Sunday, May 11, 2008


I found a picture of an Assyrian bas relief in a kind of travel guide/hotel brochure I bought in a hotel in Sulemaniyah. Intrigued, I asked many people where this might be found, but nobody knew... My Kurdish friends could only read the Kurdish introduction and tell me that it was called Halamata and that it was dated at about 704 BC. I searched for Halamata online, but only found two sites which told me that it is near Dohuk (about 20 minutes actually). So this last weekend, I went to Dohuk to find that Halamata is located halfway up a mountain!

The above photo is of the peshmerga's hut on top of the mountain. We stopped here and one of the peshmerga came with us to help us locate the site.
Above is the other peshmerga watching us start the descent.
I include this photo only because I was rather taken with the wild poppies and the view of Dohuk from above.
Finally, we found Halamata! There were three sections each containing about 9 figures; 8 facing left, and one at the front who appeared to be receiving them... a king receiving the Gods? One of those internet source suggested that it might have been sculpted to commemorate a military triumph. The above photo is from the center segment.
A closer view of the right segment of the relief (this one taken by Tiziana). Here you can see that the gods (do the starred disks above their heads indicated that they are gods?) are standing on the backs of animals that appear to be part horse, part lion and I am not sure, but they might be winged. That source further suggested that the gods might include; Adad (a storm god - although I saw none holding a lightning bolt nor an axe), Ashur (god of war- holds an arrow), Enlil (god of the sky), Ishtar (queen of the night? goddess of love and war?), Sun and more...

Anyway, it is shame that someone had defaced some of the work with blue spray paint. One entire image in the left segment was painted blue. Why is it that people here are so uninterested? Is it because historic places not so interesting as potential picnic sites or modern buildings? Is it because these images are not Kurdish in origin? Anyway, I really wish that Mosul wasn't so dangerous as I want to see more; the Assyrian palaces in Ninevah for starters!

1 comment:

Aram said...

its not because the images are not Kurdish... is just they are still dont know how valuable these historic places are!! there are some other beautiful historical places in Bamo Mountains in Darbandixan district near Suley, same they are badly damaged.. its a big shame why they do this, it really makes me sad..