IRANIAN ARCHAEOLOGY

ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF FRS


 

By: Prof. Dietrich Huff

 

 

 

Prehistoric period

Only a few of the countless prehistoric mounds in the mountain valleys of Frs have been investigated by archeologists; most of their activities have been concentrated on the Marvdat plain, the heartland of Frs: at Tall-e Bkn (Langsdorff and McCown), Tall-e Darvza, Tall-e Jar, Tall-e Gp, Tall-e Mok, Tall-e Teymrn, Tall-e ogh (Vanden Berghe, 1954; Sono, 1967; Nicol, 1970, pp. 19, 37; Fukai et al.; Egami et al.), Tall-e Nokhod at Pasargadae (Goff), and Tall-e Rg at Frzbd (q.v.; Stein, 1936, pp. 127 ff.). The vast ruin field at Tall-e Maln (Malyn) on the northwestern Marvdat plain is of outstanding importance, as it proved to be the site of the ancient city of Anshn (q.v.), center of the kingdom of Anshn, a component of the Elamite kingdom from the 3rd millennium B.C.E.; it encompassed approximately the same territory as the later Persian Prs. Apart from Elamite strata with monumental mud-brick architecture, excavations also revealed remains of Parthian and Sasanian occupations (Sumner; Nicholas). Traces of Elamite rock reliefs under and beside the relief of the Sasanian Bahrm II (274-93) at Naq-e Rostam on the eastern edge of the plain and the impressive adoration reliefs at Krngn high on a wall of the Fahln valley (Seidel) are the most conspicuous remains of that period in Frs; most Elamite rock reliefs are in the westernmost ranges of the Zagros (Vanden Berghe, 1983).

A characteristic group of monuments is the cairn burials, which are also found in the neighboring eastern provinces. Their abundance and distribution have not yet been fully recognized, and, as they have scarcely been studied, their ethnic and cultural-religious context is unclear. They seem to have been used or reused until Sasanian times, but opinions about their dates of origin vary from the 3rd millennium B.C.E. until the late Iron Age (Boucharlat, 1989).

 

Achaemenid period

The most striking archeological monuments not only in Frs but also in all Persia date from the Achaemenid period (559-331 B.C.E.), when the dynasty of this province ruled the most powerful empire in Persian history. Its founder, Cyrus the Great (559-30 B.C.E.), built his residence at Parsagadae, on the Morghb plain; it consisted of a fortress or palace platform now known as Takht-e Mdar-e Solaymn; an adjoining mud-brick fortification; and palace buildings set in a large, irrigated park. Cyrus' impressive freestanding tomb is located some distance to the southwest (see CYRUS v). The function of the tower-like Zendn-e Solaymn near the platform is still debated; the so-called "sacred precinct," with its two stone podiums farther west, has been tentatively identified as a place for royal fire worship (Stronach, 1978).

Darius I (q.v.; 522-486 B.C.E.) built a new residence, Persepolis, ca. 80 km southwest of Pasargadae, in the lower and more fertile Marvdat plain. The ensemble of the platform, today called Takht-e Jamd, with its ruined columned halls decorated with reliefs; the adjoining fortification; and palatial, administrative, and cult buildings below the platform represents a considerably enriched but much more concentrated variation of the layout at Pasargadae (Schmidt, I; Tilia; Tajwd). Traces of Achaemenid palaces and engineering constructions were found in and around the plain (Tilia; Kleiss), whereas few have been found in other areas of Frs, for example, at Borzjn (q.v.; Sarfaraz) and Fahln/Jn o Jn (Atarashi and Horiuchi). The Elamite site of Naq-e Rostam became a royal necropolis after Darius had created the type of the Achaemenid rock tomb, with its characteristic cross-shaped facade decorated with a standard design of reliefs. Other royal tombs were cut into Kh-e Rahmat (Schmidt, III, pp. 99 ff.; Kleiss and Calmeyer; Boucharlat, 1979). Takht-e Rostam near Naq-e Rostam seems to be a ruined copy of the tomb of Cyrus; another deteriorated replica, Gr-e Dokhtar, stands in the Bozpr (q.v.) valley south of Kzern (Stronach, 1978, pp. 300 ff.). The enigmatic Kaba-ye Zardot in front of the cliff at Naq-e Rostam is a copy of the Zendn-e Solaymn at Pasargadae; it bears the later carved trilingual inscription of pr I (240-70 C.E.; Schmidt, III, pp. 15 ff.; Back, pp. 289 ff.).

 

Post-Achaemenid and Parthian periods (331 B.C.E.-224 C.E.)

Among the rare finds of the post-Achaemenid and Parthian periods in Frs are the life-sized heads of a male statue from the Maln area (Kawami, p. 222) and a statuette of Aphrodite from Fas (Stein, p. 140); the so-called "Frataraka reliefs" from Persepolis (Schmidt, I, pp. 51, 56); and the singular rock relief at Qr (Huff, 1984). Most surviving Parthian rock sculptures have been found in the neighboring western province of ancient Elymas (Vanden Berghe and Schippmann).

