Police arrest illegal diggers in Soltanieh

January 31, 2022 - 21:0

TEHRAN – Iranian police have recently arrested eight illegal excavators and antique smugglers in Soltanieh, which is home to a UNESCO-designated monument of the same name, a senior police official in charge of protecting cultural heritage has announced. 

The accused people were detained in a quick and surprising action while they were digging into a private house in search of antiquities, CHTN quoted Hossein-Ali Fazli as saying on Monday. 

The culprits, who were traced following reports by local people and cultural heritage aficionados, were surrendered to the judicial system for further investigation, the official added. 

Furthermore, a metal detector and some excavation tools have been seized from the culprits, he noted. 

Meaning “Town of the Sultans”, Soltanieh was briefly the capital of Persia’s Ilkhanid dynasty (a branch of the Mongol dynasty) during the 14th century. It is situated in Zanjan province, northwest Iran.

The UNESCO-registered Dome of Soltanieh, (“Soltanieh Cupola”) is the highlight of the city’s tourist attractions. The very large dome is the earliest extant example of its type and became an important reference for the later development of the Islamic dome. Similarly, the extremely rich interior of the mausoleum, which includes glazed tiles, brickwork, marquetry, or designs in inlaid materials, stucco, and frescoes, illustrates an important movement towards more elaborate materials and themes.

According to UNESCO, the Mausoleum of Oljaytu is an essential link and key monument in the development of Islamic architecture in central and western Asia. Here, the Ilkhanids further developed ideas that had been advanced during the classical Seljuk phase (11th to early 13th centuries), during which the arts of Iran gained distinction in the Islamic world, thereby setting the stage for the Timurid period (late 14th to 15th centuries), one of the most brilliant periods in Islamic art.


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