DARRA-YE BARRA (Valley of the lamb), a locality in Fārs province, 2.5 km east-northeast of the Achaemenid royal tombs at Naqš-e Rostam. Several rock-cut monuments are scattered on steep scree and in the cliff on the north side of the valley. They include chambers either hollowed out of the cliff or cut in freestanding blocks; basins and troughs, often called “fire bowls” by archeologists; and platforms of stones and earth. The most outstanding feature, however, is the tallest fire altar so far found in Fārs. It is cut from the living rock in the shape of a cube (4.90 x 2.10 x 3.30 m) without a step (Plate II). A vertical semicircular slab of rock projects above the flat upper surface; on the curved upper surface of this disk and on the top surface of the altar basins have been hollowed out. This monument, which was discovered by ʿAlī Sāmī in the 1950s, has been considered by David Stronach (p. 224, pls. XXI-XXII) among the numerous surviving rock-cut fire altars, though it is very different from the well-known twin altars at Naqš-e Rostam and other monumental examples located in the same region (e.g., at Bāḡ-e Bodra and Kūh-e Šahrak), all of which are provided with steps. As is usual in this part of Fārs, the altar at Darra-ye Barra has been placed in relation to the other monuments (Vanden Berghe, pp. 3-6; Huff), which probably all had funerary functions. Like most of the rock-cut monuments in this area, the altar has been tentatively dated to the Sasanian period.




R. Boucharlat, “Pratiques funéraires à l’époque sassanide dans le sud de l’Iran,” in P. Bernard and F. Grenet, eds., Histoire et cultes de l’Asie centrale préislamique, Paris, 1991, pp. 71-78.

D. Huff, “Zum Problem zoroastrischer Grabanlagen in Fars. I. Gräber,” AMI 21, 1988, pp. 145-76.

ʿA. Sāmī, “Kašf-e čand katība-ye pahlavī. Tang-e bolāḡī, Tang-e čak čak wa ḡayroh,” Gozārešhā-ye bāstān-šenāsī 4, 1959, pp. 1-172.

D. Stronach, “The Kuh-i Shahrak Fire Altar,” JNES 25/4, 1966, pp. 217-27.

L. Vanden Berghe, “Monuments récemment découverts en Iran méridional,” Bibliotheca Orientalis 10/1-2, 1953, pp. 5-8.

(Remy Boucharlat)

Originally Published: December 15, 1994

Last Updated: November 17, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 1, pp. 59-60