Iranian police seize ancient relics from smuggler

April 6, 2022 - 18:4

TEHRAN – A total of 54 historical objects have recently been confiscated from an antique dealer in the ancient city of Seymareh, western Ilam province, the provincial tourism chief has announced.

The relics are estimated to date back to the Parthian, Sassanid, and Islamic eras, Abdolmalek Shanbehzadeh said on Wednesday.

The relics include bronze, silver, iron, and pottery coins, earrings, rings, bracelets, bowls, arrowheads, mirrors, and headbands, the official added.

The police detained and surrendered the culprit to the judicial system for further investigation, he explained.

Establishing a primary residence at Ctesiphon, on the Tigris River in southern Mesopotamia, Parthian kings ruled for nearly half a millennium and influenced politics from Asia Minor to northern India, until they were overthrown by Sasanian armies from southwest Iran in the early third century CE.

Parthian wealth obtained through lucrative trade networks resulted in substantial patronage of the arts, in particular, relief sculpture, statuary (large and small scale), architectural sculpture, metalwork, jewelry, and ceramics; coins with images of Parthian rulers form another important category of objects.

In many ways, Iran under Sassanian rule witnessed tremendous achievements of Persian civilization. Experts say that the art and architecture of the nation experienced a general renaissance during Sassanid rule.

In that era, crafts such as metalwork and gem-engraving grew highly sophisticated, as scholarship was encouraged by the state; many works from both the East and West were translated into Pahlavi, the official language of the Sassanians.

The legendary wealth of the Sassanian court is fully confirmed by the existence of more than one hundred examples of bowls or plates of precious metal known at present. One of the finest examples is the silver plate with partial gilding in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The dynasty was destroyed by Arab invaders during a span from 637 to 651.

The term Islamic art not only describes the art created specifically in the service of the Muslim faith (for example, a mosque and its furnishings) but also characterizes the art and architecture historically produced in the lands ruled by Muslims, produced for Muslim patrons, or created by Muslim artists. 

As it is not only a religion but a way of life, Islam fostered the development of a distinctive culture with its own unique artistic language that is reflected in art and architecture throughout the Muslim world.

Seymareh ancient city, with an area of 200 hectares, is located near Darreh Shahr city. It dates back to the Sassanid era (224 CE–651) and is believed to be built on remnants of the Elamite capital, Madaktu.

The archeological findings show that the city included about 5,000 houses with some modern aspects like a water distribution system through clay pipes and underground sewers. The city was destroyed and deserted after a huge earthquake around 950 BC.

The remnants of the city were inscribed on the National Heritage list in 1931.

Darreh Shahr was once the summer capital of Elamites, a pre-Iranian civilization dated from 2700 to 539 BC. The city also enjoyed centuries of prosperity during the Sassanid era.

Darreh Shahr and its surrounding regions boast vestiges of Sassanid constructions such as arches, ceilings, alleys, and passages that follow a specific order of urban development criteria of the time.


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