Iraq’s Long-Lost Mythical Temple Has Been Found…and Is In Danger of Disappearing Again





In an ancient stone carving, warriors brandishing shields and swords swarm over the columned facade of a grand temple. On one side, a palace stands with three women perched on top; on the other, above private homes, a ruler on a throne dictates to royal scribes. In the foreground, the peaks of northern Iraq soar.

For centuries, scholars and archaeologists have speculated about the whereabouts of this near-mythical temple and the powerful city where it resided. While they know its history, the storied city’s exact location has long been lost to time, until a recent report by a local archaeologist claimed to have hit upon the temple’s remains. Using clues pulled from surviving records and descriptions, Dlshad Marf Zamua believes that, after seven years of research, he’s found the last traces of Musasir in what is now a village called Mdjeser in Iraqi Kurdistan.

More than 2,500 years ago, the holy structure was the shining glory of the ancient capital city of Musarir, also known as Ardini, in modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan. For hundreds of years, around the first millennium BC, the house of worship and its home city were renowned as holy sites. Scholars believe that the temple was built in the late ninth century BC to honor the god Haldi—a winged warrior standing on a lion—and the goddess Bagbartu in the Iron Age kingdom of Urartu, which considered Haldi its national deity.



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