Long-lost Musasir Temple found in Azarbaijan

10/24/2005 4:38:20 PM

LONDON, October 23 (IranMania) - Archaeologists recently discovered a temple at the 3000-year-old site of Rabat near the town of Sardasht in Iran's West Azarbaijan Province which they believe is the long-lost Temple of Musasir, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported.

Before the excavations, the German and American archaeologists working at the site had assumed that the temple was probably buried somewhere in Iraq or Turkey.

Musasir was a semi-independent buffer state bordering Mannai between Assyria and Urartu. It was a vassal state of Assyria yet Urartu had some claims over it.

Reza Heydari, an archaeologist of the West Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, said that the recent discoveries, which include a great number of glazed bricks, a brick bearing bas-reliefs of four winged goddesses, and geometrical shapes such as concentric circles inside square frames and chain links of circles, as well as the clay inscriptions left by the Assyrian king Sargon II, indicate that the discovered temple is Musasir Temple.

If future excavations prove that the temple is not the Temple of Musasir, the discoveries will still be very important sources of information for archaeologists seeking to identify all of the forty regional city-states which Sargon captured during his reign, Heydari explained.

King Sargon left many clay inscriptions in Assyrian in which he mentioned his attacks on the Mannai city states. He has indicated the direction of his movement from each point to the next destination.

He has specified all the directions, citing the rivers, forests, waterfalls, and mountains he crossed. Based on these clay inscriptions, the temple must be located at the ancient site of Rabat.

"The route to Rabat taken by Sargon is in the same direction of today's Rabat Tepe. In conquering the region, Sargon captured 6110 people, 1250 sheep, 45 tons of gold, 400 pieces of jewelry, 44 swords and daggers, and several silver cups. These spoils show what a major state it was 3000 years ago," he noted.

Sargon also described his attacks on the region in clay inscriptions which were discovered in the Assyrian capital in Iraq. The attack on the Musasir Temple has also been referred to in the clay inscriptions.

According to the inscriptions, Sargon first plundered the palace and storerooms that belonged to Urzana, the king of Musasir, and then seized the even richer contents of the temple of Haldi, the god of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.

Rabat dates back to some time around 1000 BC. It is one of the richest archaeological sites of northwestern Iran. Archaeologists had estimated the site covered only a four-hectare area, but new studies have extended the area to 25 hectares.

Experts believe that Musasir was an ancient city probably located near the upper Great Zab River between Lake Urmia and Lake Van, the present Turkey. Musasir was particularly important during the first half of the 1st millennium BC and is known primarily from reliefs and inscriptions obtained during the reign of the Assyrian king Sargon II, who captured it in 714 BC.