Lost in time: discover once-mighty stronghold in Tehran  

April 18, 2020 - 21:0

TEHRAN – One of the largest military fortresses of the ancient times can be found some half an hour drive southeast of Tehran, which makes it a very perfect and convenient destination for both domestic and foreign travelers.

Iraj fortress, also known as Gabri fort by the locals, is one of the lesser-known tourist sites of the country. It is located near the gates of the old city of Rey, now in the southeast of Tehran.

Some estimate that the crumbling fortress dates from the Sassanid era (224–651), however, there are experts who believe that it belongs to the Kayanian dynasty era, a semi-mythological dynasty, which is mentioned in the Persian poet Ferdowsi’s magnum opus, the Shahnameh. 

Looking at the imposing adobe citadel, which is now in the middle of nowhere, you might imagine the hustling and bustling of the place, scorching faces of military men and their horses in its heyday.  

Form another point of view, the fortress seems to be on the verge of total elimination due to years of neglect though it was registered on the National Cultural Heritage List 2003. 

Measuring about 3,000 square meters in area, the fortress has lost it towers some centuries ago – may be by erosion, and only lengthy and tall clay ramparts have been left. 

Based on evidence from excavations in 2008, archaeologists believe that the Iraj fortress was likely abandoned shortly after construction.

It seems that people who constructed the Sassanid fortress may have received bad news or were informed of a forthcoming invasion, therefore they leave the site.

The findings also indicated that the structure had been built to house 5,000 people, while the pottery dishes discovered at the site were adequate for only 500 people, so the experts cannot determine the purpose of the structure precisely. 

From very early history to modern times, defensive walls have often been necessary for cities to survive in an ever-changing world of invasion and conquest.
Fortifications in antiquity were designed primarily to defeat attempts at escalade, and to defense of territories in warfare, and were also used to solidify rule in a region during peacetime. 

Uruk in ancient Sumer (Mesopotamia) is one of the world’s oldest known walled cities. The Ancient Egyptians also built fortresses on the frontiers of the Nile Valley to protect against invaders from neighboring territories. 

Many of the fortifications of the ancient world were built with mud brick, often leaving them no more than mounds of dirt for today’s archaeologists.


Leave a Comment

3 + 11 =