Scientists solve mystery of mysterious archaeological symbol dating back to 700 BC in Iraq

Archaeologists explain a mysterious ancient symbol discovered in a 2,700-year-old temple in the Iraqi city of Dur Sharqin that has puzzled experts for more than a century.

A series of “mysterious symbols” appear in temples at various locations in the ancient city of Dur Sharrukin, today known as Khorsabad, in northern Iraq, ruled by Assyrian king Sargon II (721-704 BC). .

The series of five symbols (lion, eagle, bull, fig tree, and plow) first became known to the modern world through drawings published by French excavators in the late 19th century. Since then, different ideas have been thrown around about what these symbols mean.

They have been interpreted as reflecting imperial power and have been compared to Egyptian hieroglyphics, which were suspected of representing the names of kings.

Dr. Martin Worthington, of the Trinity College of Languages, Literatures and Cultures in Dublin, proposed a new solution to these symbols in a paper published in the American School of Oriental Research on April 26. .

Worthington, who specializes in the languages ​​and civilizations of ancient Mesopotamia, including the Babylonian, Assyrian, and Sumerian civilizations, notes that the Assyrian words for the five symbols (lion, eagle, bull, fig tree, and plow) include this sequence. is the sound that indicates the Assyrian form of the name Sargon. He also pointed out that the same name is sometimes written in shorthand using only his three symbols (lion, tree, and plow), as seen in the ruins.

Dr Worthington said: “The study of ancient languages ​​and cultures is full of mysteries of all shapes and sizes, and in the ancient Near East it was not uncommon to encounter mysterious symbols on the walls of temples.” I commented.

According to Dr. Worthington, each of the five symbols can also be understood as a constellation. Therefore, based on the fact that the word iṣu (tree) is similar to the word isu (jaw), the lion represents the constellation Leo, the eagle represents the eagle constellation, and the fig tree represents the now-defunct constellation It represents the “jaw”. .

“The effect of the five symbols was to hold Sargon’s name forever in the sky, and it was a clever way to immortalize the king’s name,” Worthington added. “Of course, the idea of ​​great people writing their names on buildings is not unique to ancient Assyria.”

Ancient Mesopotamia, or modern-day Iraq and its neighboring regions, was inhabited by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians, and others, and is explored through the abundance of cuneiform writing that survives today.

In fact, writing may have been invented there around 3400 BC. Thus, although Sargon’s scholars were unaware of it, by creating a new code, they resonated with Mesopotamian history over a thousand years ago.

Dr. Worthington explained: “I can’t prove my theory, but the fact that it works with both the five-symbol sequence and his three-symbol sequence, and that the symbols can also be understood as culturally appropriate combinations, makes me It fascinated me a lot.”

He added: “This part of the world, which includes modern-day Iraq and parts of Iran, Turkey and Syria, is often referred to as the cradle of civilization. It is where cities and empires were born and whose stories are told. is a huge part of human history. Solving the mystery (or trying to solve the mystery) is of particular interest, but the study of Mesopotamia in general has a lot to do with the complexity and variety of human societies and cultural achievements. It has a larger goal of understanding sexuality.”

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