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Bas-Reliefs of Winged Goddesses Discovered in Western Iran



12 October 2005


A team of archaeologists has discovered a brick bearing bas-reliefs of four winged goddesses at the 3000-year-old site of Rabat near the town of Sardasht in Iran's West Azarbaijan Province, an archaeologist of the West Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department announced on Wednesday.

“The artifact was discovered during the first phase of the excavations carried out on the site. Such bas-reliefs have never been seen in any ancient site of the county so far. The upper parts of the goddesses resemble a woman and the lower parts are similar to an animal like a deer or cow with wings on both their sides,” Reza Heydari told the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency.


“The bas-reliefs are very unique. Similar bas-reliefs depicting winged goddesses have not been found, even at Persepolis with all its grandeur,” he said.


In its higher strata, Rabat dates back to some time around 1000 BC. It is one of the richest archaeological sites of northwestern Iran. Archaeologists had estimated the site covered only a four-hectare area, but new studies have extended the area to 25 hectares.


The team of archaeologists working in the region believes that Rabat Tepe was the seat of government of Musasir about 3000 years ago.


Musasir was a semi-independent buffer state bordering Mannai between Assyria and Urartu. It was a vassal state of Assyria yet Urartu had some claim over it.


Experts believe that it was an ancient city probably located near the upper Great Zab River between Lake Urmia and Lake Van, the present Turkey. Musasir was particularly important during the first half of the 1st millennium BC and is known primarily from reliefs and inscriptions obtained during the reign of the Assyrian king Sargon II, who captured it in 714 BC. According to the inscriptions, Sargon first plundered the palace and storerooms that belonged to Urzana, the king of Musasir, and then seized the even richer contents of the temple of Haldi, the god of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.