Khwajeh historical site (kooh-e-khaje)
One of the largest mud brick structures of the pre-Islamic period which has covered an area of 40,000 square meters is in the Khwajeh historical site in Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran. Sistan and Baluchistan is steeped in ancient history datable to over 5000 years and boasts of the most significant archeological and historical sites in the country.
Kuh-e Khwajeh (Mount Khajeh) dates back to the Arsacid dynastic era (248 BCE-224 CE) and is a flat-topped black basalt mountain located 30 km southwest of the town of Zabol. It was a seasonal island in the middle of Hamun lake. Unfortunately after a long drought perod, there is no sign of water now.
This mountain is the only natural height left behind in Sistan area, where a citadel with palace, fire temple, pilgrimage centre and graveyard known to locals as the “Suren’s resting place” reminiscent of the past are still in good condition. Also there are number of small temples, in particular a temple believed to belonged to the cult of Mithra, which was the religion of Parthians known to the locals as the “Kouchakchal Ganjeh”, while some believe this section of the edifices were constructed during the Achaemenid dynastic Period.
The ancient site was identifies by Marc Aurel Stein, who discovered a Buddhist monastery at Mount Khwajeh in 1916. Roman Ghirshman pointed out that the art of Mount Khwajeh predates Gandhara art which disproves the widely accepted notion that Buddhism spread from Nepal or Eastern India, and it claimed that Mount Khwajeh was Kapilavastu, the birthplace of Gotama.
The palace and the fire temple belong to Parthian dynastic period. The ruins on the southern slope, dates back to 1st century BCE and it is still known as Kal-e i Rustam as well as Kuk-u Kohzadh, which is denoted to Kofasat the founder of Parthian house of Suren-Pahlav.
Khwajeh Mountain Complex is greatly respected by followers of the three ancient faiths of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam and considered as a holy place. The mountain has been named after the mausoleum of “Khwajeh Mehdi“, one of the sympathizers of Alavi rulers, which is situated on this mountain, but its’ pre-Islamic name was Kuh-i Ushidā.
The oldest and by far the most important structure of the site is an ancient fortress on its eastern slope, called by different names such as the Rostam castle, the Kāferūn castle, Kohan-Dež, etc. Unique murals had decorated the walls of the fortress, few of which have survived.
Sistan, known as the birthplace of Iranian hero Rostam, has very strong associations with Zoroastrianism. According to Zoroastrian tradition, Lake Hamun was the keeper of Zoroaster’s seed. And when the world’s end is at hand, three maidens will enter the lake, and afterwards will give birth to the Saoshyant (the Zoroastrian’ Messiah) who will then be the “final saviours” of mankind.
To the Christians believe that upon Christ’s birth at the Lord’s house three Magi standing on this mountain and watching the light emanating from this divine prophet acknowledged their faith in Jesus.
There are also three bas-reliefs belonging to the Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE), depicting horse riders, which were carved on one of the walls of the castle. The reliefs are the only ones made of clay remained from the Sasanian dynastic period in this edifice.