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Fire Temple at ancient city of "Ragha" Ray
near Tehran, Iran (archeological site of Mill Tappeh)

On the beautiful spring morning, May 14, 2003, I was happy to see the hectic traffic of Tehran behind me on the road toward Varamin. Gradually the view of city buildings was replaced with pleasant view of barley farms. The small direction sign "Ray Fire Temple" showed my destination..

Could this place be the heart of ancient "Ragha?" outside modern city of Ray, Ragha is mentioned in Avesta and several ancient Persian texts for its importance.

This historic site is called Mill Tappeh,  Tappeh meaning mound in Farsi.

Arial view of Mill Tappeh, the site of Ray Fire Temple, near Tehran, Iran

Scaffolding and roofs indicate recent excavation work on this site, but archeologists are nowhere to be seen. The guard on duty explained that due to budget cuts work stopped two years ago.

A small building housed artifacts and other findings from this site. I could get permission to visit the site and storage rooms in the building.


Archeological site of Mill Tappeh, the site of Ray Fire Temple

On top of the mound remnants of a large Taq is still standing. In ancient times it housed the altar containing the immortal fire.

The Taq could be easily seen from a distance serving the main purpose of major fire temple.


Remnants of a large Taq holding the ever burning fire altar.

Remains of a multi-storey temple are still standing on the mound. A long and narrow corridor takes the visitor from one side to the opposite side of the temple. I can not guess what purpose this tunnel served in ancient times.

Fallen columns and fragments of building ornament stucco pieces cover the excavation site.

One does not need to be an expert to see the immense importance of this temple, perhaps to the entire Ragha region.

Corridors , fallen columns, and stucco ornaments are  

Inside the site storage room, now serving as small museum one can see artifacts excavated from this site.

The first and the most striking item is a full size fish made of stucco; it seems to be a building ornament.

Perhaps the great reverence for water in Zarathushti religion has given the fish an important place in decorating the temple.

A fish made of stucco as building ornament is excavated.

Large pieces of building ornament show decoration with leaves and other plant material on temple building.

Building ornaments in leaves and other plant forms

Items found in excavation are usual ceramic pot and oil lamp.

Artefacts found in excavation -- ceramic container, oil lamp

Outside the storage rooms three large ceramic containers are standing in the hallway. Barley and wheat remnants were found in two containers, and the third one was found full of Sassanian silver coins -- perhaps donations made by its ancient visitors.

Well, before leaving the site, I prayed at the temple's altar that one day excavations continue to help this magnificent temple reveal more about itself and its importance.

Large ceramic containers were excavated.