Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Narenjestan-e- Ghavam ( Qavam's House)

Narenjestan is not an old complex in comparison with other brilliont buildings of ancient Iran, but one look at this structure will lead to a love affair with the Iranian architect and art. Narenjestan is located in Shiraz and it's the perfect stop on a hot summer day as the gardens will refresh your very soul. The building has been occupied by many but the original builder was Mirza Ibrahim Khan who built this amazing complex in late 1800s. Mirza Ibrahim khan was the great grandson of the elder "Ghavam" and grandfather of the contemporary "Ghavamolmolk". The Ghavam family were merchants originally from Qazvin. But they soon became active in the government during the Zand Dynasty, followed by the Qajar and Pahlavi Dynasty.
The complex includes the private bath house, public bath house, Husseinieh (religious ceremonies building, detention house and stable. The detention house and stable no longer exist. The buildings were interconnected by an underground passage way. The Qavam "Naranjestan" preserves the elegance and refinement enjoyed by the upper class families during the nineteenth century. The paintings on the low ceilings of the house are inspired by Victorian era Europe. Every room has its own theme identified by paintings on the ceilings, walls and fire places. For me the most beautiful of all the rooms was the mirror porch, which is also the focal point of the house, overlooking onto the gardens lined with date palms and flowers. There is nothing more peacfull than sitting on that porch in one afternoon and listening to the whisper of the waterways and birds singing in the trees. The smell of tanjerine and jasmin will blow your mind. During the second Pahlavi era, the House became the headquarters of Pahlavi University's "Asia Institute", directed by Arthur Pope and Richard Nelson Frye. It is necessary to mention, that Professor Arthur Upham Pope spent 50 years of his time life, working here, dedicating it numerous antique artifacts. Collections of photographs and slides, initiated by Professor Pope, are also preserved here as there is a museum beneath the building structure. Frye and his family also lived in the house for a while. The house today is a museum open to the public. For more pictures of Narenjestan go to "my photos".

Friday, July 21, 2006

Jiroft Civilization


Jiroft is a city in Kerman province, Iran. It is located 230 kilometres south of the city of Kerman, and 1,375 kilometres south of Tehran. In the past it was also known as Sabzewaran, and on account of it being very fertile land it is famous as Hend-e-Koochak (the little India). Jiroft is located on the vast plain of Halil Rud which contains many of the ancient archaeological sites of Iran. One of the most recent discoveries in this area was the uncovering of a millennia-old city buried near Jiroft. Buried in the city were two inscriptions that are considered to be the oldest evidence of written Language in the world. The discoveries further indicated that the city was in a trading business with Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and the Persian Gulf region about 5000 years ago! Archaeological evidance shows that the civilians were experts in making pottery, vessels and seals and these goods contained most of the tradings.

Jiroft Civilization

Jiroft is reletively a new archeaological site and although the inhabitants of this area had a well developed society even before the Elimate Dynasty not much is known about them. Sir Aurel Stein was the first archaeologist to survey the area. At least twelve sites are now under excavation in the area, the oldest thought to be more than 5000 years of age. The recent accidental discoveries have led to a surge in illegal excavations and looting, mainly of ancient tombs. The number of smuggled artifacts discovered became so noticeable that police forces had to be dispatched to try stop the looting. Interpol has also been cooperating on stopping the trade sourcing from the area. The most significant of these sites are Shahr-i Sokhta, Tepe Bampur, Espiedej, Shahdad, Iblis, and Tepe Yahya. Some are in the neighboring Sistan and Baluchistan province. The recent archeological findings at Jiroft that have uncovered an "independent, bronze age, civilization with its own architecture and language" have led some archaeologists to speculate it to be the remains of the lost Aratta Kingdom, though some others disagree. But what is for certain is that this kingdom had a large pottery industry, was a transit hub for trade merchants, and had active interactions with the Elamites. The archaeological excavations have been under the supervision of Dr. Yousef Madjidzadeh since 2003. His team's accomplishments include the finding of the location of an estimated 700 sites in an area of about 400 square km. Focusing on two hills of Konar Sandal, he has been able to identify a construction which he classifies as a ziqqurat (a temple-tower of Mesopotamian origin) and a citadel, both dated by him to the 3rd millennium B.C. In addition, six large cemeteries, a large industrial center near Anbaraba, and numerous domestic structures have been discovered in the surveyed area. Among artifacts 25 seals were discovered and the first undisputable evidence of writing: a clay brick with an Elamitic inscription. Jiroft is considered one of the major cradles of civilizations and the world is eager to learn more about the inhabitants of this historical site.