When you think about the oldest biological creatures alive in the world, you may consider bacteria which in some cases have been frozen and alive for 500,000 years. Although some scientists believe that in order to be considered the oldest, there should be a continuous metabolism in that creature and bacteria cheat nature with the dirty trick of stopping its biological process. Based on this concept, plants are the only winners and we want to introduce you the oldest organism in Iran, which is a Cypress.
The tree is placed in the center of Iran in Abarkouh (Abarqou) city, Yazd province. Aging over 4500 years has made it universally well-known. When you stand in front of the cypress, its beauty and glory will impress you intensely. Not only do tourists come to visit this magnificent tree but also scientists and botanists travel to observe and research about this wonder. People of the city all admire this towering tree and they have lots of old stories to say about it. The poet of Ilkhanid era, Hamdullah Mostofi says: “there’s a cypress in that city, which is famous all over the world”, This shows it has been a wonder even 700 years ago.
Imagine the tree could talk, how interesting it would be to hear about all people or events it has witnessed. Although some scientists estimated that the tree is 4500 years old but recently some botanists from Japan and Russia claim that it can even have 8000 years’ of age. The height of the tree is 25 meters, the perimeter around its bole is 5.11 meters and the cypress type is Mediterranean. There are lots of old trees in Yazd province and we can call it the territory of ancient trees but the Abarkouh cypress has special characteristics, which has made it unique and one of the oldest organism in the world.
The Tree Myths
In the Iranian myths, they believed that the Zoroaster had planted the tree’s seed and promised people it will survive for a long time, that’s why it is also called the Zoroaster’s tree. While some of the historians believe the son of prophet Noah, planted the sapling after the storm. There are only few ancient trees in the world and based on age, Abarkouh cypress is in the second place. In California mountains, “Methuselah” is the name of a tree which is 4800 years old. It’s renowned as the oldest natural heritage and after this, there’s Abarkouh Cypress, which is 4500 years old. The third place belongs to “Alerce”, a 3600-year-old tree in National park of Chili and “Senator”, ranked afterward, which is 3400 years old in the national park of Florida.
Cypress in Iranian Culture
If you take a look at Iranian monuments and high or bas reliefs like Takhte Jamshid, you’ll find the cypress tree design clearly. In Persian culture, cypress is called “Sarv”, it is the symbol of life itself as its leaves never fall and stay green throughout the year. If you notice Iranian miniature and even cloth designs especially “Terme”, which is a kind of Persian cloth, you will see drawings and patterns indicating Sarv.
It’s obvious that the tree’s environment has changed these days, for example there were lots of pomegranates trees around it in the past and these days it’s located in an ordinary city park. There are some fences all around the tree. In fact, people shouldn’t get close to it or touch it as when the soil is condensed due to their feet steps, it won’t be able to absorb water and microorganisms will change. And the minimum distance we can get close to the tree is 2.5 meters.
Other Attractions In Abarkouh
When you travel to Abarkouh, there are also other places to see including Robat Castle, Nezam al Mulki Gate, Darbe Ghale area, Ali Dome, Aziz-al-Din al-Nasafi Tomb, Yakhchal Kheshti and Anthropology Museum. Aghazad mansion and its wind catcher which refers to Qajar era, is also one of these outstanding monuments, you can even see its picture on the 2000 tomans Iranian money. The windcatcher is 18 meters and consists of two floors, which has made it unique among others. Ali Dome, made of stone and plaster, can be a good sample of Seljuk architecture. Some inscriptions, written in Kufic alphabets, exist inside the construction. “Yakhchal” is an ancient type of evaporative cooler in Iran. Yakhchal Kheshti is a perfect example of this ancient technology which has a conical shape and its construction design is stunning.
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