Ritual Site Dedicated to Mesopotamian War God Discovered in Iraq
In Iraq, archaeologists discovered a 5,000-year-old sacred plaza where sacrifices were performed to honour a Mesopotamian warrior-god. The team working at the Telloh site believes it was used for feasts, animal sacrifices, and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero-god of war, hunting, and weather.
Inside the pit were cups, bowls, jars and animals bones that experts say are the remains from animal sacrifices. However, a bronze object shaped like a duck was also found that may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, marshlands and aquatic birds, LiveScience reported.
The ritual site is located in what was once Girus, which was the city of ancient Sumer -one of the earliest cities in the world. The area has been of interests to archaeologists for years, as it holds important Sumerian remains and artifacts.
Recently experts have been investigating the center of Girsu where the temple of Ningirsu was once standing.
Here they have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and spouted vessels, all which have been damaged over time.
There was also a trove of animal bones hiding under the dirt, which archaeologists believe are remains from the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit.
A bronze figurine that resembles a duck was also discovered, which the team, who told LiveScience in an email, believes may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, marshlands and aquatic birds, along with a vase inscribed with text about the goddess.
Sebastien Rey, director of the British Museum’s Tello/Ancient Girsu Project, and Tina Greenfield, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Saskatchewan, led that excavation at the site.
Because a thick layer of ash was found lying the ground, the team speculates massive feasts were held in the area.
These clues connects the area to the place ‘where according to the cuneiform texts religious festivals took place and where the population of Girsu gathered to feast and honour their gods,’ Rey and Greenfield said in the email.
Clay tablets, also known as Cuneiform tablets found at Girsu describe residents holding religious ceremonies in the sacred plaza.
The text tells of a religious feast in honor of Ningirsu that was held twice throughout the year and lasted for three or four days, Rey and Greenfield explained.
WHAT WAS ANCIENT MESOPOTAMIA?
A historical area of the Middle-East that spans most of what is now known as Iraq but also stretched to include parts of Syria and Turkey.
The term ‘Mesopotamia’ comes from Greek, meaning ‘between two rivers’.
The two rivers that the name refers to are the Tigris river and the Euphrates.
Unlike many other empires (such as the Greeks and the Romans) Mesopotamia consisted of several different cultures and groups.
Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilisations rather than any single civilisation.
Mesopotamia is known as the ‘cradle of civilisation’ primarily because of two developments: the invention of the ‘city’ as we know it today and the invention of writing.
Thought to be responsible for many early developments, it is also credited with the invention of the wheel.
They also gave the world the first mass domestication of animals, cultivated great swathes of land and invented tools and weaponry.
As well as these practical developments, the region saw the birth of wine, beer and demarcation of time into hours, minutes, and seconds.
It is thought that the fertile land between the two rivers allowed hunter-gathers a a comfortable existence which led to the agricultural revolution.