The Demon House Square Dome, a Newly-Discovered Sassanian Fire Temple

Document Type : Research Article


Associate Professor, Department of Archaeology, Tarbiat Modares University


Fire temples and square domes are undoubtedly of special importance in archeological studies into the religious aspects of the Sassanian era. As Zoroastrian monotheists, Sassanians considered fire as sacred and over five centuries their kings built a large number of fire temples and square domes across the Persian Empire. The newly-discovered square dome called Demon House is one of the most important square domes of the Sassanian era. Citing Pahlavi texts and Avesta, both foreign researchers and Iranian archeologists have introduced it as one of the three major fire temples of the Sassanian age known as Azar-Barzin-Mehr. Though archeological excavations at the site of this dome did not provide enough evidence to prove that claim, studies show it was the nucleus of a greater structure that used to be made up of four stone pillars, a circumambulation corridor, Padiav, a fire-place platform and a waiting room. The location of the square dome in a small stone mound among the heights of Rivand is quite unique and of extraordinary importance in studying Sassanian fire temples. Considering the significance of fire temples in religious studies pertaining to the Sassanian era and since the aforementioned structure had not been subject to any archeological excavation before, an Iranian-Polish archeological team studied the demon house square dome for the first time over two seasons. This paper has introduced the architectural elements discovered in the Demon House square dome and as part of a greater archeological study into religious structures in the Sassanian ear provides some notes about the significance and position of the Azar-Barzin-Mehr fire temple based on Pahlavi texts.