History Podcasts

Temple of Anahita at Kangava, Iran

Temple of Anahita at Kangava, Iran


Anahita Temple, Kermanshah Province

It is the largest stone building in Iran after Persepolis, which is located in the city of Kangavar in Kermanshah province, on the historic Hegmataneh-Biston-Ctesiphon road. Anahita Temple in Kangavar is the most famous temple of Anahita in Iran.

Anahita Temple

History of Anahita Temple

To the ancient Iranians, Anahita was considered the guardian of water, an angel of abundance, beauty, and fertility, and enjoyed a very high status and rank. Anahita Temple was used to praising and honoring the goddess of water in ancient Iran. according to historical documents, dates back to prehistoric times.

According to historical writings and documents, it seems that the first cornerstone of this temple was built in the Achaemenid era and its construction continued until later periods and was completed during the Sassanid period. Some other researchers have introduced this building as an unfinished palace for Khosro Parviz.

Anahita Temple

There are various opinions on the architectural style of Anahita Temple by European and Iranian archaeologists. According to some European archaeologists, the Anahita monument was built in the Greek style and they believe that during the Achaemenid and Parthian rule, cultural exchanges took place between Iran and Greece, based on which Greek architectural structures were built in Iran and the city. Kangavar is also one of the cities that has been most influenced by the Greek architectural style due to its location in the border areas of western Iran.

But Iranian scholars and archaeologists reject this theory of the modeling of the architecture of the Anahita Temple from Greek architecture, arguing for differences between the styles used in the architecture of the Anahita Temple and Greek architecture

Anahita Temple

The architecture of this Temple

The Anahita Temple is based on the method of paving, which was built on the plain of Iran, and in later periods, important temple buildings and some government buildings were built on the platform, such as Persepolis.

Above this monument is a row of stone pillars. The entrance is built by a two-way staircase on the south front, which is 30 meters long. And on the northeast front, one-way stairs have made it possible to access this place.

Anahita Temple

The Temple of Anahita has no idols or statues, and only mental representations of Anahita are considered. The columns were simple, without special architectural decorations, short and thick in a row.

The rocky outcrops measured the river and led it majestically to the middle of the Anahita Temple. The type of water distribution and water flow inside the Anahita Temple is one of the engineering wonders of the time to display this sacred element in the most beautiful way possible.

The temple’s nearby mines were used to extract stone, and now the semi-carved stones between the column and the facade stones on the mine surfaces have survived.

This building is built on a natural hill with a maximum height of 32 meters relative to the surrounding land. In the northwest corner of this building, there is an Imamzadeh and a mosque.

The activity of this Temple

There are different theories about the use of this building Some believe that this building is only for hunting and entertainment, and others call it “Deskereh” and say that the kings received a few of their guests in this place, and of course, it was sometimes used for fun and hunting Like the Jabaliyah of Kerman, Haruniyeh Toos and Khajeh Rabi of Mashhad.

Due to the long history of Anahita Temple and the encounter of this huge historical monument with natural disasters or human destruction that has been done inadvertently or intentionally, this building has been severely damaged.

Other tourist attractions in Kangavar

Other tourist attractions in the historical city of Kangavar include the historical house of Sari Aslani, Judah Hill, Godin hill which is one of the first human habitats in Iran, the Kooche (alley) Bridge, Imamzadeh Mosque, Kangavar Mosque, Kangavar has some ancient beautiful bath, called Tavakkol Bath, Bozorg (Grand) Bath, Kohne Bath, etc. Also, Kangavar has beautiful and pleasant nature, which can be referred to as the village and the mirage of fash and Maran mirage.

Kangavar is the easternmost city of Kermanshah province, and if you plan to travel to Kermanshah by road and from the east and center of Iran, you will pass through this city before reaching Kermanshah so do not forget to visit Anahita Temple and the other tourist attractions of Kangavar.

Kooche (alley) bridge

Where to eat near Anahita Temple

You can go to Dure Hami restaurant to eat in Kangavar and Gap Cafe is a good choice for spending time in this city cafe.

For buying souvenirs, can also go to the historical bazaar of Kangavar.

Gowdin hill

Where to stay near Anahita Temple

To stay in Kangavar, you can use a residence, which is located in the village of Fash near Kangavar, There is also the residence of a tambourine workshop, which is one of the instruments of Kurdish folk music, which travelers can visit and spend pleasant moments.


Introduction

Very small tools have been applied on stones of various types and other inorganic natural materials for millennia to make various objects and monuments of significant dimensions and with various functions (often combined from decorative elements and artefacts) [1, 2]. This widespread using is due to different reasons, the most important of which being their availability and simple access as well as simple workability. Since the very ancient times, stone has also been used by human-beings for architectural construction due to its stability, durability and workability though its stability and durability may decrease over time because of the weathering. Weathering is a collective set of processes that lead to alteration and cause decay in stones through physical, chemical and biological factors [3, 4]. Among them one can enumerate structural properties and mineralogical composition [5,6,7], as well as environmental factors including temperature and its fluctuations, moisture and water, soluble salts, atmospheric pollutants, and biological agents (such as lichens), all capable of causing decay, leading to weathering of stones [8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18].

Decay of stones in cultural heritage buildings and monuments has been the subject of various studies world-wide. These investigations considered different aspects of stone decay in several types of stones used to construct architectural and monumental heritage, including (1) types of deteriorations, decay processes, and mechanisms took place in different stone types [19,20,21,22], (2) factors influencing the decay and its rate [23, 24], as well as (3) application of new scientific methods for the study of decay in cultural heritage monumental stone-buildings [25, 26]. It is worth noting that many studies merely cover a combination of the above subjects.

The so-called monumental/archaeological site of the Anahita Temple at Kangavar is the ruins of an important, large stone structure from the “Persian” period of Iranian history, spanning from the Achaemenid to Sasanian Empires. The monument is located along the great Khorasan road and at the centre of the modern city of Kangavar, some 90 kms east of Kermanshah in western Iran (Fig. 1a) [27, 28]. It is situated at 47° 57´E (longitudinal) and 34° 30´N (latitudinal) geographical coordinates. The monument is constructed over (and round) a natural hill with a maximum height of 32 m from the surrounding field and has a two-way staircase path (Fig. 1b–d). The Anahita Temple’s plan is a square of about 209 × 224 meters in size. The remnants of a row of large and thick stone columns are located over the northwest side of the western wall of the Temple in their original position, including three restored ones (Fig. 1d) [28, 29].

a Map of Iran and location of the Anahita Temple of Kangavar the monument is located in the Kangavar city and in Kermanshah province in western Iran. b one of the staircases forming the main entrance at the southern side of the monument c the columns and stone blocks located on the southern area of the site d the view of the western stone wall and columns of the northwest side of the monument

The main construction of the archaeological complex is a massive building formed by a large square terrace (46.8 km 2 ) constructed round a low, natural rock (hill). The terrace was filled with raw stone pieces and gypsum mortar to create a large, (semi-) natural/artificial hill—natural as it is shaped in rectangular form with stone pieces and gypsum mortar and then covered by large, carved stone blocks with smooth surfaces as a façade, above which two other floors were constructed. The stone blocks forming the surface of the building were joined together using iron clamps, a technique used previously by the Achaemenian stonemasters [30, 31].

