Sassanid seal depicting unique animal motif unearthed in northern Iran

December 26, 2021 - 21:37

TEHRAN – Archaeologists have discovered a rare stone seal that depicts a unique animal shape during their recent excavation in northern Iran.

Estimated to date from the Sassanid era (224 CE–651), the object along with other relics including potteries and archeological remnants of the same epoch were found in a stratigraphy project, which is currently underway in Sorkhrud county of Mazandaran province, CHTN reported on Sunday.

Up to the moment, remnants associated with the Iron Age, Parthians,  Sassanids, and early Islamic eras have been identified inside trenches carved to determine boundaries of the archaeological site, archaeologist Meysam Fallah said.

“Moreover, a Sassanid bas-relief carving and several clay seals bearing animal and geometric motifs mark the most important relics discovered at the site so far.”

Under Sassanid's rule, Persian arts and architecture experienced a general renaissance. However, it made its way well beyond the vast borders of the longest-lived Persian dynasty, which at its greatest extent encompassed all of present-day Iran and Iraq and stretched from the eastern Mediterranean (including Anatolia and Egypt) to Pakistan, and from parts of southern Arabia to the Caucasus and Central Asia.

Architecture often took grandiose proportions such as palaces at Ctesiphon, Firuzabad, and Sarvestan that are amongst highlights of the ensemble. Crafts such as metalwork and gem-engraving grew highly sophisticated, yet scholarship was encouraged by the state. In those years, works from both the East and West were translated into Pahlavi, the language of the Sasanians. Rock-carved sculptures and bas-reliefs on abrupt limestone cliffs are widely deemed as characteristics and striking relics of the Sasanian art, top examples of which can be traced at Bishapur, Naqsh-e Rostam, and Naqsh-e Rajab in southern Iran.

Some experts believe that Sasanian art borrowed from ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman traditions to express a new Iranian cultural identity, particularly manifest in prestigious monuments and objects connected to the royal court. Secure dates for many Sasanian buildings and works of art are difficult to determine, in part due to the lack of material from documented archaeological contexts.

The dynasty evolved by Ardashir I and was destroyed by the Arabs during the period of 637 to 651. The dynasty was named after Sasan, an ancestor of Ardashir I. Under his leadership who reigned from 224 to 241, the Sasanians overthrew the Parthians and created an empire that was constantly changing in size as it reacted to Rome and Byzantium to the west and the Kushans and Hephthalites to the east.

According to experts affiliated with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the trade, conquest, and diplomacy resulted in the diffusion of Sasanian luxury arts both in the East and West during the four centuries of Sasanian rule.

In 2018, UNESCO added an ensemble of Sasanian historical cities in southern Iran -- titled “Sassanid Archaeological Landscape of Fars Region”-- to its World Heritage list.

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