Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dareh Shahr


Dareh Shahr (دره شهر) is one of the important and ancient cities of Ilam Province. It is located in southeastern Ilam 840 kilometers from Tehran between new Dareh Shahr and the Bahman Abad Village. Holding vast fertile lands, different and rich water resources, rich pastures, dense forests, Dareh Shahr offers a mild climate and is situated in a relatively wide valley with many historical ascent and descents. Attacks of Arabs and Assyrians caused destruction of the city. Its forgotten and extinct fire-temple is still standing. In ancient times Elamites governed the Lorestan mountains and constructed several strong buildings. Dareh Shahr was the first Elamite city attacked and destroyed by Assyrians in addition to the massacre of people. In Simareh Valley the remains of the Sassanid monuments are still present; hence Dareh Shahr might have been a thriving city in the Sassanid and the Parthian periods. Furthermore some foreign experts call the unearthed city as the second and lost capital of the 'Selukis' while some Iranian archeologists believe that the monuments are part of the state of 'Sirvan'. Referencing some resources and texts, Dareh Shahr may be the same as Mehr Jaan Ghazagh, Saabzaan, Simareh or the city of Khosrow Parviz in the late Sassanid period completely leveled to earth from an earthquake in the years 248 and 344 A.H.  

In the ruins of Dareh Shahr, belonging to the Sassanid era, there are the vestiges of crosses, arches, ceilings, dome-shaped ceilings, alleys and passages with a specific order of urban development criteria of that time visible in the texture of the ruins. All the buildings of Dareh Shahr are constructed from abraded rubble stones and gypsum. Abundance of gypsum in Seimareh Valley from one hand, and simplicity of working with it have caused to making the best use of this material in the Sassanid architecture. The coins discovered in this area belong to Khosrow III and his successors.  

Located in the south of Dareh Shahr, in the beginning of a gorge with the same name on the outskirts of Kabir Kooh, is an ancient bridge called Gavmishan with 3 arches that has been recently repaired (as of 2008). Each of its arches is placed at 5.5 meter intervals from each other.  

The archeological excavations of the 1990’s in Dareh Shahr revealed a significant number of stucco surfaces and pieces that as far as diversity, finesse and aesthetics of the patterns and compositions are unique and unparalleled. The stucco patterns in this region are quite diverse and bear detailed decorations. The shapes are geometric with plant motifs. The stucco works are placed in frameworks as geometrical shapes (triangular, round, square and rectangular) and the surfaces are solid. All of the pieces have backgrounds and margins. The marginal shapes are in the form of Greek chains, rope-like texture and consecutive sevens, upside down patterns and consecutive ‘S’ shapes. The patterns in the center include lilies and 6 or 8 leaf flowers with a central circle, pomegranate, palm leaf and grape leaf and clusters combined in an endless composition. This image reveals the imaginative power of the artists that granted with the quality and flexibility of stucco, were able to create them because the lack of stucco firmness can be quite frustrating both for the artist and the designer.  

In 2000 50-day operations started by a team of archeologists and excavations were aimed at shedding further light on the unknown features about historical background of the ancient area. Unearthed remains of a city structure including residential quarters, passages, stables, market place, public bath and modern sewage system have attracted the attention of Iranian and foreign archeologists in recent years.  

In 2006 some eleven rare objects dating back to 2800 BC were illegally unearthed from Dareh Shahr including metal items such as arrows with designs, metals depicting wild goats, a golden cup, and a very unique and precious silver mask which is estimated to be from the first millennium BC. Together these items are valued at approximately 26,000 US dollars, and they could be sold outside the country for an estimated price of up to 80,000 USD. Fortunately this collection was seized in Tehran from an illegal digger in April of that year and was transferred to the Cultural Heritage Police Department.  

In 2007 continuation of agricultural activities in vicinity of national heritage site of Dareh Shahr posed real harms to this historic city. According to Behzad Faryadian, head of Seimareh Cultural Heritage Base, Dareh Shahr historic city was registered as the tenth national heritage sited in list of Iranian National Heritage sites in 1932. However the area of this national heritage site has reduced from 200 to 60 hectares due to activity of tractors in the region. So far, agricultural activities have razed a large amount of historical evidence to the ground and have resulted in destruction of a large number of remained historical buildings. Currently the farmers who have occupied the lands do not have title deeds. Also considering that there was no control over the lands during the last decades a large area of the lands of this territory have been occupied and gone under cultivation by local farmers. 


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