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Archaeologists excavate a lamassu at ancient Khursbad

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In a press announcement by the General Authority for Antiquities and Heritage, archaeologists have re-excavated an ancient lamassu at Kursbad, Iraq.

A lamassu is an Assyrian protective deity normally depicted with a blending of human, avian, and either bovine or leonine elements. Most lamassus are shown with a human-like head, a body resembling that of a bull or lion, and wings like a bird.

Assyrian sculpture commonly featured pairs of lamassu positioned at palace entrances, facing both the street and internal courtyards. These imposing figures were depicted in high relief, showcasing a dual perspective that appears to stand still when head on and in motion from the side.

Although lamassu were not typically found as large figures in the low-relief decorations adorning palace rooms – where winged genie figures were more prevalent – they occasionally made appearances in narrative reliefs, seemingly serving as protectors of the Assyrians.

According to the press release, the lamassu was first discovered in 1992 by an Iraqi archaeological mission during excavations at the 6th gate, located in the western part of the ancient city of Khursbad.

Khorsbad was constructed as a new capital city by the Assyrian king Sargon II shortly after he came to the throne in 721 BC. Following Sargon II’s death, his son and successor, Sennacherib, moved the capital to Nineveh, leaving construction of Khursbad incomplete.

Following the lamassu discovery, the head was stolen in 1995, but was later recovered and preserved in the Iraqi Museum. The main body was then reburied to preserve the architectural remains following the Gulf War conflict. This act likely saved the lamassu from destruction, as in 2015 ISIS systematically looted and destroyed much of the remains of Khursbad.

In a joint Iraqi/French mission, a team led by Professor Dr. Ahmed Fakak Al-Badrani have recently re-excavated the lamassu, revealing it for the first time to the world in three decades.

According to Dr. Layth Majid Hussein, Chairman of the General Body for Archaeology and Heritage, the team are currently assessing the condition of the lamassu to determine their next steps.

General Authority for Antiquities and Heritage

Header Image Credit : Mustafa Yahya

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Archaeology

Trove of Roman objects linked to feasting found at Ostia antica

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Archaeologists have uncovered a trove of Roman objects linked to ritual feasting at Ostia antica.

Ostia Antica is an ancient harbour town located at the mouth of the Tiber River. The harbour served as the main port for Rome, transporting goods and people from the coast along the Via Ostiensis.

Archaeologists recently excavated the area of Regio I – Insula XV, a “sacred area” or precinct housing several temples and sanctuaries. At the centre is the temple of Hercules,  a 31 x 16 metre monument which dates from the Republican Era.

Excavations have revealed a substantial well situated at the base of the temple of Hercules. Upon draining the well, it was discovered to hold a significant collection of objects dating from the 1st to 2nd century AD.

Among the objects are various ceramics, miniatures, lamps, glass containers, fragments of marble, and burnt animal bones (pigs and cattle). According to the archaeologists, the trove corresponds with ritual feasting associated with cult at the temple.

In a press statement by the Ministry of Culture: “The discovery of burnt bones confirms that animal sacrifices were carried out in the sanctuary, while the common ceramics, also bearing traces of fire, indicate that the meat was cooked and consumed during banquets in honour of divinity. The remains of one or more ritual meals were thrown into the well, the last ones probably when their function had ceased.”

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Culture

Sources : Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Labyrinthine structure discovered from the Minoan civilisation

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Archaeologists have discovered a monumental labyrinthine structure on the summit of Papoura Hill in Crete.

The discovery was made during the installation of a radar system in preparation for the construction of a new airport in the area.

According to experts, the structure dates from between 2000 to 1700 BC shortly before or at the start of the palaeopalatial Minoan period.

The Minoan civilisation was a Bronze Age culture that emerged on the island of Crete around 3100 BC. The culture is known for the monumental architecture and energetic art, and is often regarded as the first civilisation in Europe.

Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

The chronology of the Minoans is characterised into three distinct phases – Early Minoan (EM), Middle Minoan (MM), and Late Minoan (LM).

The palaeopalatial structure is part of the MMI – II grouping in the Middle Minoan, a period in which the first palaces were built and saw the development of the Minoan writing systems, Cretan hieroglyphic and Linear A.

The structure comprises of 8 concentric stone rings that converge on a central circular building. The entire diameter of the complex measures 48 metres and covers an area of approximately 1800 square metres.

Within the central structure are four designated zones in which radial walls intersect vertically and form a labyrinthine structure. Zones A and B appear to be have the main concentration of human activity, evidenced by the presence of large amounts of animals bones.

According to the experts, this residential area likely had a truncated cone or vaulted appearance and is the first monument of this type excavated in Crete. It can perhaps be paralleled with the elliptical MM building of the Chamezi Archaeological Site, as well as with the so-called circular proto-Hellenic cyclopean building of Tiryns.

The Minister of Culture, said: “This is a unique and highly significant find. Solutions are in place to ensure the completion of the archaeological research and the protection of the monument.”

Header Image Credit : Greek Ministry of Culture

Sources : Greek Ministry of Culture

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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