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Basalt stele revealed during excavations in Southeast Turkey

Unknown ancient god with astral symbols discovered on stele at cult site in Turkey

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An unidentified, ancient bearded god with astral symbols has been uncovered during an excavation of a sanctuary near the ancient city of Doliche in Southeast Turkey.

The excavation team of 60 researchers and archaeologists from University of Münster and Germany’s Cluster of Excellence has been investigating a 2,000-year-old cult site. The sanctuary’s grounds reveal much about the continuity of religious beliefs over time, as it is made up of various constructions and renovations of different time periods – from a wall from the Iron Age, and the Roman-age foundations from 2nd century A.D., through to its use as a Christian monastery in the time of the crusades. The excavation has revealed finds from all periods of the site’s history, now including a basalt stele featuring a unique Roman relief and depicting an unknown god.

Stele featuring the unknown god

Stele featuring the unknown god. Credit: Peter Jülich, ReligionundPolitik

The stele measures one and a half meters (five feet) and was being used as a buttress in a wall of the Christian monastery on the sanctuary site. Archaeologists suspect the image represents a fertility or vegetation god. AlphaGalileo quotes Dr. Michael Blömer from the Cluster of Excellence, describing the find, “The basalt stele shows a deity growing from a chalice of leaves. Its long stem rises from a cone that is ornamented with astral symbols. From the sides of the cone grow a long horn and a tree, which the deity clasps with his right hand. The pictorial elements suggest that a fertility god is depicted.” The beard composition and arm posture echo back to similar Iron Age depictions.

Excavation director Prof. Dr. Engelbert said of the find in Southeast Turkey, “The image is remarkably well preserved. It provides valuable insights into the beliefs of the Romans and into the continued existence of ancient Near Eastern traditions. However, extensive research is necessary before we will be able to accurately identify the deity,” reports Heritage Daily.

Ruins at the site of the Christian monastery of St. Solomon

Ruins at the site of the Christian monastery of St. Solomon. Credit: Peter Jülich, ReligionundPolitik

Archaeological work will continue as the site is being prepared to make the sanctuary accessible to the public.

Featured Image: Basalt stele revealed during excavations in Southeast Turkey. Credit: Asia Minor Research Centre

By Liz Leafloor



This is historic Armenia, Aintab. And indeed as medieval records testify it is God Vahagn.

there should be some Tri-forces around there has proof!

Yes it is the Armenian god Vahagn and has nothing to do with fertility.

The area is not far from the Commagene and Sophene Hellenistic Armenian kingdoms. It's built under a Assyrian Church but it would be important to understand the two civilizations ancient gods. Some Armenians think its Vahagn but if it were connected to fertility, Ara the Beautiful would make more sense. He also has a direct connection to Assyrians and their queen Shemiramis. OR its Vahagn but it doesn't look like a war god. Once again, it should be taken into consideration, maybe consultations with Armenians because they happen to understand ancient history, unlike Turkish state archaeologists, regardless a wonderful find and I hope for progress.

Vahagn Vishapakagh (Vahagn the Dragon Reaper) or Vahakn (Armenian: Վահագն) was a god of fire and war worshiped anciently and historically in Armenia.
Historian Khorenatsi's report of an ancient song gives a clue to his nature and origin: Ancient Armenian origin of Vahagn's birth song.

In travail were heaven and earth,

In travail, too, the purple sea!

The travail held in the sea the small red reed.

Through the hollow of the stalk came forth smoke,

Through the hollow of the stalk came forth flame,

And out of the flame a youth ran!

Fiery hair had he,

Ay, too, he had flaming beard,

And his eyes, they were as suns!



Liz Leafloor is former Art Director for Ancient Origins Magazine. She has a background as an Editor, Writer, and Graphic Designer. Having worked in news and online media for years, Liz covers exciting and interesting topics like ancient myth, history,... Read More

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