Long-lost ancient temple discovered in Iraq
Local village people in the Kurdistan region or northern Iraq have just made a remarkable discovery – the long-lost temple of the city of Musasir, dedicated to the god Haldi. According to a report in Live Science, the temple dates back over 2,500 years to a time period when the Assyrians, Scythians, and Urartians, were all vying for control over the area.
Villagers first stumbled upon the ancient remains back in 2005, and since then Dlshad Marf Zamua, a doctoral student at Leiden University in the Netherlands, has been carrying out archaeological fieldwork in the region, resulting in the discovery of life-size human statues, the bronze statuette of a wild goat, and column bases from the ancient temple dedicated to Haldi.
The statues, which date back to the 6 th and 7 th century BC, are up to 7.5 feet tall and are made of limestone, basalt or sandstone. They all show bearded males, some of whom are holding a cup in their right hand with their left hand on their stomach. Marf Zamua explained that the statues would have originally been erected above burials. "It is art and ritual of nomads/pastorals, especially when they [buried] their chieftains," he said.
One of the statues found in Kurdistan. Credit: Dlshad Marf Zamua
Haldi, the god whom the ancient temple is dedicated to, was the national god of the ancient kingdom of Urartu, which ruled the plateau around Lake Van, now eastern Turkey, from about 900 to about 600 BC. Haldi was represented as a man, with or without wings, standing on a lion.
Ancient depiction of the god Haldi, Erebuni Fortress (782 BC), Yerevan. Source: Wikipedia
An ancient relief discovered in Kurdistan shows that the Urartian temple at ancient Muṣaṣir dedicated to Haldi and to the goddess Bagbartu, was captured and plundered by Sargon II of Assyria in 714 BC. The temple of Haldi was considered so important that after the Assyrians looted it, the Urartu king Rusa I was said to have ripped his crown off his head before killing himself. The location of the temple has long been a mystery, but with the discovery of the column bases, Marf Zamua holds high hopes that the rest of the temple may soon be discovered.
Featured image: A 19th-century drawing of an ancient relief that depicts the sacking of the temple of Haldi by the Assyrians was also discovered at the archaeological site in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Credit: Drawing by Eugène Flandin, in public domain