Kurdish and German archaeologists discovered a stone stele with the image of a human figure dating back to the second half of the first millennium BC northwest of the city of Duhok (Semel District) in the Kurdistan Region. The stele is one of the very rare stone monuments in this region with an engraved human picture. It could depict either a local king or "magus", a Zoroastrian priest. The object was discovered in the frame of the Eastern Khabur Archaeological Survey (EHAS) carried out by the University of Tubingen in collaboration with the Duhok Directorate of Antiquities.
Both a local king or a Zoroastrian priest would represent a completely new and hitherto unique cultural element in this region. It is worth noting in this context that archeological information about Zoroastrian beliefs in the region had already been found in earlier fieldwork of the Duhok Directorate of Antiquities. In 2005, the Kurdish archeologist Dr. Hassan Ahmed Qasim discovered and excavated the archeological site of Charstin in the city of Duhok, which includes a fire temple and related installations. Generally, the Behdinan region of Kurdistan includes many Zoroastrian remains, including shrines, silos, workshops and fire niches carved in the rocks of the mountains. It demonstrates that the Zoroastrian religion was at home in this region from the second half of the first millennium BC until the advent of Islam. Therefore, archeologists hope to obtain more information on this period with regard to political, economic, religious, historical and artistic aspects.
After the discovery of the mentioned stele in the summer of 2016 by the EHAS survey team it was immediately transferred to the National Museum of Duhok in coordination with the local security serveries. In the meantime, the stele underwent studies conducted by the Duhok Directorate of Antiquities. According to Dr. Hassan Ahmed Qasim, archeologist and specialist in ancient languages, director of the Duhok Directorate of Antiquities, the stele can be considered a highly important archeological discovery in the Kurdistan Region as it is a unique piece in the area. It demonstrates the successful international cooperation in archeological field work in the Duhok Governorate as well as in other parts of the Kurdistan Region. As Dr. Qasim states, the new evidence will certainly lead to more excavations and discoveries in the future throwing light on the early history of Zoroastrian religion.
PUKmedia \ Duhok Directorate of Antiquities