MARAGHA, a town of Persia in the province of Azerbaijan, on the Safi River, in 37 23' N., 46 16' E., 80 m. from Tabriz. Pop. about 16,000. It is pleasantly situated in a narrow valley running nearly north and south at the eastern extremity of a well-cultivated plain opening towards Lake Urmia, which lies 18 m. to the west. The town is encompassed by a high wall ruined in many places, and has four gates. Two stone bridges in good condition, said to have been constructed during the reign of Hulaku Khan (1256-1265), and since then several times repaired, lead over the Safi River on the western side of the town. The place is surrounded by extensive vineyards and orchards, all well watered by canals led from the river, and producing great quantities of fruit for exportation to Russia. On a hill west of the town are the remains of a famous observatory (rasad) constructed under the direction of the great astronomer Nasr- uddin of Tus. The hills west of the town consist of horizontal strata of sandstone covered with irregular pieces of basalt and the top of the hill on which the observatory stood was made level by taking away the basalt. The building, which no doubt served as a citadel as well, enclosed a space of 380 yds. by 150, and the foundations of the walls were 4$ to 5 ft. in thickness. The marble, which is known throughout Persia as Maragha marble, is a travertine obtained at the village of Dashkesen (Turkish for " stone-breakers " (about 30 m. north-west from Maragha. It is deposited from water, which bubbles up from a number of springs in the form of horizontal layers, which at first are thin crusts and can easily be broken, but gradually solidify and harden into blocks with a thickness of 7 to 8 in. It is a singularly beautiful substance, being of pink, greenish, or milk-white colour, streaked with reddish, copper-coloured veins. An analysis of the marble gave the following result: calcium carbonate, 90-93; magnesium, -75; iron, 1-37; manganese, 4-34; calcium sulphate, 2-30; calcium phosphate, -24 (R. T. Giinther, Geog. Journ. xiv. 517).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)