The Anahita Temple of Kangavar is one of the best known cultural heritage monumental sites in Iran that has attracted archaeologists/researchers interests for more than 50 years. While it has been mentioned in historical texts from about 1400 years ago, the archaeological excavations were carried out by S. Kambakhshfard (1968–1975) and continued by M. Azarnoush (1977–1978) just in the last century [28, 32]. Further archaeological and conservation works were performed by A. Valinoori in 1986 and from 1988 to 2001 by A. Kabiri and M. Mehryar [33]. Based on the studies performed in the site, the monument is dated back to various periods of Iranian history (Achaemenid, Parthian and Sasanian Empires, and even up to the Early Islamic era). The findings have been dated and confirmed the fact that the complex (including the Temple and surrounding area) had been in use during these four periods [30].

Historical texts as well as on-site investigations and archaeological excavations have provided various data on the architecture, history, and function of this monument [27, 28, 30, 33,34,35,36,37]. The oldest text referred to this monument is that of Isidore of Charax (1st century BCE to 1st century AD). He attributed the monument to the Greek and Classical Konkobar Temple (Artemis Temple of Konkobar) in the western Iran during Parthian period [37, 38]. As Isidore firstly recognised the temple as that of Artemis, contemporary researchers considered it as a Temple of Anahita (an Iranian goddess), equivalent to Greek Artemis [29]. From the outset of archaeological excavations by S. Kambakhshfard in 1968, the monument was recognized as the Temple of Anahita (or Anahita Temple) and is dated to the Parthian period (3rd century BCE to 3rd century AD) [28] though some published reports are dated it to the Sasanid period as well (3rd century to the 7th century AD) [27, 35]. S. Alibaigi, contrary to S. Kambakhshfard and M. Azarnoush, asserted that the monument of Kangavar is not the Anahita Temple or an unfinished palace, but instead has probably been a palace, a residential complex, or may be a management organization from Sasanian era [27, 28, 32,33,34,35].

Foremost among environmental influences on the natural stones of Anahita Temple cultural heritage monument [39] is natural weathering due to decay. The intensity of the deterioration due to various environmental factors is clearly visible in the stone blocks. Assessing deterioration intensity and identification of decay factors are important for decision making in conservation plans of next stages of management of the site [40, 41]. For this purpose, identifying chemical compositions, microscopic observations and decay factors and patterns of the stone blocks from the Anahita Temple are necessary as part of a decay process study. Therefore, in this paper the decay process and factors affecting durability of stone blocks of the Anahita Temple of Kangavar are discussed on (on-site-) observations, laboratory and experimental studies, and finally, climatic data of the region basis. The significance of the Anahita Temple among Iranian historical monuments, the absence of an acceptable number of analytical studies on the stone monuments as well as the effect-of-decay studies on the conservation planning and decision making, are among the main reasons behind developing a study in the Anahita Temple of Kangavar. Furthermore, the study helps researchers to develop comparative studies on the deterioration process and to identify its influencing factors on the limestone cultural heritage buildings/monuments in similar environments.


Temple of Anahita at Kangava, Iran - History

Coin of Emperor Shapur II, circa 240 A.D., showing fire-altar

Zoroastrian religion is the oldest monotheistic religion in the world: its prophet, Zarathushtra or Zoroaster having lived circa seventeen century BCE.--but no one knows exactly when or where Zoroaster lived or died there are only traditions. Equally, the names of Zoroaster's contemporaries are unknown to history.

Fire is sacred to Zoroastrians. It was ranked according to its uses: that is, from the lesser fires of potters and goldsmiths, through cooking-fires and hearth-fires up to the three great eternal fires of Sasanian Persia. These fires were the Farnbag, the Gushnasp and the Burzen-Mihr flames, sacred respectively to the three classes of priests, warriors, and farmers. The Farnbag fire was at first located in Khwarism, but (according to tradition) removed to Kabulistan by Zoroaster's patron, King Vishpaspa and relocated again, circa 500 A.D., by King Khosrow to the sanctuary of Kariyan in the Persian province of Fars. The Gushnasp fire was located in the city of Shiz. The Burzen-Mihr fire appears to be of dubious location.

At the city of Baku in former Iranian province of Arran, today known as the republic of Azerbaijan, on the shore of the Caspian Sea, there was for a long time a very old fire-temple this particular fire-temple was probably older than recorded history. (Other fire-shrines dotted the whole area of Baku, which in the present day is a major petroleum source.)

According to Haxthausen (who wrote about Baku in a book published in 1863) this Atish-gah or Atish-jah--that is, the Place of Fire in Persian, 'fire-temple' is atash kuda--had been recently rebuilt: the holy flame issued from a central opening and also from four hollow pillars in the temple, which was a building of triangular form, about one hundred and ninety paces to the side, constructed by a Hindu merchant in the eighteen hundreds. He described the flame as about four feet high, bright, and a wondrous sight as it waved heavily to and fro against a dark sky - ie, the temple was unroofed.

In 1876, the English traveler James Bryce also visited the fire-temple, and remarks that its maintenance and the upkeep of the one attendant priest was paid for by the Parsee community of Bombay, whose members also visited Baku on pilgrimage.

And in 1784, by the account of George Forster of the Bengal Civil Service, the Atish-gah was a square structure about 30 yards across, surrounded by a low wall and containing many apartments, in each of which was a small jet of sulphurous fire issuing from a funnel "constructed in the shape of a Hindu altar." The fire was used for worship, cookery and warmth. On closing the funnel the fire was extinguished, at which time a hollow sound was heard accompanied by a strong and cold current of air. Exclusive of these, there was a large jet from a natural cleft, and many small jets outside the wall, one of which was used by the Hindus (of which there was a large trading community at Baku just then) for burning their dead.

The Fire-fountain of Hit

At the town of Hit or Hid, near Baghdad in what is known as Iraq, there were famous and ancient naphtha springs: the ground was yellow limestone covered with a layer of crystalized gypsum, from which issued springs with salt or bitterly sulphurous water various gases escaped in large bubbles from these springs, and bitumen flowing on the surface of the upwelling resembled dirty scum. Deposits of salt rimmed the springs. The bitumen issued from these springs with a peculiar sound, was scooped up with palm leaves, stored in large pieces, then diluted with lime and exported by boat. Harvesting bitumen was a local business. There were many pitch or bitumen springs in the vicinity, and naphtha springs as well. (That's understandable we're talking about the Persian Gulf here.)

