Friday, May 13, 2022

Turkish Neo-Assyrian panel depicts Aramean gods

PARIETAL PETROGLYPHS: Fertility cult complex discovered under Turkish home dates to the Iron Age. It was almost destroyed by modern looters (Emily Staniforth, Live Science).
"The finding bears witness to the exercise of Assyrian hegemony in the region in its early phases," one of the study's authors Selim Ferruh Adalı, an associate professor of ancient history at the Social Sciences University of Ankara, told Live Science in an email. "The wall panel contains a depiction of divine procession with previously unknown elements, with Aramaic writing to describe some of the deities while combining Neo-Assyrian, Aramaean and Syro-Anatolian divine iconography."


Four of the eight deities depicted on the panel could not be identified, according to the study. The Aramaic inscriptions label three of the gods: the storm, rain and thunder god Hadad; his consort Atargatis, a goddess of fertility and protection; the moon god Sîn; and the sun god Šamaš. The drawing of Atargatis is the earliest known depiction of this goddess, the principal goddess of Syria, in this region, the researchers added.

This discovery is very welcome. Information on the ancient Aramean pantheon is hard to come by. Cross-file under Aramaic Watch.

The underlying article in the journal Antiquity is online, apparently open access, with Cambridge Core: An Assyrianised rock wall panel with figures at Başbük in south-eastern Turkey (Mehmet Önal, Celal Uludağ, Yusuf Koyuncu and Selim Ferruh Adalı)


The Neo-Assyrian Empire of the early first millennium BC ruled over the ancient Near East. South-eastern Anatolia was controlled through vassal city-states and provincial structures. Assyrian governors and local elites expressed their power through elements of Assyrian courtly style. Here, the authors report a rare processional panel recently discovered at Başbük in south-eastern Turkey. Incised on the rock wall of a subterranean complex, the panel features eight deities, three with associated Aramaic inscriptions. The iconographic details and Syro-Anatolian religious themes illustrate the adaptation of Neo-Assyrian art in a provincial context. The panel, which appears to have been left unfinished, is the earliest-known regional attestation of Atargatis, the principal goddess of Syria c. 300 BC–AD 200.

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