Temple architecture

Large pre-Islamic temple discovered in Iran; Third largest fire temple that existed in ancient Persia

Tehran (Iran): About 200 fire temples have been discovered all over the world, but Savadkuh county temple in Iran is a special temple with a sense of ancient and rare Iranian “divine” architectural format.

“We have probably discovered the third largest fire temple that existed in ancient Iran,” archaeologist MeysamLabbaf-Khaniki said, according to ILNA.

“During this archaeological season, we have collected considerable evidence such as carved plasterwork and inscriptions that suggest the ruins are linked to an important fire temple,” the archaeologist said, as quoted by Tehran Times.

The ancient Iran referred to here dates back to the Sasanian era (224-651 CE), which was the oldest Persian royal dynasty, ruling for 400 years. It was the last Persian dynasty in the region before the Muslims invaded and established their rule throughout the province. During these 400 years, Zoroastrianism became the state religion.

It was a momentous period for Iran only because the Sasanian era is also considered the renaissance period where art, architecture and trade flourished. While archaeologists bask in the glory of this ancient temple with exquisite stuccowork adorned with capital columns, carved plasterwork and mysterious inscriptions, historians might be in for a treat too.

Although the worship of sacred fire is the basis of Zoroastrianism, fire temples are also found in other Asian countries, namely Iran, India, Turkey and Azerbaijan. The rituals, literature and devotion around the “fire” of Zoroastrianism have great similarities with the Hindu practices around “agni”.

In Zoroastrianism, fire is considered a purifying force, identified with truth and order and in India, “agni” is at the heart of every ceremony, including birth, marriage and death. Performing puja for Lord Agni protects a person from evil forces and negative energies, purifies the Aura and gives peace of mind and the person is blessed by all gods and goddesses since Lord Agni is a messenger between the worshiper and them. The importance of agni can be inferred from the fact that no other god collects as many hymns as the god of fire.

“Yasna” is the Avestan name for the main act of worship in Zoroastrianism, and the Avestan texts, which are recited during the yasna, bear striking resemblance to the Hindu sacrificial rituals of the yajnas. The Yasna says that “he who sacrifices to fire with fuel in his hand…, receives happiness” and yajnas are sacrificial rituals to support celestial beings who bless humanity with balance and happiness.

The inscriptions and their fragments found at the fire temple are written in Pahlavi scripts. Again phonetically resembling “Pali”, a dialect of Sanskrit, which became a major language of Buddhist scriptures and literature was a dominant language in a similar period in India.

For Indians, the cultural and historical connection with the Middle East is common knowledge. The great Indian kingdoms of the past extended far west to Iran and remained commercially connected even before the Portuguese discovered Bharat. But for those who need hard evidence, this recent discovery of the fire temple and the inscriptions once deciphered could prove to be a telling moment.

Recently, the Saudi Heritage Commission discovered an 8,000-year-old archaeological site at the Al-Faw site, southwest of the country’s capital, Riyadh.