Archaeologists have discovered under a private house in the southeast Turkey A 3,000-year-old unfinished panel dating back to the Iron Age and depicting a procession of deities from different cultures. Of particular interest to researchers was the earliest image of the Syrian goddess of fruitful moisture Atargatis known in this region. The corresponding article was published in the journal Antiquity.
A photo: M.OnalM.Onal
In fact, the study of this artifact began with rescue work carried out to counter the marauders who entered the underground complex in 2017, having made a hole on the first floor of a two-story house in the village of Bashbyuk.
When black diggers were caught by authorities in the fall of 2018, a team of archaeologists carried out a quick rescue excavation to figure out the significance of the underground complex before erosion damaged the site. The chamber, carved into limestone rock, extended about 30 m under the house, inside it was preserved what the researchers describe as “a rare collection in one procession of deities carved on a stone wall” – eight gods and goddesses related to Assyrian culture, which originated hundreds of kilometers east of this place, in Mesopotamia. Although the deities in this procession are depicted according to local traditions, they include gods from regions throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
The researchers argue that “not all of them can be clearly identified”, but some of the gods are provided with explanatory captions in local Aramaic, including Atargatis, drawn in many respects on the model of the more famous goddess Ishtar. This goddess was revered in northern Syria, to a lesser extent among the Canaanites and Phoenicians, but she was especially popular among the Philistines, where she was perceived as the female form of Dagon and, like him, was often depicted with a lower part in the form of a fish body, like the now familiar fabulous mermaids.