Iwan-e Karkheh

Walls of Iwan-e Karkheh

Walls of Iwan-e Karkheh

Iwan-e Karkheh” is the name of a region west of modern Andimeshk (Khuzestan), and is also the name given to the ruins of an ancient city, largely unexplored by archaeologists. Yet, the first conclusions were intriguing. It is a Sasanian city, founded in the fourth century and surrounded by a large wall of about 4×1 km. The enceinte can be seen over large distances. The archaeologists also found a building, perhaps a palace, with a cross-vault of a type that was to become popular in churches but has not been attested earlier than Iwan-e Karkheh.

I was attracted to the site because I had read that it had been converted into a garbage dump, and wanted to see it before it would be destroyed. But the site turned out to be not threatened at all. In all countries of the Near East, people throw away their waste along the roads. Garbage can be seen everywhere, and I have heard in both Syria and Iran the joke that it’s not garbage at all – the farmers grow plastic on their fields. Iwan-e Karkheh is not exceptionally dirty; in fact, it seems to be well protected by the police post in the northeast.

The city must have looked something like Bishapur, but there is, apart from the wall, not much to be seen. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our visit and received an inevitable invitation from a nearby farmer. I do not know whether to recommend a visit, but if you decide to go, take the road from Andimeshk to Ahvaz, turn to the right to Deloran, and after about fifteen kilometer, when the road forks and the Deloran road leads to the right, turn to the left. By then, you will already have seen the walls. Your satellite photo is here.

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