(Persia Digest) – With a history of over 3000 years, Zahhāk Fort stands on Monfared Peak as an important monument of Parthian and Sassanid times.
Zahhāk Fort is near Hashtrud town, East Azerbaijan. Standing at an altitude of 2300 meters, it is a must see historic site, going back in time [from Zahhāk to Anahita] from Parthian-Sassanid eras. It has borne many names throughout history, from Zahak Ezdehak, Qiz Qalasi, Dash Qalasi, Ru’i Fort, and Gu’i Castle. Zahhāk Fort was first researched and studied by a German archaeological delegation in 1971.
Its gate towers and cuboid stone cladding date back to the Sassanid era. But, terracotta pottery found here pertain to the 11th and 12th centuries. This was a fortified castle surrounded by an abyss on three sides. Engravings adorn the walls. The Fort has storage spaces for stone, water reservoirs, a mill, an assembly hall, baths, and tens of other spaces used for daily life.
Half of the rooms have been dug underground, and the other half are dug in the mountain as caves. Most of these caves also have a water reservoir. Small niches have been embedded in the cave walls and the spring water from the adjoining mountain with an average pressure reaches the Castle through piping that has been laid down in the ground.
The piping route is visible over ground. In addition, a large number of terracotta piping pieces and remains of carelessly uprooted stone molds from the bed can be seen lying around the area. The piping bed is 50cms wide and one meter deep. The terracotta pipe lengths are joined together in the bed.
All the terracotta found in Zahhāk Fort pertain to the 11th and 12th centuries in the Islamic era. The carvings and embedding in the rocky mountain are all witness to the Fort dating back to the pre-Islamic era.
A cemetery is next to the Fort on the foothills where the stone statue of a ram can be seen. Adjoining the cemetery is Yengejeh village, where one of the homes also displays a ram statue from a grave embedded in its wall.
Zahhāk Fort was registered as a national heritage by Iran’s Ministry of Arts and Culture in 1962 under no 436.
Photos: Akbar Niati/Jām-e Jam