Archaeologists working at the Alamut Castle have recently discovered ruins of a structure which they say may be of an observatory that had been built by the Iranian polymath Khawja Nasir ad-Din Tusi at the castle during the 13th century.
"We have found three hatches opening toward the southeast
where stars begin shining at the end of the day," Alamut Research Center
Director Hamideh Chubak told the Persian service of the Fars News Agency on
She said that the hatches were definitely not for the purpose of keeping watch on the surrounding area.
"The general structure of the Alamut Castle possesses characteristics that indicate it had also been used for observatory activities," she said.
The height of the Alamut Castle is appropriate for observatory activities, which can be done from every side of the structure, Chubak said.
Additionally, Chubak said that astronomers' tools were previously discovered in the castle.
Due to all the abovementioned evidence and the long period
Khawja Nasir ad-Din Tusi lived in the Alamut Castle, archaeologists believe that
he had most likely built an observatory in the castle.
"By comparison with the Margheh Observatory, we learned that Khawja Nasir ad-Din Tusi had built the observatory after the structure at Alamut. Thus, he used the Alamut observatory's plan to construct the Margheh Observatory," she noted.
Outstanding Persian philosopher, scientist, and mathematician Khawja Nasir ad-Din Tusi (1201-1274) spent 26 years studying in Alamut and other castles of the Ismailites, a Shia sect that was most active as a religio-political movement from the 9th to 13th centuries through its subsects, the Fatimids, the Qaramitah, and the Assassins.
With the fall in 1256 of Alamut to Hulegu Khan (c. 1217-1265), grandson of Genghis Khan, Khawja Nasir immediately accepted a position with the Mongols as a scientific adviser.
Profiting from Hulegu's belief in astrology, he obtained support in 1259 to build a fine observatory (completed in 1262) adjacent to Hulegu's capital in Maragheh, now in East Azerbaijan Province.
Located near the northern Iranian city of Qazvin, the Alamut Castle was used by Hassan Sabbah, the founder of the order known as the Assassins, as a headquarters to command a chain of strongholds all over Iran and Iraq, a network of propagandists, a corps of devoted terrorists, and an unknown number of agents in enemy camps and cities, after he and his allies captured it in 1090.
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