Estakhr, near Naq-e Rostam, developed into the capital of Frs in this period, though excavations have not yet provided clear results (Whitcomb, 1979). Little is known about Parthian Drbgerd (see Drb ii); Fas, where late imitations of Achaemenid column bases were found (Stein, 1936, pp. 137 ff.; Hansmann; Pohanka); and Bayz (q.v.) near Maln, residence of the pre-Sasanian petty kings of Frs (Huff, 1991a). Excavations at Qasr-e Ab Nasr, ancient Shiraz, have uncovered mostly Sasanian layers (Whitcomb, 1985). A number of rock-cut chamber tombs, their facades clearly reflecting in various ways the nearby royal Achaemenid tombs, are datable before the Sasanian period: for example, those with dentate moldings at Estakhr, the higher ones at Akhor-e Rostam (von Gall), and D o Dokhtar (q.v.) near Kpn (for later examples, see below). Some of the rulers of this period left incised portraits on the walls of the "Harem" at Persepolis (Sm, tr., pp. 270 ff.; Calmeyer).

 

Sasanian period

The founder of the Sasanian empire, Ardar I (q.v.; 224-40), shifted the seat of power to the newly founded Ardar Khorra (Frzbd; qq.v.), a circular city with palaces that are still preserved. His successor, pr I, built Bpr (q.v.) as his capital; a number of monuments are preserved there. Never theless, Estakhr remained the most important city of Frs until Shiraz surpassed it after the Islamic conquest in the 7th century. Ardar's enthronement reliefs at Frzbd, Naq-e Rajab, and Naq-e Rostam were the first in a series of rock reliefs that are generally reckoned the most splendid testaments of Sasanian royal art (Schmidt, III, pp. 122 ff.; Splendeur, pp. 71 ff.). With few exceptions all are in Frs; eight are at Naq-e Rostam, most of them carved below the Achaemenid tombs (Herrmann, 1977-89) and three more at nearby Naq-e Rajab (Hinz, pp. 115 ff.). At Bpr (Herrmann, 1980-83) there are six reliefs and a larger-than-life-sized statue of pr I. Smaller groups or single reliefs are located at Drb, Sar Mahad (Trmpelmann), Gyom (Schmidt, III, p. 134), Sarb-e Bahrm, Sarb-e Qandl (Herrmann, 1983), and Barm-e Delak (q.v.; Hinz, pp. 217 ff.). All are of the early Sasanian period, before the reign of pr II (309-79). Aside from inscriptions accompanying reliefs, major Pahlavi inscriptions occur at Hjbd and Tang-e Borq (Gropp, in Hinz, pp. 229 ff.; Back, pp. 372 ff.).

The Estakhr area is the center of a diverse group of Sasanian funerary monuments. The lower rock-cut chamber tombs at Akhor-e Rostam (see above) and one at Kh-e Ayyb are probably Sasanian ossuaries (astdns, q.v.; Stronach, 1978, p. 304; Huff, 1988; idem, 1991a). Christian chamber tombs of the period are particularly frequent on Khrg island but also occur in Frs proper (Haerinck; Huff, 1989). Most niche astdns, representing a reduced type of chamber tomb, are concentrated in the mountains around Naq-e Rostam. They are dated to the late Sasanian and early Islamic periods by funerary (dakhma) inscriptions on some of the slightly decorated or undecorated facades. Identical inscriptions on rock-cut troughs, the majority in the same area, identify the latter as coffin or box astdns, more or less contemporary with the chambers and niches (Huff, 1988, pp. 164 ff.).

A number of monuments generally regarded as fire temples, like the Nrbd tower (Huff, 1975), or fire altars, like the twin monuments at Naq-e Rostam and examples at Kh-e ahrak, Darra-ye Barra (q.v.), Tang-e Karam (Vanden Berghe, 1959, pp. 24 ff.; Stronach, 1966), Qant-e Bgh, and Pangn are more probably elaborate reliquary astdns, formerly closed by vaulted or domed lids (Vanden Berghe, 1984a; Huff, 1992; idem, in press; Splendeur, pp. 60 ff.). The impressive rock-cut cemeteries of Srf are mostly of Islamic date, though excavation of a Sasanian fort at the site proves the importance of this early center of maritime trade (Whitehouse; Tampoe).

The chahrtq (q.v.), a building with a central domed square, is especially common between Drb and Bpr but also occurs as far north as Yazd-e Khst (see ARCHITECTURE iii; Schippmann, pp. 82 ff.; Vanden Berghe, 1984b). Major examples like those at Konr Sh and Tang-e Chakchak (Vanden Berghe, 1961, pp. 175 ff.) seem to have been Sasanian fire temples, but some may have been Zoroastrian sanctuaries of the Islamic period or even Islamic mausolea. The date and function of the so-called "Sasanian palace" near Sarvestn, one of the most famous monuments in Frs, are also under discussion; its layout does not correspond to that of a palace, and its advanced architectural forms and decoration seem to belong after the Sasanian period (Bier).

Among the innumerable mountain fortresses Qala-ye Dokhtar at Frzbd, the medieval Qala-ye Gabr near Fas, Qala-ye Dokhtar near Estahbnt, Qala-ye Safd near Fahln, and ahr-e j (Stein, 1936, pp. 122 ff.; idem, 1940, pp. 27 ff.) are of special historical and architectural importance.

 

 

Bibliography

(for cited works not found in this bibliography, see "Short References"):

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source/Extracted From: Encyclopaedia Iranica

 

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