In Assyrian times the ancient name of Hit was Id. "At Id there were the usmeta stones, and great gods spoke there also." (From the account of king Tukulti Enurta II's campaign of about 889 BC--the earliest surviving mention of Hit.) The word iddu in Babylonian meant 'bitumen spring'. The word usmeta may have meant 'hardened bitumen', or else the golden limestone of the area which was quarried near Hit.

Herodotus refers to the town of Is, eight days from Babylon past this town, he says, flowed a little river also called Is, which joins the Euphrates its waters carried bitumen such as was used in building the fortifications of Babylon. Isidore of Charax mentions Hit as the waystation of Ispolis Ptolemy's Geography calls it the town of Idikara (presumably from id and kara, respectively the Babylonian and Aramaic-Arabic words for bitumen). At the time of Xenophon, Hit was known as Diacira, from Du Kir, meaning 'giving bitumen' - another ancient name for the town.

(All of the following accounts come from Professor A. V. Williams Jackson, a scholar of Indo-Iranian languages who traveled through Persia in the year 1906.)

The Ash-hills at Urumiah

At Lake Urumiah in Azarbaijan province, a former center of the Zoroastrian faith, there are as many as sixty-four large hills scattered around the lake, each hill being composed of ashes mixed with earth. Each hill is built up on a small natural elevation, and each is supposed to have been formed from the heaped-up ashes of a fire-shrine. None of the fire-shrines remain there are only the ash-hills. A dozen mounds are in the immediate vicinity of the city of Urumiah, and Professor Jackson examined them in 1906. They were called 'hills of the Fire-worshipers' by the local people. (The original meaning of the name Azerbaijan is something close to 'place of the holy flame'.)

The hill of Degalah, close to the city, was one such ash-hill. It was three or four hundred yards long, nearly as broad, and a hundred feet high . . . and easy to examine, since it had been excavated all over by the neighboring farmers, who had lately taken to using the ashes to fertilize their fields and make saltpetre with. (Apparently many similar ash-hills near other Persian cities had already vanished, dug away for fertilizer.) Professor Jackson thought at first that the hill was made of soft earth with many strata of solid ash, each several feet thick but on close examination he decided it was clay, with ashes mixed in. He was informed that within local memory, stone buildings had stood on the hill, but they had all been pulled down to build the local village (whose name was also Degalah).

A foundation-wall of burnt brick had been found near the bottom of the hill the bricks were about six inches thick by eighteen to twenty-four inches long, this shape being typical of the old fire-temples investigated by the professor. Also found in the ashes were thousands of fragments of pottery, terra-cotta figurines, and coins. Some of the pots had figures of men and horses drawn on them. There were some large jars Professor Jackson himself examined a shattered amphora found twenty-feet down a shaft in the hill. It had been buried upright and there were pieces of bone and grains of parched corn in the debris around it, as well as a great deal of ashes. He writes he could not find anyone who had found any inscribed tablets or cylinders in the excavations, though.

Another hill named Lakki was located seventeen miles north of Urumiah it too was made of ash.

Another hill called Termani was six miles east of Lakki. This mound was fairly intact, shaped like a cone, and the outline of an old building's foundation could be traced on the ground nearby. What stones remained from this building were large enough to make the villagers wonder how they could have been moved into place. They remarked that in the 1880's, a well had been sunk into the hill and a large image found buried in the ashes afterward the local Muslims destroyed this statue, since idol-making is forbidden by the Koran. The ground around was strewn with potsherds.

Another hill named Ahmat was just southeast of Termani. Large urns were found in this hill, and human skeletons were found in the urns. The local farmers also found graves with stone slabs over them, buried in the ashes.

Yet another hill, named Geog Tapah (or Gog Tepe) was east-southeast of Urumiah. A large Nestorian church crowned the summit. When the workmen were excavating the foundations of the church, they came across an underground chamber built of stone, containing a carved hollow cylinder three or four inches high. They filled in the chamber (to make the church foundations more secure) and the cylinder, at the turn of the century, was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This cylinder is shaped like a large napkin-ring of translucent alabastar. Professor Jackson examined it in New York, and describes it: "The design of the carvings, in the opinion of this authority, is archaic Babylonian <showing> the sun-god, Shamash, emerging from the portals of the east and accompanied by other divine personages. The god . carries a club on his right shoulder and holds a weapon in his left hand . Two bearded porters, with flowing hair and wearing low double-horned caps, fling open the gates through which the god advances. Behind the left-hand gate-keeper stands the demigod, Ea-bani, half man, half bull, facing full front and holding in his two hands a standard. Behind him again are three figures, on the other side of the cylinder, approaching the sun-god. The first of these is a man the second a woman in a flounced robe . the third, a bearded divine figure clothed in a long skirted mantle." Also found in this hill were large earthen jars containing bones (ie urn-burials) and two skulls with brass nails driven into the ears (ie the skulls of two people who had been executed?).

In the vicinity of Sain Kalah there was reported to be a mound of ashes, the remains of an ancient fire-temple. (This was apparently mentioned or described in Bishop, Journeys in Persia, vol 2 197.) This is on the road from Urumiah, crossing a high pass through the Mian Bulagh mountains to Sanjud, and just beyond the Jagati river.

The Gushnasp fire at Shiz (and the Sovar fire at Tus)

There was a defunct fire-temple at Takht-i Suleiman (the Throne of Solomon) a ruined city near Mount Zindan, 'Solomon's Dungeon.' These ruins are about ninety miles from Lake Urumiah. Mount Zindan itself is a volcano, with a crater at the peak and a long volcanic ridge extending two or three miles from the peak. The volcano was extinct, but blasts of fetid air apparently steamed from the ground of this ridge, and there were a score of tiny warm springs bubbling up from miniature craters. Professor Jackson and his party rode up the ridge to the volcanic cone, which was called Solomon's Prison Height Jackson climbed right up to the summit (about 45 feet above the plain) and tossed a stone into the funnel of the crater. The rim of the crater itself was about 300 feet in circumference. Just north of Mount Zindan is the mountain Takht-i Bilkis, 'Throne of the Queen of Sheba' on its summit, legends say, King Solomon built a summer palace for his beloved. To the east are lower ridges, but they form a huge cauldron rimming the plain, from which rises a low hill crowned with the fortified ruins of Takht-i Suleiman.

