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HomeArchaeologyAstrolabe Tile Fragments Recovered from the Lambsar Castle of the Hashshasins

Astrolabe Tile Fragments Recovered from the Lambsar Castle of the Hashshasins

Lambsar Castle, representing the gargantuan fortress in the widespread ‘Assassin’s Creed’ franchise, has yielded gorgeous astrolabe tile fragments throughout excavations. Located in the Central Alburz mountains in Iran, south of the Caspian Sea, it was one of the fortifications utilized by Nizari Ismaili, chief of a sect that established the Nizari or Alamut State (1090-1273 AD). The tile fragments, supposedly half of an astrolabe modelling the universe, are in a beautiful combine of turquoise, mild blue, white, and black, and date to the Middle Islamic interval.

Examining the Finds and the Lambsar Castle Fortification

The research and archaeological survey, performed by Iranian archaeologists, was led by Kambiz Kabiri, studies Tehran Times . The tiles had been positioned in the fortress’s western tower as half of a structural research to strengthen the foundations and conduct restoration works utilizing ‘existing collapsed masonry’. An adobe wall with a stone basis behind a spherical tower was additionally recognized throughout the excavation.

Lambsar Fort, picture from the south. (Mehrzad/CC BY 3.0)

Lambsar Fort, image from the south. (Mehrzad/ CC BY 3.0 )

In its heyday, the fortress was a serious stronghold of the Nizari state, whose followers had been known as Assassins or Hashshashins (that means cannabis people who smoke/customers, maybe the origin of the phrase ‘assassin’). Strategically constructed between extraordinarily deep valleys that encompass the fortress, accessing it from the east and west sides are almost inconceivable. The gargantuan constructing is 190 meters (623 toes) in its width, and consists of two huge-layered parapets, with 1.2 meters (3.93 toes) huge reduce stone partitions.

The fortress was totally outfitted to courageous the extremities of climate, with wealthy water reservoirs and grain shops in the south and southeast of the advanced. High towers guard each finish of the advanced, with a sturdy water system in place that may nonetheless be seen by vacationers. The north facet additionally possesses the remnants of an enormous constructing with 4 smaller extensions dealing with the east.

Top view of one of the sections of Lambsar Fort, showing walls which were up to 1.2 meters thick. (Soroush90gh, CC BY-SA 3.0)

Top view of one of the sections of Lambsar Fort, exhibiting partitions which had been as much as 1.2 meters thick. (Soroush90gh, CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The Hashshashins: A Guerrilla Sect That Feared None

The Assassins, additionally known as Batiniyya, Ta’limiyya, Isma’iliyya, Nizariyya, had been a fidā’i navy group based by Hassan-I Sabbah (AD 1050 – 1124), studies Tehran Times . A Fatimid doc written by Caliph al-Amir round 1120 AD additionally refers to them as the Hashshashin. Their modus operandi had been espionage missions and assassinations of key enemies and political opponents in public – this included three caliphs, a ruler of Jerusalem, and a number of other Muslim and Christian leaders, amongst others.

Their very formation got here from the authentic schism in Islam in the seventh century, which had brought on a divide between the Shias and the Sunnis. The Ismailis had been Shias, who emerged from an influence wrestle inside the Shia fold itself that had brought on Prince Nizar to flee into the Persian mountains. They had been at all times organized as a minority quantity or group defending themselves in opposition to a lot bigger teams.

This led to the formation of a quantity of strategic, self-sufficient fortresses, unconventional techniques and psychological warfare. Lambsar Castle was one such fortification, however the state was centred round the important Alamut Castle, which might function a central base from which different missions had been launched. The most important downside with reconstructing the historical past of the Ismailis has been hostile or overseas historic sources.

In Farhad Daftary’s work on the Ismailis, he explains how regardless of being occupied with survival on this hostile setting, the Ismailis developed a complicated outlook and literary custom. They elaborated their teachings in response to altering circumstances as witnessed by archaeological finds – manuscripts, paperwork, and scientific devices aplenty.

While surviving onslaughts from a number of hostile neighbors, together with the Mongols, in opposition to whom the Ismailis had been the final line of protection in Persia, it was a cholera epidemic in 1257 which led to the fall of the fort. Combined with a sustained assault from the Mongols underneath Hulaku Khan, who ordered the fort to be ruined and all survivors of the epidemic to be beheaded, Lambsar was totally deserted. There had been two brief lived makes an attempt by surviving Ismailis to recapture the fort in 1275 and 1389, however these proved to be unsuccessful.

Top picture: Astrolabe tile fragments recovered at Lambsar fortress. Source: ILNA / Tehran Times

By Sahir Pandey


ABU. 2022. Ancient fortress excavation yields astrolabe, tile fragments . Available at:



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