A newly discovered Armenian cemetery in Iran dating to the 13th century predates a famous UNESCO site it was found around.
BBC Image: Situated in the province of Zanjan, Soltaniyeh is often cited as one of the crowning achievements of Persian architecture.
According to the Cultural Heritage News Agency:
Discovery of an Armenian written gravestone within the sphere of Soltanieh dome lead to the discovery of a graveyard of Armenians from the Mongolian era by experts of CHTO and Armenian archeologists.
The result of researches revealed the fact that this gravestone is related to Mongolian time, and there is a strong existence possibility of a graveyard near the mentioned sphere.
According to Ghorban Zadeh, discovery of this Armenian graveyard near Abbas Abaad can help to discover the true history of Soltanieh dome.
Built between 1304 and 1313, Soltanieh (or Sultanieh) is Iran’s largest archaeological site. “It is also the world’s third-largest historical site proceeded by Italy’s Santa Maria Delfiore of Florence and Turkey’s Saint Sufia Mosque, of Istanbul.”
According to Press TV, the tombstone that led to the discovery of the Armenian connection read:
“Jesus, the only born to Father, when the time arrives and you return the sleeping soul of the decedent …”
The rest of the inscription which dates back to the Mongolian age (1206-1405) was not legible.
Historical evidence suggests that Sorghaghtani Beki, wife of Tolui Khan and mother of Hulagu Khan, the Mogul ruler, was a Christian woman.
The inscription on the tombstone strengthened the case for the existence of such hallowed site for Armenian residents of the time.
Soltaniyeh was the capital of the Ilkhanid rulers of Persia in the 14th century.
While native Armenian cemeteries are reduced to dust by the state authorities in Iran’s neighboring Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic instead uses every opportunity – and archaeologists wouldn’t complain – to advertise its tolerance toward Christianity by promoting restoration and discovery of Armenian sites and churches.
A list of Christian churches in Iran can be found here.
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