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“Building a New Vision of the Past in the Sasanian Empire: The Sanctuaries of Kayānsīh and the Great Fires of Iran”*

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AbstractThis article analyzes how Zoroastrian holy sites as celebrated in the Avesta or elaborated in later, related traditions, emerged as important architectural and ritual centers in late antiquity. Instead of ancient foundations whose details were lost in the depths of time, this paper argues that some of the holiest sanctuaries of the Zoroastrian religion, including Ādur Gušnasp, Ādur Farnbāg, Ādur Burzēn-Mihr, Ādur Karkōy and Lake Kayānsīh, emerged no earlier than the Arsacid era, and were actively manipulated and augmented by the Sasanian dynasty. These ‘Avestan’ sites of memory emerged at locales with no previous Achaemenid monumental construction, but did benefit from beautiful and dramatic natural features. In late antiquity these natural features, usually mountains or lakes, took on the names and significance of the sacred geography of as found in the Avesta. The Sasanian dynasty in particular built grand monumental complexes as its sovereigns sought to take control of these ancient Iranian traditions.

Affiliations: 1: University of Minnesota


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