Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Eshaghvand Rock Tombs

The Eshaghvand Rock Tombs (گوردخمه اسحاقوند) are three rock-hewn tombs located 25 kilometers southwest of Harsin in Kermanshah Province. 


The three tombs near Deh'e Now together extend across a surface a little more than 10 meters wide, though at different heights above the ground.  The facades are generally similar, each with a panel carved as a door bordered on three sides by a stepped frame; the actual opening to the burial space is in the upper half of the panel. 


On top of the middle tomb there is a rock relief of a man with his profile toward the viewers. He is holding his hands in prayers in front of him. There is also a torch and a fire altar in front of him. Behind the fire altar there is another man, holding up something in his hands. The tombs have been attributed to different historical eras including Medes, Achaemenids, Seleucids and Parthians.


The three tombs consist of a rectangular room with platforms and shelves inside for sitting and placing gifts. The tomb on the right is placed higher than the other two and is approximately 2.10 meters across. The middle tomb is 1.63 meters wide and has a depth of 1.75 meters. The tomb on the left is also 2.10 meters wide but has a depth of only 85 centimeters.


It is believed that the middle tomb belongs to a magus called Gaumata who impersonated Bardia, son of Cyrus the Great, and brother of Cambyses II. On his deathbed Cyrus appointed Bardia as satrap of some of the far-eastern provinces. Cambyses II, after becoming king of Persia, killed Bardia and kept his death a secret. Bardia's death was not known to the people, and so in the spring of 522 BC, a usurper pretended to be him and proclaimed himself king. Before his death Cambyses II confessed to the murder of his brother, and publicly explained the whole fraud, but this was not generally believed. A number of Persian nobles discovered that their new ruler was an impostor, and a group of seven nobles formed a plot to kill him. They surprised him at a castle in Nisa and stabbed him to death in September 522 BC.


The tomb is also known as Farhad-Tash and the locals believe it ties in with the romance pursuits of Farhad and Shirin. In fact they claim that the name Farhad-Tash is abbreviated from Farhad-Tarash, meaning carved by Farhad. Within the area many fossils of aquatic creatures have been found which indicates that there may have been a body of water nearby.


In 2002 the Eshaghvand Tombs were registered as a national heritage site by Iran’s Cultural Heritage Department.