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Sunday, 12 January 2014 08:59

Atashgah of Isfahan

Atashgah (fire temple) of Isfahan is a Sassanid archeological complex located on a hill with mud-brick settlements about 8 kilometers west of Isfahan. According to Iran Daily quoting HistoricalIran, the ancient Zoroastrian fire temple is currently no longer in use.

Atashgah presents a magnificent view of Zayandehroud River and the city of Isfahan.
The hill, which rises about 210 meters above the surrounding plain, was previously called Maras or Marabin after a village nearby.

One part of the complex, on the southern flank of the hill, are the remains of a citadel of about 20 buildings (or rooms within buildings).
Several buildings have a classic char taq (four-arch) floor-plan, which is characteristic of Zoroastrian fire temples of the 3rd century, which housed sacred fires.
Other buildings include what may have been storage rooms and living quarters for priests and pilgrims.
A tentative identification of the purpose of the ruins was first made in 1937 by Andre Godard. But it was not until 1960, when architect Maxine Siroux made the first drawings, that the site could be properly studied.
Godard’s identifications were subsequently confirmed by Klaus Schippman in 1971.
Another feature of the complex is the remains of a tower-like circular building on top of the same hill.
This structure, which was once at least 20 meters high, is known by the locals as Borj-e Qorban and appears to have been a military watch-tower with a flare that could be lit to warn of an approaching enemy.
In both cases, the remaining walls are of baked brick, held together with a clay-reed mixture. In the 10th century, the buildings were used by Ismaeili inhabitants of Isfahan to hide from tax collectors.
Historian Masoudi visited the site around the same time and records local tradition as having believed that the site was converted from one of idol worship to one of fire by King Yustasf (i.e. Vishtaspa, the Zoroastrian patron) when he adopted the religion of the Magi.
In 2002, archeologist Alireza Jafari Zand published a report on pre-Islamic Isfahan in which he emphasizes the religious role of the complex. Zand believes the radiocarbon dating showsthe construction was Elamite (pre-6th century).
A doctoral thesis suggests a “similarity” between the tower and an edifice in city of Qom known as Chahak Fire Temple—the similarity being that the building in Qom has a cylindrical structure at the top while the tower in Isfahan is based on a circular plan.
On the opposite side of the road in the plain, a path leads down to interesting pigeon towers, some of which have been decorated.

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