October 06, 2006


Zoroastrian temple in Duhok

In late August, the Director of Antiquities in Duhok (a.k.a. Dohuk or Dahuk) in Kurdish Iraq, Hasan Ahmed Qassim, announced his institution had unearthed a Zoroastrian temple of Anna Hita. The same brief article is reproduced in several publications and is not very easy to understand, e.g., "[i]t is also said that it was a Metherani temple." By "Metherani" is meant "Mithraic." The legend of the accompanying photo reads: "The newly discovered Zoroastrian Temple near Jar Ston Cave near Duhok; The picture shows the inside of the cave. Photo: Kurdish Globe." This leaves unclear whether the picture shows the Jar Ston cave or one of the sanctuaries of the Zoroastrian temple. The temple is "made up of five sanctuaries, three of which were carved into rock, with the remaining two having been constructed from stone blocks." This temple's architecture is unique but its Zoroastrian character was confirmed by the presence of Anna Hita's holy star, evidence of fires, fireplaces and "holy sand stores [?] found nearby." No date is given. The religious affiliation is not addressed much either. This is not my forte, I'm afraid. For some information on Zoroastrianism, a religion going back to at least the time of the Achaemenid empire and still surviving in India and the US, see for instance Malandra. I do not know how the Mithraic element fits in. Also, Zoroastrianism has in Kurdish Iraq contributed to the sect of the Yezidis, present since at least the Islamic era (see Izady). I'll leave it to experts in this field to clear these matters up.

• "Kurdistan: Zoroastrian Temple discovered in Duhok," in Kurdish Aspect, online, August 22, 2006
• M.R. Izady, "Yezidism," in KurdishMedia.com, online, May 26, 2004
• W.W. Malandra, "Zoroastrianism. i. Historical Review," in Encyclopædia Iranica, October 7, 2005


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