SOAS University of London

Brunei Gallery, SOAS University of London

Masjid-e Suleiman and Bard-e Nechandeh

The so-called ‘Mosque of Solomon’, Masjid-e Suleiman, is more famous now as the area where Middle East oil was first found. However, it is also an important archaeological site.

The description of the ruins given by Major Rawlinson (famous for deciphering the cuneiform at Behistun) “greatly excited [the] curiosity” of Layard; though the latter, when he finally visited, described them as “though probably of a remote epoch . . really very insignificant”.

Later, Roman Ghirshman, of the French Délégation Archéologique en Iran, had a ‘gentlemans agreement’ with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company to carry out “une modeste mission archéologique” at Masjid-e Suleiman and the neighbouring Bard-e Nechandeh. Several expeditions found a range of exciting remains, including from the Seleucid, Parthian and Sassanian eras. All the images in the following sections are from: Terrasses Sacrées de Bard-è Nechandeh et Masjid-i Solaiman. R Ghirshmann, MDEAN, 1976.

From these, Girshmann produced a series of panoramic ‘reconstructions’ - from a series of historical eras - of the impressive and gargantuan terraces of both Masjid-e Suleiman and Bard-e Nechandeh. Some are shown here:

The team found some splendid artefacts – including temples of both Heracles and Athena – at Masjid-i Solaiman and Bard-e Nechandeh. Some of these are now in the Louvre, others in Tehran Museum. A tiny sample of the finds at Masjid-i Solaiman are shown here: