Visit Tappeh Mill, one of the most ancient temples in Iran

October 30, 2019

TEHRAN – Of the buildings that still remain from the early years of civilization, are the ancient temples. Given the importance of religion for the mankind, it’s not surprising that these spiritual sites were built using topmost architectural innovations of the time in imposing scales.

Tappeh Mill (literally - a mill hill), also known as the Bahram fire temple, is one of the oldest standing Zoroastrian temples in Iran. The monument sits majestically on the hill near Ghal'eh Noe Village not far from the city of Rey, southward of Tehran.

Some archaeologists say that the temple was built during the Sassanid era (224 to 651 CE), but it is not possible to find out the exact time of its foundation.

There is another opinion that the temple was built even earlier - during the Achaemenid era (550 BC–330 BC), and was destroyed during Alexander the Great’s conquest of Persia. That is why it is hard to conclude which Zoroastrian temple is the most ancient in the country.

Tappeh Mill is made of brick and mortar (clay, water and egg white). Inside, there is a large hall, divided into three parts. The sacred fireplace burnt in the eastern part of the temple with high vault (iwan) and four round columns. After more than a thousand years, geometrically patterned plaster reliefs, reliefs with floral and animal motifs still can be seen on the walls of the temple. Such a choice of images was dictated by the traditional design of Zoroastrian temples of those times.

Despite the presence of protective structures, the temple was somewhat damaged due to strong winds in 2017. Now it is restored and welcomes tourists again.

A Zoroastrian temple is a place to keep sacred fire, which cherished by special Zoroastrian followers wearing white clothes - a sign of their ritual purity. During the reign of the Sassanid Empire, Zoroastrianism became the state religion, as a result of which such temples were built in large numbers across the empire. However, after the advent of Islam, Zoroastrian temples fell into decay.

Zoroastrianism still survives in some areas across Iran such as the city of Yazd. It is also practiced more prosperously in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Iranian (Persian) immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees.

AFM/MG

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