From Professor Jackson's account, the ruined city itself was surrounded by massive ramparts, between thirty and forty feet high there were once four huge gateways roughly aligned to the cardinal points. The walls enclosed an oblong shape about three-quarters of a mile around. Inside the walls were a number of buildings, including the abandoned fire-temple.

This fire-temple was called a bath-house by the locals, who know (of course) very little about fire-temples. It was an arched and vaulted building with a dome, partly sunk below the ground, and made from bricks nearly a foot square (as Professor Jackson found true of other ruined fire-temples he examined). There were two arched portals, through which one descended to the vaulted brick chamber below the walls were four or five feet thick inside the chamber were arched wall-recesses. The interior had the air of a place built for the preservation of precious treasure.

In Professor Jackson's opinion, these ruins were the ancient city of Shiz (as named by Arab writers) and also the Gazna or Ganzah of the Persians, the Gazaka or Canzaca of classical writers and the city of Ganjak named in the Pahlavi texts. If the city was Shiz, then the fire-temple housed the holy flame named Adhargushnasp or Gushnasp. Shiz was described as containing within its walls a lake which calcified all objects that were thrown into it Jackson describes such a lake inside the walls of Takht-i Suleiman.

Shiz was also supposedly the birthplace of Zarathustra.

The city of Shiz was supposedly built by the legendary Persian king Kei Khosru. Various Arab and Persian geographers all mention the city and its fire-temple, Adharjushnas. Al-Hamadhani (writing about AD 910) adds that the fire of Adharjushnas or Adhargushnasp belonged to Kei Khosru and was originally located elsewhere in Azarbaijan, but was removed to Shiz.

One Masudi (died AD 951) wrote an account of various fire-temples titled Meadows of Gold. He mentions Shiz: "A fourth fire-temple is found in the country of Shiz and Arran it was originally consecrated to those idols which Anushirvan destroyed. Others say that Annushirvan, having found in this temple an altar on which the sacred fire was burning, transported it to a place called al-Birkah ('the basin' near Shiraz). The <ancient Keianian> king Kei Khosru built a temple which was known under the name of Kusujah <ie Ganjah>.

The fire itself, Gushnasp or Ataro-gushnasp, was the subject of legends. It was regarded as a holy aura or numinous being: it was the triumphant fire Ataro-gushnasp, which aided Kei Koshru while he was engaged in putting down idol-worship around Lake Chechast according to Zoroastrian tradition this occurred about 800 BC. The holy fire settled on the mane of Kei Koshru's horse and drove away all darkness and gloom, so that the idol-temples could be destroyed. In the same locale as the extirpated idol-temples, Gushnasp was then established at an appointed shrine on Asnavand mountain , near Lake Chechast from which blew warm winds which defeated demons.

Also established near Lake Chechast was a second fire, Sovar, near a place called Tus.

Finally, one of the Byzantine church fathers, Georgius Cedrenus, describes the destruction of Shiz circa AD 1100, by the emperor Heraclius during his war against the later Sasanian king Khosru Parviz (King Chosres): "The Emperor Heraclius took possession of the city of Gazaca, in which was the temple and the treasures of Croesus, king of Lydia, and the imposture of the burning coals. On entering the city he found the abominable image of Khosru, an effigy of the king seated under the vaulted roof of the palace as though in the heavens, and around it the sun, moon, and stars, to which he did homage with superstitious awe, as if to gods, and he had represented angles bearing sceptres and ministering unto him. And the impious man had arranged by cunning devices to have drops falling from above, like rain, and sounds resembling roaring thunder to peal forth. All these things Heraclius consumed with fire, and burned both the Temple of Fire and the entire city."

There was a fire-temple at Kemish, near the rock carvings of Taki Dostan both are close to the city of Kermanshaw, which is at Lat. 34 degrees 26' N. (This is also near Hamadan, the site of the ancient palace of Ecbatana.) More rock carvings are at Besittoon.

Temple of Anahita at Kangavar

There was a more modern fire-temple dedicated to the goddess Anahita at Kangavar (a small but very old town, lying directly on the route between Bisitun and Hamadan or Ecbatana). Kangavar was mentioned by the Greek geographer Isidor of Charax in the first century AD, under the name of Konkobar its name may be derived from the Avestan *Kanha-vara, 'enclosure of Kanha'. In 190, the town was surrounded by mounds and low hills, some of them capped with buildings erected on the foundations of older buildings. There was a modern brick citadel and one or two mosques. But near the heart of the town (on the main road, close to a large caravanserai) were more interesting remains: the ruins of a wall of white marble blocks of mammoth size, hewn with precision, crowned by broken columns and pilasters the whole formed the outline of a grand enclosure of buildings erected in Greek style.

In the enclosure were two large buildings, one to the northwest lying directly on the main street, and the second some distance southeast on the edge of a slope or hollow. The Arab geographer Yakut wrote of Kangavar in 1220 he says the place was the haunt of bandits, locally called either Kasr-i Shirin, 'castle of Shirin' after Khosru's favorite wife, or more often Kasr al-Lasus, the 'Robber Castle'. He wrote: "The Robber Castle is a very remarkable monument, and there is a platform some twenty cubits above the ground and on it there are vast portals, palaces, and pavilions, remarkable for their solidity and their beauty."

In the nineteenth 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 square, crowned with a colonnade. Professor Jackson in 1906 found one very well-preserved retaining wall at the NW corner of the enclosure, probably part of the foundation of a single building it was 12 to 15 feet high and runs north and south for more than 70 feet. At right angles eastward from this extended the north wall of the temple, equally massive, built of granite blocks some of which were more than 7 feet long and 4 feet high - this north wall was partially buried in debris and hard to investigate. These walls were capped with a heavy coping, which seemed to have supported a colonnade of pillars in the Greek style. Three columns were still standing when Jackson saw them, on the cornice of the NW wall they were each about 6 feet in diameter and had been preserved by being built right into the side wall of a modern building. A fourth broken column stood alone at the corner where the north-south retaining wall met the east-west retaining wall. (Ker Porter in 1818 recorded eight intact columns.) Jackson found a jumble of immense blocks in the SE corner of the ruins, and traced the general outline of a wall running about 100 feet north-south. In his opinion, this was all that remained of the ancient Temple of Anahita.

A temple of Anahita is not a fire-temple per se, but it was Zoroastrian (Anahita being one of Ahuramazda's good angels) and was probably far more lavishly appointed than a normal fire-shrine. According to classic historians, for example, the temple of Anahita at Ecbatana was a vast palace, four-fifths of a mile (ie seven stades) in circumference, built of cedar or cypress. In all of it, not a single plank or column stood but was covered by plates of silver or gold. Every tile of the floors was made of silver, and the whole building was apparently faced with bricks of silver and gold. It was first plundered by Alexander in 335 BC, then 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 piled up in the temple, along with gold and silver bricks. From these he struck coinage amounting to about four thousand talents' worth.

