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Trudy S. Kawami

[Pers. Kūh-i Khwāja]

Dramatic basalt outcrop that rises from the marshes of Lake Hamun in Iranian Sistan near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. On the south side are the pale mud-brick ruins of Ghaga-shahr, a walled complex often called a palace and usually dated to the mid-Parthian period (1st century ad; see Parthian). On the summit is a small fortification, and numerous Islamic tombs and shrines dot the upper ridges. The striking setting may well be responsible for the continued veneration of the site variously identified as Mt Ushida of the Zoroastrian Avesta, the site of Zoroaster’s preaching, the seat of one of the Three Wise Men of the Christmas story, the castle of Rustam, a hero of the Shāhnāma (‘Book of Kings’), the Persian national epic, and the last resting-place of a Muslim holy man.

The Ghaga-shahr ruins consist of a domed entrance suite, a courtyard whose north side is a terraced wall, and a set of buildings including a presumed fire temple on top of the terrace. Two main building phases can be discerned. The first phase established the basic plan of the site, with the entrance suite, the court, and the north terrace with its façade of applied Doric-style columns and architrave with running volute ornament. Beneath the terrace is a vaulted gallery or cryptoporticus lit by windows placed between the applied columns. This gallery was extensively painted, with a coffered ceiling whose panels alternately held elaborate rosettes and small classicizing figures, an illusionistic cornice with a beribboned laurel band, and a series of large figures, apparently deities, painted on the walls. Remains of paintings in the window recesses show that they too had coffered ceilings, and one window had a row of five male figures (Herzfeld’s ‘spectators’) facing the gallery, in early Sasanian style. The Sasanian style of the gallery paintings, as well as a stucco panel in the doorway of the entrance suite, demonstrates that the first phase extended at least into the early Sasanian period....


Dominique Collon

Hoard of some 180 items of jewellery and precious objects, mostly dating from c. 550 to c. 330 bc, found in the banks of the River Oxus (Amu Darya) in Bactria in 1877; most are now in the British Museum in London. The exact find-spot is uncertain but was possibly Takht-i Kubad in south-west Tajikistan. The treasure, thought to have been part of a temple hoard, possibly from the Temple of Anahita in Bactra (now Balkh), may have been buried during disturbances in the late 4th century, or perhaps as late as the early 2nd century bc. This discrepancy is due to doubts as to whether some 1500 coins, ranging in origin from Athens to Bactria and in date from c. 500 to c. 180 bc, were part of the original hoard. After its discovery the treasure was taken by merchants to Afghanistan, where they were robbed. Most of it was rescued by a British officer, Capt. ...