Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sad Fate of Ancient Fire Temple at Qom

Qom’s Parthian fire temple left at her own devices to be destroyed

February 8, 2013 (From Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies)

LONDON, (CAIS) -- A recent report from Qom, indicates Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organisation (ICHHTO) has purposely left a 2,000-year-old Kermejgān (recently Karamjegān) fire temple at her own devices at the mercy of zealous religious leaders and harsh weather, to be destroyed.

Kermejgān fire temple, which in fact is a chār tāqi (small fire-temple with astrological and calendrical functionalities) is located in the northwest of a village of the same name, in the Kahak District of the central Iranian province of Qom. The chār tāqi is 7.10 x7.10 meters, and there is a 3.5-meter gap between each 1.8 x 1.8 meters tick pillars. Although smaller, the similarity between Kermejgān and Niāsar chār tāqi in Kashn, led to believe Kermejgān is a Parthian dynastic (248 BCE-224 CE) construction, dating to the early first century CE.

In 1997 a number of zealous Muslim leaders from Kahak and Qom, in Taliban style fighting and destroying pre-Islamic heritage, brought 2000-year-old Kermejgān to the ground, by destroying two of her pillars, causing her ancient dome to collapse – her ashlars were taken away in order not to be restored, and some were reused in the construction of a nearby underground water reservoir.

The collapse of the dome and lack of protection, particularly during the wet seasons, has caused the rainwater to penetrate into her foundation from within, causing the floor to rise. Today, from her two remaining pillars only portions of it are visible. No scientific research has ever been carried out on the site, and if no immediate measures are taken to protect the remains then nothing will be left of her within the next few years.

Although the criminals for destroying the heritage site are known to the authorities, no charges were brought against them. This suggests the action was sanctioned by the ruling clerics.

Qom today is considered as the main centre for the Shiat sect of Islam, it held the same religious prominence during the Sasanian period, but as the Zoroastrian Centre. The city was called Godmān/Gomān and later Ērān Win(n)ārd Kawādh.
While nothing is known of Qom’s history during the Median (850-550 BCE) and Achaemenid (550-330 BCE) dynasties, there are significant archaeological remains from the post-Achaemenid and Parthian dynasties, of which the ruins of Khurha (85 km from the city of Qom, and since 1978 part of Markazi Province) are the most famous and important remnants.

Qom during the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE) continued to thrive and contained numerous palaces, religious, military and administrative buildings. It is believed that the city was divided into twelve sectors, each having a fire temple.

During the 7th century CE, the city was formed as the core of the Persian resistance against the Arab invaders, where the Persian nobles and soldiers gathered there after the fall and massacre of Nahavand. The city finally felt into the Arab hands in 644 CE, after a long few days of hard resistance and a number of bloody battles.

After the fall, the city had continued to survive as a Zoroastrian city but under Isfahan’s administration, by placing a poll-tax on the population’s head. This was due to the fact that the Zoroastrian and mythical personalities in connection with the city and its surrounding area was too strong to be Islamicised. However, due to the migration of groups of Arab refugees to the city between 685 and 696 CE, the tables were turned; all the fire temple were razed to the ground and Persian inhabitants were forced to accept Islam or killed and their properties were confiscated. Many of those fire temples had become the foundation for the later mosques, including the Masjed-e Emām.

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