At the city of Isfahan was a deserted but largely intact fire-temple, locally known as the Atash Kadah or Atash Gah. This deserted shrine stood atop of a hill which rises about 700 feet sharply above the plain, at a distance of perhaps 3 miles from Isfahan. One ascended the hill by a winding path with a series of natural stone steps. The ruined temple was on the very crest of the hill it was about 14 feet high and 15 feet in diameter, octagonal in form, and composed of large unburnt bricks. The roof was once domed, but most of it had collapsed by the time that Professor Jackson visited it. In the walls were eight doorways looking out toward different points of the compass that is, this building had eight sides, in each of which was a door. Brick and stucco columns framed the doorways and supported the roof, giving a pillared effect. There was no artificial foundation beneath the temple its floor was living rock, evidently unsmoothed, since Jackson remarked that part of it thrust itself upward into the middle of the shrine.

Over the inner side of each doorway was a sunken niche, whose lines curved up to give an arched appearance to the doors. Traces of brownish plaster clung in these niches, but no clue to the original finish of the walls remained. There were no inscriptions, just a few graffiti of modern Persian names scrawled in corners. The sanctuary floor was 13 feet 6 inches in diameter, almost circular in shape, and in the center of it was a curved outline, probably of the mortar base upon which a fire-altar rested. There were ashes in the debris.

Other ruined buildings stood on the same hill, surrounding the shrine at the summit. These stand a little below the shrine and probably formed a temple precinct. Jackson wrote "The design and arrangement reminded me of the ruined sanctuary of fire which I noticed near Abarkuh on my journey to Yezd." He also described a series of arched recesses or cells inset in the slope of the hill itself, partly constructed of sun-dried bricks.

Arab geographers called this place the fire-temple of Marabin or Maras. Masudi in Meadows of Gold said the temple was originally devoted to idol-worship (that is, worship of the sun, moon and five principal stars) and it was made into a fire-temple by King Vishtaspa, Zoroaster's original patron.

Near the city of Shiraz, outside the city's Allahu Akbar Gate and in the vicinity of the grave of the poet Saadi (who wrote the Gulistan) are hills where lie a ruined fortress or castle, probably Sasanian its name was Bandar's Fortress. West of this was a large hollow in the rock of a hill, partly artificial and partly natural its origin and purpose are unknown. Its name was the Kahvarah-i Div, Cradle of the Demon. Also near the castle were two very deep wells, one called Ali's Well and supposedly the site of an old fire-temple. This, Ali's Well, was a pool at the bottom of a series of steps, surmounted by a building which gaves the well a holy air according to legend, the water sprang up and quenched the flame of Zoroaster when the true faith of Mohammed came into Persia. Professor Jackson wrote that local people also pointed out to him the ruins of an ancient fire-temple on a hill overlooking the city.

Professor Jackson seems to have been an eccentric authority, though on his travels through Asia--and he was an authority on Zoroastrianism, interested in nothing but fire-temples--he passed through Baku but completely missed the fire-springs there. At several cities, he mentioned being pointed toward fire-temples by the locals, but for some reason he never visited these temples himself. He mentions images of fire-altars on ancient Parthian coins, a strange mistake since there are no fire-altars pictured on Parthian coinage--only on Sasanian coins, alas! Also, he carefully photographed Bactrian camels for posterity . . . and called them dromedaries. However he can presumably be trusted on what he saw with his own eyes, provided it did not involve the animal kingdom.

Fire of Nimrud, at Abarkuh

Outside the city of Abarkuh, on an elevation at the side of the road stood two buildings, ruined edifices of mud and sun-dried bricks. Both were evidently temples. One closely resembled the Shrine of Fire near Isfahan. Large heaps of ashes (like those at Urumiah) had also been found in this vicinity, and were commented on by Arab writers as early as the tenth century at that time the people of Abarkuh called these the ashes of the fires of Nimrod, into which Abraham was thrown. (A nice theory, but according to the Bible, Abraham never got near the place. But that's folklore for you.) By the twelfth century, Abarkuh was calling itself the city of Abraham, and local superstition claimed that rain never fell within the city walls, owing to the prayers of Abraham and cattle were never raised by the city's farmers, because Abraham had once forbidden it.

Another legend claimed that Sudabah, daughter of Tubba and wife of Kei Kaus, fell in love with her husband's son Kei Khosru (ie Siavash in the Avesta?) and tried to seduce him. When he rejected her, she told his father he had tried to dishonor her, which was a lie. Then Kei Khosru built a large fire at Abarkuh and said if he was innocent the fire could not burn him, but if he was guilty he would surely burn he walked right through the flames and was not scorched, thereby disproving all Sudabah's accusations. The ashes of this fire formed a vast hill, which came to be called the Mountain of Abraham.

Fire of Victory, at Yazd

In the city of Yazd, in 1906, there was a large Zoroastrian colony with four living fire-temples, besides smaller fire-shrines in Zoroastrian villages spread around the city. The major temple was the Atash-i Varahran or Atash Bahram, 'Fire of Victory'. The three minor temples were designated either as Dari-i Mihr or Adarian.

Esfendiar's temple, Ardistan

At the city of Ardistan, there was a fire-temple supposedly founded by Esfendiar (the son of King Vishtaspa).

Shrine of Zoroaster, at the Nqsh-e Rustam

Two fire-altars are carved in the stone by the tombs of the Achaemenian emperors, at Naqsh-i Rustam. This site is near the ruined city of Stakhra, forty miles south of Persepolis. Here, cut into a cliff face, are the tombs of four succeeding kings: Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes I, and Darius II. About five miles south is a great platform which once housed the royal palaces, plus three other Achaemenian tombs of somewhat later date. At the foot of the cliff are seven panels depicting Sasanian kings--five showing scenes of battle on horseback or kings mounted receiving tribute, from which the site was mistakenly named Naqsh-i Rustam, Rustam's Horse.

Opposite the fourth tomb is a square building dating back to Achaemenian times, called Ka'bah-i Zardusht, the Shrine of Zoroaster. By its resemblance to fire-temples at Naubandajan (near Fasa below Fahliyan in Farsistan - the modern Fars province of Iran) and Firuzabad--and to representations of fire-shrines on coins of the Parthian dynasty--this building was a fire-temple. Professor Jackson's book shows a picture of this shrine. It is a building of large stones or bricks (to a modern eye they look like masonry blocks) square in shape, with a flat roof. In one of the two visible walls is a doorway with uneven sides. In the second wall are three sets of two parallel niches which look like the windows in a three-storey building but Jackson says they are not windows, merely blank spaces. There is no smoke-vent.

