (or 115 kilometers) as far as the legendary Adrian Wall, constructed in England by the Romans.

This satellite image was taken on July 31, 2019, by the WorldView-2 satellite. The red arrows show a surviving section of the Gawri Wall.

The walls stretch from the Bamu Mountains north to an area close to the village of Zhaw Marg, south, as per the release says.

“With an estimated volume of approximately one million cubic meters [35,314,667 cubic feet] of stone, it would have required significant resources in terms of workforce, materials and time,”

Sajjad Alibaigi, a doctoral student in the department of archaeology at the University of Tehran, wrote.

According to the paper, the wall would have been built somewhere between the 4th century B.C. and 6th century A.D., as evidenced by some ancient pottery that has been found along the wall.

“Remnants of structures, now destroyed, are visible in places along the wall.

These may have been associated turrets [small towers] or buildings,” Alibaigi added, noting the wall itself is built from natural local materials, such as cobbles and boulders, with gypsum mortar surviving in places.

However, while the wall itself has just been recently identified, locals living around the area are aware of its presence, calling it the “Gawri Wall.”

Unfortunately, because it hasn’t been preserved properly, archaeologists aren’t sure how tall or wide it actually is, with the best guess sitting at 13 feet wide and around 10 feet tall. Why it was built, or who built it, is unknown as well.

However, since the Gawri wall isn’t the only ancient wall discovered in Iran, then it’s theorized that it may have been made for defensive purposes since similar structures have been located in the north and eastern parts of the country.

Ancient Advanced Technology: 2,400-Year-Old Yakhchals Kept Ice in the Desert

The Yakhchāl was an ancient Persian “the refrigerator” that stored food and even ice long before electricity was invented

The ancients were smarter than certain individuals think today. They had no rockets and electricity, no undisputed evidence of such techniques has been discovered, but they have developed technology which we generally do not associate with the ancient world.

The yakhchal (meaning ice pit) was a kind of old coolant constructed in the deserts of Persia (now Iran), which was made without electricity, with contemporary coolants, or with most contemporary coolers. It shows humans ‘ capacity of humans to find solutions to problems with any materials or technology they have available.

Take the Incas, for example, who did not have a developed alphabetic system for writing but had the quipu, a counting device of knots and strings that enabled them to keep track of population records and livestock and even recaptured essential episodes of their folklore.

When it comes to engineering, architectural wonders are omnipresent on almost every continent, whether that be the pyramids of Egypt, Angkor Wat of the Khmer Empire, or even entire underground cities such as Derinkuyu in Turkey’s Cappadocia region.

One great example of smart and sustainable engineering brings us to the Middle East, a realm noted for being one of the cradles of civilization and developing human cultures. There, around the 4th century B.C., the ancient Persians came up with what is known as yakhchāl.

Characteristic ice-house construction called a Yakhchal in Kashan, Iran.

The yakhchāl did not serve as a burial ground or a place to accommodate people, but it instead fulfilled another important function amid the scorching summers.

With excessive heat and arid climate, the region had occupants, the ancient Persians, who needed some way to cool off and store food during the summer months, and that’s when yakhchāls were found of great help.

The word stands for “ice pit.” These edifices provided both space and conditions to store not only ice but also many types of food that would otherwise quickly spoil at hot temperatures.

Yakhchāl near Kerman, Iran

On the outside, a yakhchāl structure can dominate the skyline with its domed shape, and on the inside, it would typically integrate an evaporation cooler system that allowed the ice and food resources to stay cool or even frozen while stored in the structure’s underground rooms.

It may sound a bit far-fetched that the ancient Persians saved ice in the middle of the desert, but their technique was, in essence, not so complicated.

Yakhchal in Yazd, Iran

A typical yakhchāl edifice would rise some 60 feet, and on the inside, it would contain vast spaces for storage. The leading examples point to figures such as 6,500 cubic yards in volume.

The evaporative cooling system inside the structures functioned through windcatchers and water brought from nearby springs via qanāts, common underground channel systems in the region designed to carry water through communities and different facilities.

The evaporative cooling allowed temperatures inside the yakhchāl to decrease with ease, giving a chill feeling that indeed you are standing inside one big refrigerator.

The walls of it were constructed intelligently as well, with the usage of special mortar that provided super insulation and protection from the hot desert sun. It was a mix of sand, clay, and other components such as egg whites and goat hair among others.

Exterior and interior (dome) of the yakhchal in Meybod, Iran 

The structures also contained trenches at the bottom, designed to collect any water coming from molten ice. Once collected, this water was then refrozen during nighttime, making maximum use of the resource as well as the cold desert night temperatures. It was a repetitive process.

Not only did the yakhchāls provide basic food resources, treats, and ice for the royals and high state officials, but the service was so attainable that even the poorest of society could access it. 

Usage of yakhchāls has halted in modern times, and though some structures have been damaged and eroded by desert storms, still, many can be found intact across Iran and some of its neighboring countries, as far as to Tajikistan.

The usage of the term yakhchāl lingers on in the region today, commonly referring to refrigerators found in modern-day kitchens.

Ancient Underground ‘City’ Investigated By Iranian Archaeologists

Ancient Underground ‘City’ Investigated By Iranian Archaeologists

Archeologists in Iran Open the Door to An Ancient Underground City

There are underground cities all over the planet, there are as many as 200 underground cities in Turkey alone.

That’s finding more subterranean cities in other parts of the world doesn’t come as a surprise.

Now, it has been reported how a group of archeologists has managed to open a door to an ancient underground city in Iran.

The underground city of Saleh Abad

The exact age of the underground city remains debatable, but archeologists estimate its anywhere between 800 to 1000 years old.

Scholars say that the subterranean city of Saleh Abad was most likely built in the 12th or 13th century when the Ilkhanate dynasty ruled the area.

During the initial works, ceramic pieces from that period were recovered among other artifacts.

Ahmad Torabi, a provincial tourism official who participated in the opening of the door to the city points out that the place was not made public when it was found three years ago in order to prevent possible looting before researchers could study the site.

“Now we need more time to investigate and explore this area,” Torabi said, explaining that the underground city may even have been used in modern times during World War II when entire families used it to hide from the Soviet armies.

A team of archaeologists has commenced an extensive research on a centuries-old underground “city”, which is located in Salehabad district of Hamedan province, west-central Iran.

“At the time when Russian soldiers crossed the area [during the World War II], the men of the region concealed their families in the underground city so that no one noticed their presence,” Torabi added.

The area where the underground city was discovered, Hamadan, is one of the oldest in Iran and was part of ancient Ecbatana, which was the capital of Media and a summer residence of the Achaemenian kings who ruled Persia from 553 to 330 BC.

This ancient city is not by far the oldest one discovered in the region. Experts have previously discovered subterranean cities in Iran (Samen and Arzan-Fu) and some of them are thought to date back more than 2,500 years.