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Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq


Archaeologists have uncovered a 5,000-year-old sacred plaza in Iraq that was used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian warrior-god.

Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq
A sacred plaza has laid hidden in Iraq for 5,000 years that was used for rituals to appease a Mesopotamian
warrior-god and a recent excavation has uncovered its gruesome past. Archaeologists working at the site
 in Telloh discovered the area was used for feasts, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated
to Ningirsu - the hero god of war, hunting and weather [Credit: Tello-Girsu Project,
 Iraq Scheme, The British Museum]



The team working at the site in Telloh believe it was used for feasts, animal sacrifices and other processions dedicated to Ningirsu – the hero god of war, hunting and weather. 

Inside the pit were cups, bowls, jars and animals bones that experts say are the remains from animal sacrifices.

Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq
Here they have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and spouted vessels,
all which have been damaged over time [Credit: S. Rey/Tello/Girsu Project]

However, a bronze object shaped like a duck was also found that may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, marshlands and aquatic birds, LiveScience reported.

The area has been of interests to archaeologists for years, as it holds important Sumerian remains and artifacts.

Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq
The site was used some 5,000 years ago to appease a Mesopotamian war god
[Credit: Tello-Girsu Project, Iraq Scheme, The British Museum]



Recently experts have been investigating the center of Girsu where the temple of Ningirsu was once standing.

Here they have found over 300 ceremonial ceramic cups, bowls, jars and spouted vessels, all which have been damaged over time.

Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq
A photo showing sections of the favissa (ritual pit) that is part of the newly
 found cultic area [Credit: S. Rey/Tello/Girsu Project]

There was also a trove of animal bones hiding under the dirt, which archaeologists believe are remains from the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit.

A bronze figurine that resembles a duck was also discovered, which the team, who told LiveScience in an email, believes may have been dedicated to Nanshe, a goddess associated with water, marshlands and aquatic birds, along with a vase inscribed with text about the goddess.

Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq
There was also a trove of animal bones hiding under the dirt, which archaeologists
believe are remains from the animal sacrifices held in the ritual pit
[Credit: S. Rey/Tello/Girsu Project]



Sebastien Rey, director of the British Museum's Tello/Ancient Girsu Project, and Tina Greenfield, a zooarchaeologist at the University of Saskatchewan, led that excavation at the site.

Because a thick layer of ash was found lying the ground, the team speculates massive feasts were held in the area.

Ancient ritual site of Mesopotamian war god uncovered in Iraq
The area has been of interests to archaeologists for years, as it holds important Sumerian remains
and artifacts. Recently experts have been investigating the center of Girsu where the temple
of Ningirsu was once standing [Credit: Tello-Girsu Project,
Iraq Scheme, The British Museum]

These clues connects the area to the place 'where according to the cuneiform texts religious festivals took place and where the population of Girsu gathered to feast and honour their gods,' Rey and Greenfield said in the email.

Clay tablets, also known as Cuneiform tablets found at Girsu  describe residents holding religious ceremonies in the sacred plaza.

The text tells of a religious feast in honor of Ningirsu that was held twice throughout the year and lasted for three or four days, Rey and Greenfield explained. 


TANN

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