The two nearby fire-altars stand close together at the lower end of the bluff. They appear to be carved out of the living rock, and look rather like squat chess-castles, about four feet tall, with vaguely crenelated-looking tops. They are very much like the fire-altar shown on the Shapir II coin.

Solomon's Prison, near the Tomb of Cyrus the Great

Here we have a small conflict of opinion. At Pasargadae, the site of the tomb of Cyrus the Great, is a stone platform which was evidently the foundation of a palace's audience-hall it is outlined in immense blocks of masonry, over 250 feet long and 50 feet broad. The local people call it Takht-i Suleiman--ie, yet another Solomon's Throne. Many other ruins are scattered over the vicinity.

According to Professor Jackson, near Solomon's Throne is a single remaining wall from a square stone building, which is called Solomon's Prison, Zindan-i Suleiman. He claims that his fellow scholars agreed with him that this building was a fire-temple.

He examined the site. According to later experts, this building--the Prison of Solomon--is almost identical to the Ka'bah-i Zardusht near Darius' tomb. Both are described as high towers with three rows of false windows and a single interior room, and apparently this chamber is also very high up and access is by way of a grand staircase. Jackson thought they were fire-temples, and explains away the lack of windows or smoke-vents by claiming the magi would burn relatively smokeless fuel in their holy fires, since they considered smoke unclean anyway. More recently, the two buildings were thought to be tombs, or perhaps to have been used for special rituals in the initiation and coronation of kings.

Fire-altar on reverse of coin of King Ardashir I, circa 226 A.D.

"After stumbling through the black naphtha mud . . . a hole roughly broken in a modern wall gives entry to a small chamber, twenty feet by fifteen, adjoining which is a smaller one to the right. In the opposite wall and to the left is another low door opening onto a semi-circular yard, fifteen feet wide at its greater diameter. It is the remaining half of a once celebrated fire temple, or rather of the small monastery connected with it. The exterior wall, eleven or twelve feet high, on which is a parapeted walk, is composed of rough stone. From the courtyard one can enter thirty-five roomy cells, accessible by as many doors. These were the cells of the former devotees of fire, or perhaps the accommodation for the pilgrims who came to visit the shrine, such as we see at celebrated religious tombs in Persia today. These cells formerly enclosed a circular space, one-half of which has been demolished or has fallen to ruin, and a modern wall through which one enters is the diameter of the circle. Looking northward, and supported by three double sets of pillars, is the ancient chief entrance, above which the parapet walk is continued. This entrance has been long walled up, and the only access is given by the hole broken in the modern wall behind. The cells formerly occupied by the monks or pilgrims are now rented at a moderate price to some of the workmen who belong to the factories immediately surrounding, by the priest, the last of his race, who still lingers beside his unfrequented altars. Near the western wall of the semi-circular enclosure is the real fire shrine. It is a square platform, ascended by three steps, of a little over one foot each in height. The upper portion of the platform is about sixteen feet square, and at each angle rises a monolith column of grey stone, some sixteen feet high and seven feet broad at the base, supporting a gently sloping stone roof. In the centre of the platform is a small iron tube, where the sacred fire once burned. North, south, and east of this shed-like temple are three wells with slightly raised borders, the contents of which could at a previous period be lighted at will. Now, owing to the drain on the subterranean gases, this is no longer possible . . . The priest is called for. He is the same we have seen lounging meditatively in the gardens of Baku. He dons a long white robe, taken from a rude cupboard in the white-washed wall, and, drawing near a kind of wide altar tomb at the south-western corner of the chamber, railed off from the outer portion of the apartment by a low wooden balustrade, applies a lighted match, which he has previously produced, rising to the height of eight inches or a foot. Seizing the rope of a bell hung over his head, he rings a half dozen strokes upon it, then takes in his hand a small bells, and ringing it continually, proceeds to bow and genuflect before the altar, 'muttering o'er his mystic spells.' The lights wane gradually, and go out."

Extracted From/Source: Trivial Pursuits

Please note: CAIS has the privilege to publish the above article originating from the above-mentioned source , for educational purposes only (Read Only) . This article has been published in accordance with the author(s) / source' copyright-policy -- therefore, the ownership and copyright of this page-file remain with the author(s) / source . For any other purposes, you must obtain a written permission from the copyright owner concerned . (Please refer to CAIS Copyright Policy).

Encyclopaedia Iranica

The British Institute of Persian Studies

Please use your "Back" button (top left) to return to the previous page


Temple of Anahita at Kangava, Iran - History

The Anahita Temple is the name of one of two archaeological sites in Iran popularly thought to have been attributed to the ancient deity Anahita. The larger and more widely known of the two is located at Kangavarin Kermanshah Province. The other is located at Bishapur.


click on images to see high resolution

The remains at Kangavar reveal an edifice that is Hellenistic in character, and yet display Persian architectural designs. The plinth's enormous dimensions for example, which measure just over 200m on a side, and its megalithic foundations, which echo Achaemenid stone platforms, "constitute Persian elements". This is thought to be corroborated by the "two lateral stairways that ascend the massive stone platform recalling Achaemenid traditions", particularly that of the Apadana Palace at Persepolis.

Another Iranian construction with Hellenistic characteristics is the Khurra mausoleum in Markazi Province.

Dispute exists among scholars on the correct identity of the main structure at the site. The Encyclopaedia Iranica in this regard concludes: "Until detailed further excavations are carried out, no definite judgments may be declared on the function of Kangavar platform" (read more on wikipedia)


The Temple of Anahita

Next to the Azargoshasb Fire Temple, in the Takht-e Soleyman Complex, you can find the Temple of Anahita. By observing the lake in the complex, having a temple for the divinity of water in Persian Mythology is not a surprise. Although Zoroastrians were monotheistic, they believed in different deities that had the power to help them with different situations.

Also, having both fire and water as two vital elements of Zoroastrians together could make power and good energy. Therefore, Zoroastrians believed that the Takht-e Soleyman complex is a perfect place for chanting prayers.


The History of Anahita Temple

Ancient Persians believed that Anahita, the Goddess of Water, was the guardian angel of springs and water and a symbol of fertility, friendship and love, so they built this temple to honour and respect her.

This structure was used as a fire temple but after the advent of Islam in Iran, it changed a lot so there are some obscurities about its function, history and architecture. The temple’s building has been divided into three periods of Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanid, although some believe that this monument was an unfinished palace of Khosrow Parviz, a king in late Sassanid Empire.


