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Temple in Iran

Archaeologists discover ancient temple in Iran


A team of Iranian and Italian archaeologists has discovered the remains of an ancient temple in an Elymais site in the Kaleh Chendar region in southwestern Iran.

Elymais (the Greek name for Biblical Elam), otherwise called Elamais, was a semi-independent state of the 2nd century BC to the early 3rd century AD, although the native civilization had roots reaching back at least 3000 years. It was located at the head of the Persian Gulf in the present-day region of Khuzestan, Iran.  The dynasty seems to have been founded by Kamnaskires, known from coins dated 81 BC. The kingdom, though seldom mentioned, survived until its extinction by the Sassanid king Ardashir I (reigned 224–241 AD). What is known about the kingdom comes from rock reliefs and inscriptions left in a form of Aramaic, as well as the discovery of numerous coins from the period.

The ruins of the ancient Elymais temple demonstrate building with large stones without mortar, and include platforms made of rectangular bricks, which may have been altars or small platforms used for worship. The team of archaeologists also unearthed an ancient family grave in a small rectangular room with a stone structure, which was used by members of a family for about one hundred years during the period. 

The discovery sheds light on an otherwise virtually unknown civilization. Written history on Elymais is almost non-existent (one sentence by Lucian mentions a king named Kamnaskires) but dozens of varieties of coins spanning the last two centuries BC and the first two centuries AD have provided some knowledge about this mysterious civilisation.

Illegal excavations by artefact smugglers are currently threatening the site.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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