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Bishapur


The so-called temple of Anahita at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins.
The inner square
Bishapur: important Sasanian city in Iran, founded by king Shapur I, and built by Roman POWs.
    
History Castle City Palace "Temple" Cave
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"Temple"

The building that is known as the Temple of Anahita, is in fact an unidentified structure, deeper than the other rooms of the palace. The structure, with its pleasant, harmonious dimensions, can only be reached by descending a long stairs.
Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
The  water conduit in the shrine of Anahita. Photo Erik de Jong.
Access to the water conduit

It is a building without parallel. Once you've descended the stairs, you will find yourself on a small square, surrounded by high walls. The square must have been a pool, surrounded by sidewalks. The doors in the walls give access to a corridor that surrounded the square, and which in turn gave access to the place where the aqueduct reached this square building.

On top of two of the walls, there used to be triangle-shaped structure that looks as if it supported a roof. In fact, the sanctuary was open, and the triangle-shaped structures supported large bull imposts. (One of these can now be seen in the Western Mosaic Hall of the Palace.)

The big question is, of course, what this unique structure is. It is usually called the "Temple of Anahita", and perhaps this is correct. However, I am not betraying a great archaeological secret if I explain that when archaeologists find something they cannot understand, they usually call it religious. Identifying a mysterious square building as a temple, is just one example. Because the ancient architect created something with water, the obvious deity is Anahita.

However, if we give up the idea that this was a sanctuary, there is little that connects it to goddess of waters. We simply do not know what it is.

Bull's head from the "temple" of Bishapur. Photo Jona Lendering. The "temple" of Bishapur. Photo Jona Lendering. Imitation Achaemenid style lintel from the "temple" of Bishapur. Photo Jona Lendering.
Bull's head from the "temple", now in the Western Mosaic Hall of the Palace The "temple" of Bishapur Imitation Achaemenid style lintel from the "temple"
The "temple" of Bishapur. Photo Jona Lendering. The so-called temple of Anahita at Bishapur. Photo Mahin Bahrami. The so-called temple of Anahita at Bishapur. Photo Marco Prins.
The "temple" of Bishapur Photo Mahin Bahrami (*) "Temple" from the outside

History Castle City Palace "Temple" Cave
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Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2004
Revision: 17 May 2011
Livius.Org Anatolia Carthage Egypt Germ. Inf. Greece Judaea Mesopotamia Persia Rome Other