Parthian Fortress in Iraq Could also be a Sanctuary for Goddess Anahita

On the distant, historic mountain fortress of Rabana-Merquly in Iraqi Kurdistan, German archaeologists have made a shocking discovery. Proof has emerged that means the location had been used as a non secular sanctuary within the first and second centuries BC, by settlers related to the legendary Parthian Empire.

Researchers have concluded {that a} shrine discovered there had almost certainly been dedicated to the traditional Persian water goddess Anahita, a preferred deity from the Zoroastrian faith who was revered by the Parthians.

The excavations that produced the startling new info have been led by Dr. Michael Brown, an archaeologist from the Institute of Prehistory, Protohistory and Historical Close to Japanese Archaeology at Heidelberg College in Germany, and have been supervised by the Iraqi Kurdistan Directorate of Antiquities. The German archaeological staff has simply printed the outcomes of their examine within the historic journal Iraq, detailing a discover that helps make clear the wealthy historical past of the cult of Anahita, which was wildly common in Mesopotamian lands within the latter half of the primary millennium BC.  

Looking for the Blessings of the Divine Female

Amongst their many desirable discoveries on the website of the fortress complicated, Dr. Brown and his staff uncovered what seems to have been a fireplace altar or shrine, positioned adjoining to a pure waterfall. Usually, such an altar would have been used to burn oil or make choices to the deity to which it was devoted.

Aerial view of the Rabana sanctuary, believed to be dedicated to the goddess Anahita ( Rabana-Merquly Archaeological Project / University of Heidelberg)

Aerial view of the Rabana sanctuary, believed to be devoted to the goddess Anahita ( Rabana-Merquly Archaeological Undertaking / College of Heidelberg)

“The proximity to the waterfall is important, as a result of the affiliation of fireside and water components performed an vital position in pre-Islamic Persian faith,” Dr. Brown said in a College of Heidelberg press launch asserting his staff’s findings.

The presence of the shrine strongly means that Anahita was worshipped right here, as she was distinctly related to all of the forces of nature to at least one diploma or one other and was a ceaselessly worshipped determine on the time when the mountain fortress was put in (within the second or third century BC).

Dr. Brown and his staff additionally discovered architectural extensions across the waterfall, exhibiting that it had been used because the centerpiece of a public gathering spot. The altar within the middle of the area would have been reserved for vital ritualistic practices, which might have been designed to pay homage to Anahita, a goddess who was related to fertility, knowledge and therapeutic.

Anahita was first referenced in a set of historic non secular manuscripts generally known as the Avesta. This physique of historic writings functioned as scripture for Zoroastrianism, the traditional faith of fireside with its roots within the second millennium BC which impressed Judaism and Christianity.

What appears to be an altar carved into the rock near the waterfall believed to be associated with Anahita ( Rabana-Merquly Archaeological Project / University of Heidelberg)

What seems to be an altar carved into the rock close to the waterfall believed to be related to Anahita ( Rabana-Merquly Archaeological Undertaking / College of Heidelberg)

Because the consultant of the Divine Female within the Zoroastrian pantheon, Anahita (who was extra formally generally known as Aredvi Sura Anahita) was believed to be the heavenly supply of all of the waters on Earth. She was represented by the Lotus flower, which has lengthy been related to religious regeneration and rebirth.

Anahita’s energy was so nice that she was credited with offering very important help to Ahura Mazda, the first Zoroastrian god. Ahura Mazda relied on her blessings to make sure the success and prosperity of his devoted followers on Earth.

 Portrayed as a girls of unearthly magnificence, Anahita may supposedly tackle the form of a waterfall or a raging river, emphasizing her relationship with water in its strongest and awe-inspiring types. The hearth altar would have represented a sacred union between fireplace and water, as each have been core components that made human life potential.

Navy Outpost  and Non secular Mecca?

Positioned on the southwestern slopes of Mt. Piramagrun within the Zagros Mountains of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, the dual settlements of Rabana and Merquly functioned as navy strongholds in the course of the days of the formidable Parthian Empire, which dominated the area from their seat of energy in historic Iran from 247 BC to 224 AD. The mountain fortress constructed there was a part of a higher complicated of constructions on the closely defended website.

“Twin rock reliefs on the entrances to Rabana-Merquly point out that the fortress was possible related to the ruling dynasty of Adiabene, a vassal kingdom of the Parthian (or Arsacid) Empire in north-east Mesopotamia,” the archaeologists wrote of their journal article.

Ruling a lot of the encompassing area along with the lands of their native Iran (Persia), the Parthian Empire and their allies enthusiastically embraced the cult of Anahita, which is believed to have been launched into Persia within the fourth century BC. The worship of Anahita remained a fixture of Persian religious life till the top of the Parthian reign; after this it was suppressed within the early days of the Sassanid Empire, the final of the pre-Islamic ruling dynasties to carry energy within the area.

Dr. Brown speculates that Mt. Piramagrun might have been chosen as the location for a Parthian fortress as a result of the mountain was already thought-about sacred. The shrine to Anahita may need been constructed in recognition of this reality, however Dr. Brown suggests the altar might have already been there and had merely been repurposed by followers of the Anahita cult after the Parthians moved in.

Within the latter first millennium BC, many non secular shrines have been additionally acknowledged as dynastic cult websites honoring the present king and his ancestors. Worshippers understood the twin objective of such a website, figuring out they have been paying tribute to a robust god or goddess and to one in all their representatives in human type.

On this case the goddess is believed to be Anahita, though Dr. Brown admits this can’t be said with 100-percent certainty. On the very least, the presence of the non secular sanctuary subsequent to the mountain fortress does spotlight the complexities of historic Mesopotamian cultures, the place religious and earthly considerations have been routinely merged.

 “Even when the cult website can’t be definitively attributed to the water goddess Anahita as a result of lack of comparable archaeological finds for direct comparability,” Dr. Brown defined, “the Rabana sanctuary nonetheless gives us with an enchanting glimpse into the regional sacral and geopolitical interconnections in the course of the Parthian period.”

Prime picture: Aid depicting an unknown man on the twin fortress of Rabana-Merquly. Was the location additionally a sanctuary to the water goddess Anahita? Supply: Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg) / CC BY-SA 4.0.

By Nathan Falde

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