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Remarkable Discovery of an Achaemenian Gateway Near Persepolis

The joint efforts of Iranian-Italian excavation expedition bore further fruits in Tal-e-Ajory historical mound in the vicinity of Persepolis. The result has been a gateway had been constructed for an Achaemenian palace already in place before Persepolis had been built! Yes, the fact is that this discovery has unveiled some ambiguous unknown period about the ancient city of Parseh. The time period is between 559 and 521 BC, the era of the Persian Empire reigned by Cyrus the great and Cambyses.

The Square Structure of Gateway

Part of the brick-made gateway

Part of the brick-made gateway

According to Cultural New Agency, the dimensions of the recently discovered gateway has been:

  • 40 m long walls on North-South side
  • 30 m long walls on East-West side
  • 10-12 m thick walls on all sides

This square gateway was built in a 40 sq meter area leading people in and out on SE and NW corridors. There could have been approximately 1000s of 33 cm by 33 cm bricks, each one 11 cm thick forming the gateway. After the fall of Achaemenians, this historical mound built by such large number of bricks was demolished. That’s why local people call it Tal-e-Ajory, meaning brick-made mound.

Art & Architecture at This Achaemenian Gateway

As a result of the recent archaeological excavations in Iran as well as studying 12 other Achaemenian monuments at this side of Persepolis, it’s largely speculated that this part of the ancient city of Parseh used to exist at the time of Cyrus the great and more importantly, before the construction of Persepolis. The reason for such inference is the fact that there are several similarities between the motifs on the glazed bricks of this newly discovered gateway and those of the Mesopotamian myths, in particular with those of Ishtar Gateway in ancient Babylon. Another similarity is found between the plan of the discovered palace near this Gateway and those of the ancient Babylon as well as Pasargadae.

 

Sample glazed bricks with patterns,

Sample glazed bricks with patterns

There can be found the traces of mythical animals on these glazed bricks. The most significant discovery of this season of archaeological excavations in Iran have been 30 glazed bricks decorated by combinations of winged animals. In most of them, there can be noticed mythical griffins of Elamite and Achaemenian eras depicted with the ancient traditions of SW Iran, Susa and the Mesopotamia. Among them all, Mushussu, is the legendary animal depicted on bricks like in ancient Babylon. It’s an animal that looks like dragons, lions and snakes combined.

Bas-relief of Mushussu in the Pergamon Museum,

Bas-relief of Mushussu in the Pergamon Museum

 

Approximately 100 m South of this historical mound, there’s another historical mound in which a large palace (50 m by 60 m) had been unearthed. The space between this palace and newly discovered gateway had been planned as Persian gardens with some water supplement structures. Geophysics studies have proved the existence of such gardens and their water supplying facilities.

More Discoveries at this Area

As more and more remnants of ancient monuments and archeological excavations are found at this area of Iran, an interesting fact is revealed to us: In an area of 600 square acres, there had been laid a landscape with several royal monuments as well as Persian gardens among them, creating a breathtaking view for those inside Persepolis.

 

Khorvin Artifacts on Display at Tehran’s Archaeological Museum

This is the post I’d promised you to write about. The Iranian objects returned from Belgium, known as Khorvin artifacts, are now displayed at Tehran’s Archaeological Museum. This temporary exhibition is showcasing all the objects returned home from Belgium after almost a century. The photos you see at this post are all taken at this exhibition.

Several monochrome potteries unearthed in Khorvin

Several monochrome potteries unearthed in Khorvin

 

Here, first I introduce the ancient site of Khorvin OR Khorwin:

The Site of Khorvin & Its Findings

At approximately 80 km North West of Tehran, at the North of Karaj-Qazvin highway, there’s an area with two well-known historic mounds of “Ganj Tappeh” and “Siah Tappeh”. In 1949, Archaeological Center of Iran found out that particular type of ancient artifacts are being bought and sold among people. The center discovered these two historic mounds and carried out a series of excavations in elliptical graves. The findings were 228 objects that were transferred to the National Museum of Iran (the same as Archeological Museum of Iran) to be safeguarded there.

The burial rituals of the communities living there included various grave goods like pottery vessels, clay figurines as well as stone and bronze objects. In addition, they had ornamented these dead bodies with personal adornments like necklaces, diadems, earrings, bracelets, pins and pendants. Among the potteries unearthed, the majority was gray potteries without painted motifs and few plain red potteries were also discovered that looked like some other ones found in Tehran’s big plain.

A three-legged gray pottery from Khorvin

A three-legged gray pottery from Khorvin

A zoomorphic pottery from Khorvin

A zoomorphic pottery from Khorvin

A monochromic stylized pottery from Khorvin

A monochromic stylized pottery from Khorvin

 

There are numerous bronze objects discovered in Khorvin site. However, the items made of copper and iron are rare. A large number of bronze objects of Khorvin are agricultural tools as well as weapons like dagger, spears, axes, maces and arrowheads. In addition, some objects are human figurines which have been interpreted as representations of warriors.

Some bronze objects (tools) from Khorvin

Some bronze objects (tools) from Khorvin

Importance of Khorvin Objects in Archaeology & Ancient Sociology

The Iron Age lasted almost a millennium, from mid-2nd to mid-1st millennium and came after Bronze Age. Archaeological theories discuss that gray potteries were introduced in Iranian craftsmanship since Aryan migration started in Iran (approximately at the same time of the Iron Age). Khorvin findings support this idea too. The resemblance of the findings from North, North West and North East of Iran as well as these items to the findings of a large number of the other historic mounds found at other parts of Iran provide reliable documents for the Aryans’ migration story to the Iranian Plateau.

Iron & bronze tools and figurines from Khorvin

Iron & bronze tools and figurines from Khorvin

 

Moreover, these returned items from Belgium maintain the important role of the communities, living at the Northern and Southern foothills of the Alborz mountain range, in major cultural developments. The Southern foothill of the Alborz, where Khorvin is situated, has always been fertile with local economies thriving. Several small rivers could have been tapped as best water resources for agriculture and animal husbandry. Therefore, the inhabitants of these communities were more focused on producing food and improving living conditions than warfare. Interestingly enough, it’s been found out that the number of the weaponries in Khorvin objects was less than other sites in other regions of Iran.

The widespread usage of iron items in Iranian Plateau during the 9th century BC are convincing witnesses to the social, political and economic changes. The construction of particular public buildings and temples during this era is also indicative of such major developments.