First Iranian Goddess of Productivity and Values

A myth (in Persian: Afssaaneh or Osstureh) is an ancient story or set of stories, especially explaining in a literary way the early history of a group of people or about natural events and facts. These stories usually deal with mythical creatures or heroes which are imaginary or not real. Most of the times, a myth relates the events, conditions, and deeds of gods and goddesses or superhuman beings that are outside ordinary human life and yet basic to it. These events are set in a time altogether different from historical time, often at the beginning of creation or at an early stage of prehistory. A culture’s myth is usually closely related to its religious beliefs and rituals. One of the famous myths in Iranian culture is considered to be the Myth of ANAHITA who is also known as the first Iranian Goddess (in Persian: Nakhosteen Khodda Zan-e-Iran). In this article the precedent for early worship in Iran, various names and meanings of ANAHITA, mythological and the historical aspects of ANAHITA, the First Iranian Goddess of Productivity and Values, are studied and discussed.

EARLY WORSHIP IN IRAN:
In studying the ancient religions of the peoples of the Iranian plateau, researchers documented that a powerful sacred group, the Magi (in Persian: Magh-haa), dominated the Median Dynasty or Medes (728-550 BC) and Achaemenid Dynasty or Persian Empire (550-330 BC). According to Greek historian Herodotus, the Magi (the plural of Magus) were the sacred sects of the Medes. But their power was curtailed by Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, and by his son Cambyses II. Then the Magi revolted against Cambyses II and set up a rival claimant to the throne, one of their own, who took the name of Smerdis. The Persians under Darius I (521-486 BC) defeated Smerdis and his forces. The sects of the Magi continued in Persia, though their influence was limited after that political setback. During the Classical era (555 BC to AD 300), some Magi remained in Iran, and some migrated westward, settling in Greece, and then in Rome, Italy.

The Magi were responsible for chanting accounts of the origin and descent of the gods and the goddesses in pre-Zoroastrian times. The chief god of the pre-Zoroastrian era was AHURA MAZDA, the creator of the universe and the one who maintains the cosmic and social order. MITHRA was the second most important deity. Other major deities included ANAHITA, the goddess of productivity and values RASHNU, the god of justice and astral deities such as TISHTRYA or Tistriyn, identified with the star Sirius. Until the reign of Achaemenian Artaxerxes II (ruled 404-358 BC), the ancient Iranians did not use to build temples or make images of their gods and goddesses, and they preferred to worship in the open. The central ritual consisted of a festive meal at which the worshipers made animal sacrifices and invited the deity to attend as a guest. Fire was regarded as a sacred element. The sacred drink named Hauma, which contained a mind-altering medicine, was used to inspire worshipers with insight into truth (in Persian: Raasti) and to stimulate warriors (in Persian: Delavaraan or Razmandeggaan) going into battle. The name of the drink was possibly derived from HAOMA or Homa that was the lord of all medicinal plants in the ancient Iranian mythology.

NAME OF ANAHITA IN DIFFERENT CULTURES:
In Persian culture, the myth is called as Anahita, Anahit, Anahiti, and Ardvi Sura Anahita. In Modern Persian, it is called as Nahid (spelled also as Naheed), which is the name of planet Venus. In Greek culture, it is called as Anahitis. The Greeks also associated Anahitis with either Athena or Aphrodite. It should be noted that there is a complete distinction between the Persian Myth of Anahita and Anat or Anath. In contrary to Anahita, Anat or Anath was a goddess of the Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Egyptians, which was regarded as the goddess of war and violence. The Egyptians usually depicted Anat carrying a spear, axe and shield, and wearing a tall crown surmounted by two ostrich feathers.

VARIOUS MEANINGS OF ANAHITA:
Here is the list of the various meanings of Anahita as reported by different groups of researchers: productivity (in Persian: Faraavaresh or Soodmandi), values (Arzesh-haa), fertility (Baarvari), immaculate (Biggonaah-o-Moghadass), perfect (Dorost-o-Tamaam-Ayaar), water (Aab), plants and green (Nabaat-o-Sabz), clean (Paak), untainted (Bi-aib), innocent (Biggonaah-o-Mobaraa), benefactor (Niko-Kaar), patroness or supporter of females (Poshtibaan-e-Zanaan), and pure (Naab-o-Sareh).

THE MYTHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF ANAHITA:
Anahita was and still is regarded as an ancient Persian Myth. She embodied the physical and metaphorical qualities of water, especially the productive flow of water from the fountain in the stars. She also ruled semen and human fertility. She was viewed as the “Golden Mother”, “Goddess of Productivity”, and as a “Warrior Maiden”. She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the “Water of Birth”. Though Anahita as a myth is originally considered as an ancient Persian Myth, some authors have also reported that she may have been a direct borrowing from the Near East, or may have acquired Near Eastern characteristics from a confrontation between Iranian and Mesopotomian cultures. However, there is no reliable evidence to support those reports. Anahita is usually portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher). The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals. Anahita is also represented dressed in gleaming gold with a crown and jewels. Anahita is often shown wearing a golden kerchief, square gold earrings, and a jeweled diadem, and wrapped in a golden-embroidered cloak adorned with thirty otter skins. (Otter is a four-legged mammal with short brown fur, which swims well and eats fish). Anahita is also portrayed and honored with offerings of green branches and white heifers. And she is sometimes depicted as driving a chariot drawn by four white horses, representing Wind, Rain, Clouds, and Hail. (A chariot was a two wheeled vehicle used in ancient times for racing and fighting and a horse used to pull it).

THE HISTORICAL ASPECTS OF ANAHITA:
The first Iranian goddess of productivity, and values, ANAHITA, was widely worshiped in ACHAEMENIAN TIMES. Achaemenian Artaxerxus II who reigned from 404 Bc to 358 BC ordered that images of Anahita should be erected in all the principal cities of the Persian Empire. It is documented that many temples were also built in her honor in Susa or Shoosh (the first Iranian federal capital), Ecbatana (city of Hamadaan located 400 km southwest of Tehran in present-day Iran), and in Babylon (about 110 km south of Baghdad in present-day Iraq). Later, Anahita was widely worshiped in various parts of Armenia, Asia Minor and the West. Armenians called out to Anahita as the “Great Lady Anahita, Nation Glory and Life-Giver, Mother of Sobriety, and Benefactor of Humanity”.
Anahita is not present in the earliest parts of the AVESTA her cult would have been alien or unfamiliar to the Henotheistic Spirit (the devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of other gods) of the Zarathushtra presented in the GATHAS. By the later AVESTIC PERIOD (from about 553 BC to about AD 200) and onward, however, more lenient Zoroastrian Clergies (in Persian: Moabedaan-e-Zartoshti) had adapted the goddess to the new religion. The fifth Yasht, the “Hymn to the Water”, praises Anahita as one “who hates the gods of Daevas (in Persian: Deev-haa) or the enemies of true religion and obeys the laws of Ahura”. By the HELLENISTIC era (330-310 BC), if not before, Anahita’s cult came to be closely associated with that of MITHRA.

