عنوان مقاله [English]
Unlike Sasanian period, we haven’t got more information about Zoroastrian burial customs in Islamic period. The early Islamic funerary inscriptions give some information about burial practices in this period. The Yazdgerdi calendar dates on these epitaphs provide an absolute date for them in the first three centuries of the Islamic period. Until recent excavation at Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan weren’t any evidences of Zoroastrian burial customs in Middle Islamic period. In Archaeological excavation of Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan a roofed tower of silence was discovered. Model of this structure before have been found in Bandyian in Dargaz from Sasanian period. In this paper tried to answer three questions about structure and burial custom. What is exactly the feature of Zoroastrian burial custom in Middle Islamic in Iran? What are mutual and different features between Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan and Bandyian towers of silence? What is precisely important of this roofed tower of silence in archaeological studies of Islamic period? Because some mutual features has been supposed influence of Bandyian on Tepeh Qlaeh Khalachan tower of silence. Besides, Zoroastrian mirror communities had Some influences on burial customs. Methodology of present paper is analytical descriptive. Archaeological data of Tepeh Qlaeh Khalachan and Bandyin have been investigated and at the same time, library resources about Zoroastrian burial customs, towers of silence and Zoroastrian communities in Islamic period have been studied. This paper showed tower of silence was a burial custom in Middle Islamic in Iran and had some mutual roots with Bandyian ones. Best example of these mutual features is a roof on these two towers of silence. What it shows roofed towers of silence continued to Middle Islamic period in Iran. Hence it is plausible if someone supposes towers of silence in Yazd, Kerman and Rayy are belonging to the second generation of towers of silence in Iran what is dating to after Middle Islamic period.
Keywords: Zoroastrianism Burial Practices, Tower of Silence, Tepe Qaleh Khalachan, Middle Islamic Period.
A major issue in the archaeology of Islamic period in Iran is nature of Zoroastrians presence in this part of the Iranian history. While both historical sources and archaeological evidences offer a picture of Zoroastrians presence in the four earliest Islamic centuries, such is by no means the case when it comes to the middle part of this period. It would appear that the Zoroastrian presence and the related manifestations in the social context faded out in lockstep with the decline of the early Islamic semiautonomous states and the Ghaznavid and later Seljuk and Khwarazmian dynasties. Yet, with the Mongol Ilkahns seizure of power and their episodic religious tolerance, Zoroastrians would reemerge in the history and resume performing their rituals as a religious minority. References to the existence of these groups in the Ilkhanid society are found in The Travels of Marco Polo (vol. 1, chapter 14), Tarikh-e Mubarak-e Ghazani (Rashīd al-Dīn Fazlollah, 1940: 188) and Tarikh-e Vassaf (Sharaf al-Din Abdollah Shirazi, 1967: 198). Meanwhile, archaeological data have brought into light another aspect of this presence in the same period. A tower of silence assignable to the middle Islamic period was discovered in the course of excavations at the Tepeh-Qaleh Khalachan in Tafresh. Historically speaking, the excavated structure constitutes a vital, unwritten part of the Zoroastrian history of the Middle Islamic Iran and from the archaeological perspective this burial structure has partially solved the drastic problem of the Zoroastrian funeral traditions in the concerned period. Furthermore, given the discovery of a similar structure at the Sasanian site of Bandiyan, comparison of the two structures may provide insights into the structural evolution of towers of silence from Sasanian to Middle Islamic period. It is particularly important because Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan towe of silence is more comparable to its counterpart at Bandiyan from Sasanian period. Both of these towers of silence have been roofed. Here attempted to investigate historical and archaeological aspects of Tepeh Qlaeh Khalachan tower of silence. Beside, tried to compare architectural structure of Tepeh Qlaeh Khalachan and Bandyian to reveal architectural mutual aspects of these towers of silences. Methodology of present paper to this aim is analytical descriptive. In this regard, archaeological data of Tepeh Qlaeh Khalachan and Bandyin have been investigated and compared. At the same time, library resources about Zoroastrian burial customs, towers of silence and Zoroastrian communities in Islamic period have been studied.
The city of Tafresh is located in 162 km southwest of Tehran and 73 km northeast of Arak. Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan is located in northeastern quadrant of this city, in the Khalachan sector. Rising 15‒18 m above the surrounding plain, the site built on a natural rock hump. The only fieldwork in this site is one season of excavation by S. M. Mousavinia. In this season excavator found some evidences of a Middle Islamic tower of silence. The architectural structure of the central part is of indispensable significance as it provides a rare insight into the building plan of towers of silence in the middle Islamic period. Beside, this structure represents a roofed sample of the Zoroastrian towers of silence in Iran what such tower of silence has been discovered just in Bandiyan in Dargaz from Sasanian period. Function and dating of Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan tower of silence have been based on 49 human bone elements and some pottery sherds from Middle-Islamic period.
The lack of information about Zoroastrian burial customs from the 4th to the 7th century is one of the important issues of the archeology of the Islamic era. In archeological excavation in the Tepe Qaleh Khalachan revealed some information about presence of Zoroastrian society and its burial customs in Iran. This Zoroastrian Dakhma is comparable not to its later examples of Yazd and Kerman, but to the Bandyian from the Sassanid period. This case shows the dynamics of the Zoroastrian burial custom and its evolution from the Sassanid to the mid-Islamic centuries in Iran. The location of this site in the geography of Tafarsh, which is a peripheral city compared to the more important centers of Qom and Hamedan, shows that Tafarsh was one of the living centers of religious minorities in the mid-Islamic centuries. Probably, along with the location of Tafarsh, the city being surrounded by passes and mountain ranges is one of the important factors of the life of this religious minority in this geographical area.
With the arrival of Islam and the ensuing shift in population composition from Zoroastrian to Muslim, the disciples of the cult experienced a different and occasionally harsh life depending on the religious attitudes adopted by the contemporary rulers. Despite historical sources and archaeological finds show existence of Zoroastrian communities in the early Islamic period, we hadn’t such finds in the Middle Islamic period in Iran. In archaeological excavation at Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan was discovered a tower of silence. Some human bone elements and pottery sherds have been found in this tower of silence. Beside, based on architectural structure this tower of silence is continuity of Bandyian tower of silence. Thus, we may conclude that the building plans of towers of silence remained almost unchanged during the long period spanning the Sasanian and the middle Islamic period. The most striking aspect of this continuity is the roofed tops of the structures at Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan and Bandiyan. To conclude with, archaeological excavation at Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan has enabled to partially resolve some doubts about the nature of Zoroastrian presence and the related mortuary customs in Iran during the middle Islamic period. Thus, we may interpret the deposition of the dead in towers of silence, an originally Sasanian tradition, as one of the burial patterns employed by Zoroastrians in Iran in this period. Unlike the later instances reported from Yazd, Kerman and Rayy, Tepeh Qaleh Khalachan structurally marks the continuation of Bandiyan tower of silence from Sasanian period.