Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tagh'e Gara

Tagh’e Gara Fort (طاق گرا) is located 90 kilometres to the west of Kermanshah in Sar Pol’e Zahab district in the heights known as the Gate of Zagros. It was built during the Sassanid era (226-651 AD) and believed to be, due to being strategically located overlooking an approaching road, for controlling the western advances to Iran leading to Kermanshah. Other possible uses attributed to it include a war victory monument and royal rest area.  

Experts attribute the structure to the Sassanid era because the interior sections of the walls are filled with gravel and plaster mortar — a style prevalent during that period. The floor of the structure is 1.20 meters above the ground surface while the arched opening stands at 5.92 meters at its highest point. The height of the entire structure is 11.7 meters while it extends 4.1 meters across and 3.1 meters deep.  

At the time, all caravans entering Iran from the west were controlled in Tagh’e Gara. The Kermanshah road and Tagh’e Gara, utilized as a watchtower for controlling the road and providing security to caravans entering Iran from the west, are considered among the masterpieces of ancient times. The incline envisaged in constructing the road, the protection wall built for preventing the possible threats caused by landslides and floods on the road and the several bridges built along the route all show that ancient Iranians has professional civil engineers and well developed technology in road construction during the Sassanid era (although some argue it may even date back to the Parthian era).  

Three layers of graveled road were used under the surface layer of the approaching road, two of which have been unearthed so far.  

Further studies indicate that there must have been an inscription in this building but there is no trace of this. The inscription must have been engraved in a block measuring 1.70 meters by 2.40 meters. However, the inscription has completely disappeared; therefore, there is no definite conclusion about the text inscribed on it.  

Tagh’e Gara was constructed using stone blocks and the interior walls of the building were covered with rubble and plaster. The height of the building is 11 meters and the interior walls are engraved with geometrical designs. There is a cradle-shaped arch cut as a passageway into the mountain and the entrance of the structure is made of large rectangular blocks of stone.  

Approximately 30 meters to its east, there is a detached boulder with a rectangular flat carved face measuring 156 by 173 centimeters. While there is no exact information regarding its purpose, but it is assumed it was created in order to have a short description of Tagh’e Gara registered on it, even though this latter project was seemingly abandoned before completion.


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