Excavations at Iranian mosque unearth new evidence on life in early Islamic era

June 14, 2020 - 23:8

TEHRAN – Some historical objects have been unearthed during a round of archaeological excavation, which is currently underway in a centuries-old congregational mosque in Rasht, the capital of Gilan province, northern Iran.

“Excavations inside the historical Safi Mosque in Rasht led to the discovery of objects bearing historical values appearing to have been found beneath Islamic-era tombs,” deputy provincial tourism chief Vali Jahani announced on Saturday.

“The objects include a glass scent-bottle, a handmade pottery bowl, and other pieces of glassware. And the placement of these objects in the lower layers of Islamic-era tombs shows the importance of this historical area,” the official said, CHTN reported.

Earlier this month, several ancient glazed tiles were unearthed beneath the mosque while a team of restorers was digging into its mihrab. Mihrab is a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that points out the qibla, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying.

Referring to a restoration project, which initially led to such discoveries in the mosque, the official explained “The restoration project has been temporarily suspended to leave the ground for archaeological surveys.”

“Given that the discovered objects will be very useful in the dating of the city of Rasht, so fragments of these works will be sent to advanced laboratories in the country to obtain the absolute antiquity of the objects, and dating will be conducted via the thermoluminescent approach.”

“According to the present evidence, these historical objects discovered from the Safi Mosque belong to the Ilkanind and Timurid periods,” he concluded.

In the month of Farvardin (Mach 20 – April 19) a trench measuring 1.5 m by 1.5 m was carved in the mosque’s shabestan (an underground space that can be usually found in the traditional architecture of mosques in ancient Iran), which resulted in recognizing some additional sections.

Safi Mosque, also known as Sefid and Shahidiyeh Mosque, which is widely considered as the oldest standing monuments in Rasht, was reportedly established before Shah Ismail, the Safavid monarch, assumed power (in 1501).


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