TEHRAN — Archaeologists said Saturday they have uncovered the tomb of a Seleucid satrap, or general, in Hamedan, offering an extraordinary glimpse into Hellenistic life in west-central Iran.
According to senior archaeologist Mohsen Khanjan, who is leading the excavation, they uncovered a tomb that is likely the burial site of one of the satraps, ILNA reported.
The discovery was made at Tepe Naqarevi near what archaeologists have long been pursuing to uncover the Seleucid Laodicea Temple beneath the modern city of Nahavand in Hamedan Province.
“Naqarechi is a round hill about eight meters high that lies among orchards in south-east Nahavand,” Khanjan said.
“Nahavand was one of the cities that the Seleucids built during their Iranian rule over occupied Iran, using their own craftsmen, teachers, artists, historians, traders, … to make Iranian land more Greek.”
The archaeologist said the recent discovery may indicate the discovery of Seleucid burial rituals in Iran, or even their inspiration by Iranians at the time.
“Due to the scarcity of Seleucid works discovered in Iran so far, we do not know much about the architecture of Greek dwellings and their burial customs.”
The discovery of this tomb can be of great help to archaeologists in shedding light on the dark corners of the Seleucid period on the Iranian plateau.
In recent years, Khanjan has led several archaeological seasons in an attempt to uncover the Laodicea Temple, believed to be beneath the Dokhaharan sanctuary.
According to him, in addition to a Greek inscription, other important objects such as bronze statues of Greek gods, a stone altar, a pillar head, a pillar shaft, a pillar base and ceramic pieces were discovered in the neighborhood of Dokhaharan.
“Regarding these finds, we concluded that the history of the city of Nahavand stretches far back into prehistoric times, as opposed to what was previously believed to date back only to Seleucid times.”
“The result of previous excavations revealed that a Seleucid city was built on the remains of a prehistoric settlement…”
In the fifth season of excavation, 12 trenches were carefully dug based on speculation and discoveries made during the previous four seasons… however, the season brought some new clues to the ancient sanctuary.
In 1943, archaeologists uncovered an ancient inscription measuring 85 by 36 centimeters and containing 30 lines in Greek, urging the people of Nahavand to obey government laws. The inscription indicates the existence of the Laodicea Temple, built by the Seleucid king Antiochus III, who ruled Asia Minor. the Great (223-187 BC) for his wife, Queen Laodicea.
Two of the inscriptions, as well as four bronze statuettes excavated on site, are on display at the National Museum of Iran in downtown Tehran. And column capitals and bases are currently used as decorations in Nahavand’s Hajian Bazaar and several other parts of the city.
Antiochus was the foremost of the Seleucids. After making Parthia, in what is now northeastern Iran, and Bactria (an ancient country in Central Asia) vassal states, he fought successfully against the Egyptian king Ptolemy V and in 198 B.C. the possession of all of Palestine and Lebanon.
He later got into conflict with the Romans, who conquered him in 191 BC. at Thermopylae and 190 B.C. at Magnesia (today Manisa, Turkey). As a price for peace, he had to give up all his dominions west of the Taurus Mountains and pay costly tributes. Antiochus, who had restored the Seleucid Empire earlier in his reign, eventually lost his influence in the eastern Mediterranean by failing to recognize the rising power of Rome.
The Seleucid Empire was a Hellenistic state ruled by the Seleucid dynasty, which ruled from 312 B.C. to 63 BC BC inventory. Seleucus I Nicator founded it after the partition of the Macedonian Empire, which was greatly expanded by Alexander the Great. Seleucus received Babylonia (321 BC) and from there extended his dominion to much of Alexander’s Middle East. At the height of its power, the empire included central Anatolia, Persia, the Levant, Mesopotamia and modern-day Kuwait, Afghanistan, and parts of Pakistan and Turkmenistan.