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Thursday, 17-Aug-2006 14:27 Email | Share | Bookmark
Anahita Temple,Kangavar- Kermanshah Province

The Anahita Temple at Kangavar in western Iran is the most important architectural remnant of the cult of the Persian deity Anahita (or Nahid in Modern Persian).
The cult of Anahita, whose name means "unstained" or "immaculate", was strongest in Western Iran, and had extensive parallels with those of Semitic near-eastern goddesses such as Ishtar. Anahita is not present in the earliest parts of the Avesta; her cult would have been alien to the henotheistic spirit of the Zarathushtra (Zoroaster) presented in the Gathas.

Archeological investigation

In 1968 an Iranian team conducted some archaeological excavations in the vicinity of the Anahita Temple. Somewhat later the residential areas around the site were purchased and levelled to expand the excavation area to allow a comprehansive plan of the Temple and its precinct. The archaeological investigations indicated that the site is about 230 m long and 210 m wide. The site's highestpoint on the southeastern corner is 32 m high and the width of the surrounding wall is 18.5 m. Further investigations revealed that along the western, eastern, and southern parts of the Temple there had been a series of pillars on the exterior part of the building, which originally were 35.4 m high and consisted of three parts: shaft, plinth and capital.
Recent investigation in 1995 located a hitherto unknown part of the northeastern wall, considering of four rocky strata. Fortunately, the presence of some pillars in the northwestern front has provided evidence to reconstruct architectural details by special renovation techniques, which was necessary before excavation process could proceed.
The facing stairways (similar to those at Persepolis), discovered in the southern front of the site, indicate that the main entrance to the building had been located on this part. The distance between the tops of the stairways is 148 m. The stpes are 41.5 cm wide, 12 cm high, and 32 cm deep. Today there preserved 26 steps in both the eastern and western fronts. The scattered remains of steps in this area further suggest that actual number of the steps were more than 26. Evidence for additional entrance to the Temple is provided by the continuation of the eatern wall that leads to another stairway on its northeatern section.
In the central part of the Temple there exists a well-preserved wall (94 m long and 9 m wide) that leads from the eatern to the western side of the Temple. Its facade had been plastered. The soutthwestern and southeastern cornors continue northward, where, near the wall, a small canal was found. The purpose of this canal is not certain; it was either dug to collect rain water or was consturcted for ritual purposes


The ancient Persian water goddess, fertility goddess, and patroness of women, as well as a goddess of war. Her name means "the immaculate one". She is portrayed as a virgin, dressed in a golden cloak, and wearing a diamond tiara (sometimes also carrying a water pitcher). The dove and the peacock are her sacred animals.
Anahita was very popular and is one of the forms of the 'Great Goddess' which appears in many ancient eastern religions (such as the Syrian/Phoenician goddess Anath). She is associated with rivers and lakes, as the waters of birth. Anahita is sometimes regarded as the consort of Mithra
When Persia conquered Babylonia (in the 6th century BCE), Anahita began to show some similarities with the goddess Ishtar. Since then her cult included also the practice of temple prostitution. During the reign of king Artaxerxes (436-358 BCE) many temples were erected in her honor; in Soesa, Ecbatana, and in Babylon.

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