The Helmand Sistan Project
Key Sites

Temple 215

Latitude: 30.51387732   Longitude: 62.03260473
Enlarged satellite view

Map Number: 26  Go to the MAP

A large Zoroastrian fire temple with fine, heavily plastered walls and flooring was found at the south edge of the Sar-o-Tar sand dunes on a low rise in the flood plain. Excavated in 1973, coins found here and carbon-14 samples indicate it was built in the Parthian period and was filled with sand shortly after abandonment in the 3rd or 4th century CE. The site is built around a central shrine room that probably contained a portable hearth to conduct fire ceremonies. Around the central room was an ambulatory walkway, an essential feature in fire temple architecture, and a large iwan on the eastern side. Wings on three other sides and an adjacent building were used for pilgrims and temple personnel and for storing offerings.

The Parthian fire temple labeled Temple 215. The northern wing is badly eroded, visible only as lines on the modern ground surface, but the walls of the central shrine room (upper center) and entry iwan (left) are preserved as high as 8 m after being filled with sand shortly after the building was abandoned.
Excavating meters of sand from the central shrine room of Temple 215.
Looking into the central shrine room of the fire temple from the eastern iwan. Floors and walls were carefully and heavily plastered numerous times. A probe beneath the final plastered floor of the shrine room, seen here, uncovered 30 cm of alternating layers of ash, dust, and soil. The lack of substantial ash on the plastered surface suggests that the fire altar itself was portable.