Assyrian Bas-Reliefs of Ilam Still Inaccessible

9/7/2009 4:09:00 AM
Assyrian bas-reliefs found in Ilam(Elam).

Abundance of rocks and mountains in Ilam (Elam) province fielded Assyrian bas-reliefs away from the sight of travelers. However, despite the interest in such historical relics and their tourism potential, they remain inaccessible.

Ilam has various historical relics and is viewed as one of the Iranian provinces of historical importance. The bas-reliefs, castles and fire temples are sufficient proof of this claim.

Two bas-reliefs of the province belonging to the Assyrian period deserve special mention, Mehr News Agency reported.

Situated in the northern side of Golgol Village three meters above the ground level, the Golgol Malekshahi bas-relief is a reminder of the Assyrian rule over the region in ancient times.

The rectangular inscription is 135 cm high and 90 cm wide. It bears the image of an Assyrian monarch in the middle. The king has a conic hat, a long coat and a sword in his hand.

Behind the king is the image of a moon crescent and symbols of gods and goddesses who blessed him in winning various battles.

Some experts attribute the inscription to Ashurbanipal who conquered the old Elamite territories and others have linked it to King Sargen II who conquered northwestern and western parts of Iran up to Orumieh Lake.

The text of the stone inscription reveals that Assyrians always eyed the territories of their eastern neighbor--the Elamites--and attacked them whenever possible.

Another Assyrian bas-relief was recently discovered two kilometers north of Heydarabad Village. This bears the image of an Assyrian king, perhaps Ashurbanipal, Shalmansar or Sargen, in a standing posture and wearing a conic hat that narrows at its apex. This kind of hat can also be seen in the Assyrian bas-reliefs of Khorsabad.

Assyrian bas-reliefs found in Ilam(Elam).

In this bas-relief, the king has a sword at its belt manifesting his powers. He carries a spherical object in his hand, which appears to be a symbol of his prowess. His hair touches his shoulders. Since this hairstyle pertains to the post-Sargon era, it is safe to attribute this bas-relief to the period after Sargon’s reign.

The beard of the king in this bas-relief resembles those in the bas-reliefs of Khorsabad. Behind the king are symbols of the sun, moon and stars that symbolize the Assyrian and Mesopotamian gods.

A close look will show that it resembles the bas-relief of Golgol Malekshahi, with a different inscription. It proclaims that the king was appointed by the gods and that whoever removes the inscription will be subjected to the wrath of the gods.

Both inscriptions are situated alongside flowing waters where caravans stopped to freshen up and rest in the shadows of the trees nearby.

It is not clear why Assyrians made two similar bas-reliefs and placed them in locations that have geographical commonalities. Perhaps future archeological studies will shed light on this mystery.

In any event, the presence of these bas-reliefs in Ilam province necessitates more attention of the provincial cultural heritage officials.

Assyria was a political state centered on the Upper Tigris River, in Mesopotamia (Iraq). Its rulers formed a regional empire a number of times in history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur (Ashur).

The name can also refer to the geographic region or heartland where their empire were centered.

During the Old Assyrian period (20th to 15th centuries BC), Assur (Ashur) controlled much of Upper Mesopotamia. In the Middle Assyrian period (15th to 10th centuries BC), its influence waned but was subsequently regained in a series of conquests.

The Neo-Assyrian Empire of the Early Iron Age (911 Ð 612 BCE) expanded further and under Ashurbanipal (668 Ð 627 BC) controlled all of the Fertile Crescent, as well as Egypt for a few decades, before falling to Neo-Babylonian and Persian conquests.

Officials should not only publicize the bas-reliefs but should also establish facilities for accommodating tourists.