New discoveries may extend antiquity of Iran’s Belqeis Citadel

July 21, 2009

TEHRAN -- The antiquity of the Belqeis Citadel in northeastern Iran may be extended by the study of artifacts discovered during the latest excavations.

Located near Esfarayen in North Khorasan Province, the Belqeis Citadel is Iran’s second largest historical citadel, which was built with mud bricks after the Bam Citadel.
The Belqeis Citadel was believed to date back to the Safavid era (1501-1722).
“The discovery of a number of pieces of pottery and coins minted in 191 Hijra (c. 807 CE) gives some evidence for civilization in the region during the second century after the Hijra,” director of the Research Center of the North Khorasan Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Department Ali-Akbar Vahdati told the Persian service of IRNA on Sunday.
The pottery is similar to that previously discovered in Neyshabur, which resembled artifacts made in Merv and Samarqand during the early Islamic centuries, he added.
“We have begun thinking that there were economic relations between the region and Samarqand as coins minted in Samarqand were discovered,” he explained.
An archaeological team is scheduled to carry out excavations in the near future to determine whether there had been a citadel at the place before, which was restored during the Safavid era.
Comprising three sections of houses, yards, and stables, the Belqeis Citadel was built in the Sassanid architectural style. A total of 29 towers had been constructed across the citadel, which was abandoned during the Safavid era.