Iranian archeologists have unearthed some architectural structures in Ilam Province that they believe could shed more light on the arrival of Islam in Iran following the Arabs' 7th-century invasion.
During the 9th season of excavation in Dareh-Shahr, west of Iran, the archeological team discovered more sections of an ancient ruined city, named Seimareh. "We have so far excavated four sections of the city, partly revealing passageways and alleys," said Simin Lakpour, head of the excavation team.
"In the first season, we could dig out a mansion and a mosque-looking structure in downtown, though its northern fašade is completely ruined. We managed to unearth its southern fašade," she added.
Lakpour believes this 120-hectare city was most probably built during the early days of the Islam arrival in Iran. Seimareh could have been ruined in a quake, burying intact artifacts which all bear features of the Sassanid and Islamic arts.
Seimareh was discovered in 1983 and since 1996 the archeological works are led by Lakpour, who intends to start the 10th season excavation soon.
Arabs defeated the Byzantine army at Damascus in 635 and then began their conquest of Iran. In 637, the Arab forces occupied the Sassanid capital of Ctesiphon (which they renamed Madain), and in 641-42 they defeated the Sassanid army at Nahavand. After that, Iran lay open to the invaders.
The Islamic conquest was aided by the material and social bankruptcy of the Sassanids; the native populations had little to lose by cooperating with the conquering power. Moreover, the Muslims offered relative religious tolerance and fair treatment to populations that accepted Islamic rule without resistance. It was not until around 650, however, that resistance in Iran was quelled. Conversion to Islam, which offered certain advantages, was fairly rapid among the urban population but slower among the peasantry and the dihqans. The majority of Iranians did not become Muslim until the ninth century.
Although the conquerors, especially the Umayyads (the Muslim rulers who succeeded Muhammad from 661-750), tended to stress the primacy of Arabs among Muslims, the Iranians were gradually integrated into the new community. The Muslim conquerors adopted the Sassanid coinage system and many Sassanid administrative practices, including the office of vizier, or minister, and the divan, a bureau or register for controlling state revenue and expenditure that became a characteristic of administration throughout Muslim lands.
Later caliphs adopted Iranian court ceremonial practices and the trappings of Sassanid monarchy. Men of Iranian origin served as administrators after the conquest, and Iranians contributed significantly to all branches of Islamic learning, including philology, literature, history, geography, jurisprudence, philosophy, medicine, and the sciences.
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