Images of Iran
|by John Walker
Prior to the Arab conquest of Persia and the introduction of Islam in the 7th century AD, Zoroastrianism was the predominant religion in the region. Behind the cliff face containing the tombs at Naghsh-é Rostam is this Zoroastrian fire-temple which is believed to date from Achaemenian times (559–330 BC). An eternal flame would have burned in the room behind the square opening in at the front (to which the remains of the stairs ascend), and water was directed to flow around the bottom, which is situated well below ground level. Story has it that at the time of the Arab conquest, Zoroastrian faithful removed the eternal flame to a safe location and buried the temple in dirt to hide it from the Arabs, resulting in its preservation to modern times. Zoroastrianism is practiced to the present day by a tiny minority (about 100,000) of Iranians.