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Roman-era altar showing mythical battle discovered

An ancient second century altar built to give its owner protection from a powerful river god has been found in Turkey.

Roman-era altar showing mythical battle discovered
The marble altar, dating to the second century AD, was discovered near the Akçay River
 in Turkey. It shows a nude warrior battling a serpent monster. An inscription written 
in Greek is at top [Credit: Hasan Malay]
It is thought the images etched in the marble depicts the battle between Bargasos, son of Hercules, and a monster similar to the nine headed Hydra his father fought.

The epic battle resulted in the creation of the river god Harpasos, it is believed.

The ancient artifact was discovered by villagers near the Akçay River in Turkey, which was once known as the Harpasos River, according to an article featured in Live Science.

The inscription proposes that Flavius Ouliades strongly believed if he built this altar, Harpasos would answer his prayers 'for a good harvest or protection from flooding or falling down the steep slopes or curing from its healing waters,' wrote Hasan Malay, a professor at Ege University in Turkey, and Funda Ertugrul, an archaeologist with the Aydin Museum.

'According to [a command in] a dream, Flavius Ouliades set this up to the [river] god Harpasos,' the Greek inscription at the top of the altar reads.

The altar is 2 feet (0.61 meters) high and 1.5 feet (0.45 m) wide, and is now in the Aydin Museum in Turkey.

The figure carved into the altar is a man wearing a helmet with a crest, holding a dagger in his right hand and a round shield in his left.

'As a result of a communication with the river god Harpasos in a dream, Flavius Ouliades was requested to dedicate an altar,' wrote Hasan Malay, a professor at Ege University in Turkey, and Funda Ertugrul, an archaeologist with the Aydin Museum, in an article published recently in the journal Epigraphica Anatolica.

Ouliades may have promised to set up the altar if the river god answered the man's prayers 'for a good harvest or protection (for himself or his animals) from flooding or falling down the steep slopes or cure from its healing waters,' wrote Malay and Ertugrul.

'In the right lower corner is the depiction of a curving snake with many heads, 'a called a Hydra, wrote Malay and Ertugrul.

In ancient mythology, Hercules also battled a monstrous serpent as part of his 12 labors for murdering his wife and children.

He fought against the nine headed serpent in a swamp and after Hercules killed it, the swamp drained and turned into fertilized land.

Although the image on the altar could be mistaken for this battle, researchers are sure it's his son.

In ancient mythology, this battle was said to have created the river god Harpasos, researchers say.

'The Harpasos valley, with a zone of sand where numerous arms join the river Harpasos, was comparable to Lerna,' wrote Malay and Ertugrul.

The 'scene on our altar may be a representation of a local myth telling about Bargasos' fight against the ravaging river with many arms,' Malay and Ertugrul wrote.

'After the warrior defeated this monster, 'the river turned into a beneficial deity [the river-god Harpasos], the recipient of our dedication.'

Author: Stacy Liberatore | Source: Daily Mail [December 29, 2015]
TANN

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