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Le rayonnement oriental des Parthes

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The difficult problem of Chorasmian Fire Altar
Alison Betts (Sydney)

15 avril 2010

It is generally agreed that the influence of Zoroastrianism can be seen in the material remains from ancient Chorasmia. There is, however, much less consensus on the identification of Chorasmian Fire Temples. Part of this debate concerns the identification of fire altars. There is, so far, an absence of the free-standing altars of Iranian type, but it has been suggested by archaeologists working in this field that in Chorasmia these were replaced by altars placed on a bench set into or against a wall. Excavators at the “Kushan Period” site of Toprak-kala identified numerous such ‘altars’ within the so-called palace complex, but this identification has been disputed by Grenet who suggests that these ‘altars’ may have served the more mundane purpose of providing heat and/or light. Excavations at the cult complex of Tash-k’irman-tepe have uncovered a number of ‘wall altars’, once again raising the question of their true function. Different forms of ‘fire altars’ have also been found in Area 10, the ‘ceremonial complex’, at the major regional centre of Kazakl’i-yakan. This paper will discuss the evidence from Tash-k’irman-tepe and Kazakl’i-yatkan in the light of a broader re-examination of Chorasmian ‘fire altars’.

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Alison Betts Alison Betts (Sydney)

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