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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Exploring some history


Iran/Persia is one of the oldest civilisations in the world. It is also one of the oldest "nation states" with a history stretching back to around 1500 BC. Yes, it has seen invasions and conquerors, the last being the Seljuk Turks who brought Islam to the Persians, converting them from Zoroastrianism. Traditions die hard and some of their buildings and building techniques are still the same as they were when Xerxes invaded Greece or Alexander marched his conquering army across this landscape. Last Friday I had the interesting experience of visiting a town, once a city, founded before Cyrus the Great was born. That puts its founding at around 1000 BC. Abyaneh is a fascinating place, the buildings, all of them, constructed of mud and timber and literally clinging to a mountainside. Atop the mountain is the ruin of a castle built by Cyrus the Great and the town is home to a small Holy Shrine, the tomb of the son of one of the great Shia "Imams".

The pictures I wanted to include won't upload for some reason, but I'll keep posting them one at a time to show some of the streets, narrow winding alleys, paved with stone and having a central drain. The houses are all more than one storey, though some are no longer occupied. The ability to build these structures is still very much alive and well in this land of contrasts and proud people. I have also included pictures in the shrine and wish I could have taken some of the Great Mosque (It being Friday it was in use) which boasts what is probably an ancient Christian Altar table dated to pre-Islam and is certainly not Zoroastrian despite the signs!

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