The ANAHITA TEMPLES have been built in many Iranian cities like Kangavar, Bishapur ( an ancient city in south of present-day Faliyan) and other places during different eras. An inscription from 200 BC dedicates a SELEUCID temple in western Iran to “Anahita, as the Immaculate Virgin Mother of the Lord Mithra”. The ANAHITA TEMPLE at Kangavar city of Kermanshah (a western province in present-day Iran) is possibly the most important one. It is speculated that the architectural structure of this temple is a combination of the Greek and Persian styles and some researchers suggest that the temple is related to a girl named Anahita, the daughter of Din Mehr, who enjoyed a very high status with the ancient Iranians.

TODAY, DIFFERENT CONSTRUCTIONS (HOUSES, STORES, STREETS, ETC) HAVE BEEN BUILT ON THE SURFACE OF THIS VALUABLE HISTORICAL SITE, AND ONLY A PART OF THE TEMPLE HAS REMAINED INTACT BECAUSE IT NEIGBORS THE MOSQUE OF IMAMZADEH (IN PERSIAN: MASJED-E-EMAAMZAADEH).

Epilogues (Posted July 2012)
1. Anahita is the Old Persian form of the name of an Iranian goddess and appears in complete and earlier form as Aredvi Sura Anahita (Arədvī Sūrā Anāhitā) the Avestan language name of an Indo-Iranian cosmological figure venerated as the divinity of ‘the Waters’ (Aban) and hence associated with fertility, healing and wisdom. Aredvi Sura Anahita is Ardwisur Anahid or Nahid in Middle- and Modern Persian, Anahit in Armenian. The Armenian cult of Anahit, as well as the pre-Christian Armenian religion in general, was very closely connected to Persian Zoroastrianism. In present-day Armenia, it is remembered as part of the historical mythological heritage of the nation, and the name Anahid is a popular female given name. In 1997, the Central Bank of Armenia issued a commemorative gold coin with an image of the divinity Anahit on the obverse (View here).
2. The Anahita Temple is the name of one of two archaeological sites in Iran popularly thought to have been attributed to the ancient deity Anahita. The larger and more widely known of the two is located at Kangāvar in Kermanshah Province. The other is located at Bishapur, an ancient city situated south of modern Faliyan in Iran on the ancient road between Persis and Elam (View here 1 and 2).
3. Another temple of Anahita can be also found in at he village of Khanaman in Rafsanjan, Iran. Rafsanjan, also known as Bahrāmābād, is a city in Kerman Province, Iran. (View here).
4. In his poem of “My Iran”, this author referred to the Temple of Anahita in Kangaver as one of the places that he loves most in Iran (View here). Here is also a Persian poem about Anahita (What A Bird Sings/ Parandeh Cheh Mikhaanad) composed by this author

REFERENCES
Frye, R. N. (1963): The Heritage of Persia: The pre-Islamic History of One of the World’s Great Civilizations, ed., The World Publishing Company, New York.
Frye, R. N. (1993): The Golden Age of Persia, ed., Weidenfeld, London.
Nazmi Afshar, M. S. (2005): Online Article on “Anahita, the Mother of Gods, Iran the cradle of the early gods”.
Saadat Noury, M. (2005): Various Articles on Persian Culture and the History of Iran.
Various Sources (2005): Notes & Articles on Anahita.
Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2005): Online Notes on Anahita (in English & Persian).


Anahita Temple, the Largest Historical & Ancient Pre-Christendom Monument

After the ancient monuments of Persepolis, Anahita Temple of Kangavar is the largest stone building of ancient Iran. Documents derived from archaeological findings have linked the Anahita Temple to the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sassanid periods.

The historical area of Anahita Temple is located on Hamedan-Kermanshah road, overlooking Kangavar Plain. Archaeologists have studied the area to determine who ordered the construction of such a huge monument.

Seyfollah Kambakhsh, an Iranian archeologist, estimates that Anahita Temple dates back to the Achaemenid, Sassanid, and Parthian periods. On the other hand, Massoud Azarnoush, another Iranian archaeologist, believes that the construction of this monument relates to the rule of Khosrow Parviz.

Unfortunately, natural disasters over time have changed the appearance of the Anahita Temple and destroyed many parts of it. The remains of this ancient monument show that the architects built the temple on a mound with a height of 32 meters higher than the grounds adjacent to it.

The aerial map of Anahita Temple shows that it is a large rectangular temple with dimensions of 209 X 242 meters. There are giant boulders used in the construction of temple walls and columns.

Architects have used stone, gypsum, and lime to build this mesmerizing ancient monument. They have decorated the facade of the walls and stone columns with carved designs. The presence of several stairs on the southern, western and eastern parts of this huge monument has created an eye-catching effect.

The European archaeologists who have studied about Anahita Temple believe that the architecture of the temple is based on the Greek architectural style.

Among the many archaeological opinions and assumptions about the Kangavar Monument, the opinion of Ardeshir Hadadian, an Iranian archaeologist, is that the temple dates back to the 4th century BC.

It is likely that the architects built this monument during the rule of Ardeshir II, a king of the Achaemenid Empire. Today, the remains of Anahita Temple are historically quite valuable.

In terms of etymology, Anahita means purity and sanctity. Ancient Persians believed that the Anahita, the Goddess of Water, was the guardian angel of springs and rain, and the symbol of love and friendship.

The stone columns of Anahita Temple have are of thicker diameters compared to the columns found in most of the ancient Iranian monuments. The stairs at the entrance of this temple were the gateways to this place. Archaeologists have found valuable antiquities on the site.

They have discovered decorative objects such as golden earrings, Achaemenid coins, as well as coffins, tombs, and huge columns with beautiful carvings in the area.


Anahita Temple in Takht-e Soleyman

The Temple of Anahita in the northeast of the lake is also important because Anahita is the goddess of water revered by the ancient Iranians and there must be a special reason for the existence of such a temple. Between the two peaks, during the rainy season, a lake of melted snow water can be seen, and below there is a spring, which is the main reason for the presence of the Anahita Temple. This spring provided drinking water for the priests. To the north of Takht-e Soleyman Lake is the Azargashsab Fire Temple, which is the most important historical monument of this complex.

The world heritage of Takht-e Soleiman near the city of Takab includes the signs and remains of human settlement from the first millennium BC to the 11th century AH. The Center for the History of Iranian and World Civilization is one of the 22 registered works of Iran in the UNESCO list of historical monuments.

In order to visit this mysterious structure (among many others), you can choose an Iran tour package that you can find below. Or you can easily make your own desired Iran tour package by filling out the form below, and our travel experts will get in touch with you shortly!


Watch the video: Lana Del Rey - Without You TRADUÇÃO BR (January 2022).