Thursday, May 29, 2008

Anahita Temple The Legendary Monument

Anahita Temple The Legendary Monument
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On the road from Tehran toward Kermanshah, one passes through the valley of Asadabad . There, in the small town of Kangavar , ruins of a historical site appear in full majesty.
This site is known as the Temple of Anahita, which was built by Achaemenian Emperor Ardeshir II (Artaxerxes II) during 359 BC to 404 BC, the website Vohuman reported.
Kangavar was mentioned by the Greek geographer Isidore of Charax in the first century AD under the name of Konkobar in the ancient province of Ecbatana ; its name may have been derived from the Avestan Kanhavara, “enclosure of Kanha“.
This legendary temple was built in honor of “Ardevisur Anahita,“ the female guardian angel of waters.
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Architecture
The temple’s architecture matches those of palaces and temples built during the Achaemenian period, 330 BC to 550 BC, in western Iran . Large pieces of stone are cut and placed on top of each other; their shape usually causes them to interlock and form a wall or platform by a mountainside.
The Arab geographer Yaqut wrote the following about Kangavar in 1220: he says the place was the meeting-place of bandits, locally called either Qasr-e Shirin ( Castle of Shirin ) after Khosro’s favorite wife, or more often Qasr Al-Lasus (the Robbers’ Castle).
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He wrote: “The Robbers’ Castle is a very remarkable monument, and there is a platform some 20 cubits above the ground and on it there are vast portals, palaces and pavilions, remarkable for their solidity and beauty.“
The shapes and carvings of the columns are similar to those found in Persepolis and the Palace of Darius in Susa .
In the 19th century, various Europeans investigated the ruins. Ker Porter in 1818
found them to form the foundations of a single huge platform--a rectangular terrace three hundred yards long, crowned with a colonnade.
Professor Jackson in 1906 found one very well-preserved wall at the northwestern corner of the enclosure, probably part of the foundation of a single building. It was 12 to 15 feet high and lay north to south for more than 70 feet.
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Silver and Gold
According to some historians, the Temple of Anahita at Ecbatana was a vast palace, four-fifths of a mile in circumference, built of cedar or cypress wood. In all of it, not a single plank or column stood but was covered by plates of silver or gold. Every tile of the floor was made of silver and the building’s faade was apparently covered with bricks of silver and gold.
It was first plundered by Alexander in 335 BC and further stripped during the reigns of Antigonus (BC 325-301) and Seleucus Nicator (BC 312-280).
But when Antiochus the Great arrived at the city in 210 BC, he found columns covered with gold and silver tiles in the temple, along with gold and silver bricks.
Archeological excavations uncovered the imprints of Sassanid dynasty.

Taq-e Bostan
Continuing on the road to
Kermanshah would take the traveler to another ancient site known as Taq-e Bostan.
At this site, several Taqs (arches) are carved with detailed inscriptions commemorating a major event of the era. The largest and latest Taq was carved to celebrate the coronation of Khosro-II Parviz, also known as Khosro Parviz. In the upper section of the Taq, Khosro’s image is carved receiving his crown from Mobed-e-Mobedan (the topmost priest of his time) under the protection of the guardian angel of waters--Anahita.
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