14 June 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Twin temples linked to Hercules and Alexander the Great discovered in Sumerian city of Girsu

Archaeologists discovered two temples, with one buried over the other, during excavations at Girsu, a Sumerian city in southeastern Iraq now known as Tello.

The fourth century B.C. is when the more recent Hellenistic temple was built, and it might be connected to Alexander the Great.

Inside the temple, the archaeologists found a fired brick which had an Aramaic and Greek inscription, that referred to “the giver of two brothers”, which was seen as a possible reference made to the Macedonian king, who had ruled for 13 years from 336 BC to 323 BC and conquered much of the known world.

The older temple, on the other hand, was discovered by archaeologists from London’s British Museum while conducting excavations in the ancient megacity of Girsu, which is a Sumerian city now called Tello.

The excavations are part of an ongoing venture conducted by the museum known as The Girsu Project that focuses on learning more about the city’s storied history.

The remnants of the older temple were found to be buried in the same spot as the newer one, which was dedicated to Hercules and Ningirsu (also known as Ninurta), the Greek deity’s Sumerian equivalent. This was noted by Ancient Mesopotamia curator and archaeologist Sebastien Rey from the British Museum. Rey led the excavations held in the area.

The archaeologists note that it was not a coincidence that the temple was raised on a site where another one stood 1,500 years before. The area could have held significance for those from Mesopotamia.

A replica of the Hellenistic Temple at Girsu dedicated to Hercules and Ningirsu that has a link to Alexander the Great. Image credit: The Girsu Project and artefacts-berlin.de
A replica of the Hellenistic Temple at Girsu dedicated to Hercules and Ningirsu that has a link to Alexander the Great. Image credit: The Girsu Project and artefacts-berlin.de

“It shows that the inhabitants of Babylonia in the [fourth] century BC had a vast knowledge of their history. The legacy of the Sumerians was still very vibrant,” said Rey.

The archaeologists, while exploring the dual temple site, discovered a silver drachm (an ancient Greek coin) which was buried underneath an altar or shrine, along with a brick with the two brothers’ inscription.

Rey notes that the inscription is quite intriguing, as it notes the Babylonian name inscribed in Aramaic and Greek. He notes that the name must have been chosen to be a ceremonial title on account of its symbolic meanings and archaizing tone. All evidence shows that the name, which was Adadnadinakhe, was remarkably rare.

The inscription also references Zeus, who is typically represented by an eagle and a lightning bolt. The unique coin featured both symbols. Rey also notes that Zeus also acknowledged Alexander the Great to be his son through the Ammon oracle, making Zeus the “giver of brothers” due to the fraternal bond affirmed between both Hercules and Alexander.

Rey concludes that by mixing together the signs of Alexandrian presence, this shows that Alexander could have had an active and direct role in the re-establishment of the temple or that it welcomed the Macedonian ruler’s memorial after he died early.

Aside from the artifacts, the archaeologists discovered offerings that were traditionally given after battles. They included soldier clay figurines.

The Girsu Project

Cover Photo: British Museum

Related Articles

A very Rare Medieval Pocket Sundial Discovered in Germany

31 July 2023

31 July 2023

A rare Medieval sundial, which is approximately the size of a matchbox was discovered in the old town of Marburg,...

Thor’s hammer amulet discovered in Sweden

23 October 2022

23 October 2022

Archaeologists have unearthed the Thor’s Hammer amulet, which they call “one of its kind” in Ysby in southwestern Sweden’s Halland...

Remarkable discovery of Iron Age and Roman treasures found near a boggy area on Anglesey

29 February 2024

29 February 2024

Metal detectorist Ian Porter unearthed sixteen historical artifacts in a boggy field on Anglesey. Among the items found were Iron...

A rare reliquary discovered during excavations in Poland

19 October 2023

19 October 2023

Archaeologists have unearthed a rare enkolpion -a medallion with an icon in the center worn around the neck by Eastern...

Surprising Discovery: In Guatemala, archaeologists uncover hidden neighborhood in the ancient Maya city

28 September 2021

28 September 2021

A recent lidar analysis revealed, the region surrounding Central Tikal’s Lost World Complex, which was long thought to be a...

Grain Barns dating back 6,000 years unearthed in China

15 December 2022

15 December 2022

Chinese archaeologists have revealed a cluster of 16 ancient granaries that traced back to the mid-late period of the Yangshao...

Czech archaeologists discovered a unique bronze belt buckle dating back to the eighth century

12 December 2023

12 December 2023

Czech archaeologists have unearthed a bronze belt buckle from the early Middle Ages, depicting a snake devouring a frog-like creature....

Remains of 2 houses belonging to the founding period of the city were unearthed in the ancient city of Hierapolis

5 November 2021

5 November 2021

During this year’s excavations in the ancient city of Hierapolis-Pamukkale in Turkey’s Aegean province Denizli, the remains of two houses...

Neo-Assyrian underground complex discovered under a house in southeastern Turkey

11 May 2022

11 May 2022

An underground Iron Age complex has been found in Turkey that may have been used by a fertility cult during...

Roman gilded silver fragment uncovered in Norfolk baffles researchers

27 March 2023

27 March 2023

In Norfolk, a metal detector uncovered an ancient Roman fragment made of gilded silver. The piece was clearly a part...

New Insights From Researchers About The World’s Longest Aqueduct

11 May 2021

11 May 2021

The Roman Empire’s aqueducts are magnificent specimens of the art of architecture. Although centuries have passed since these aqueducts were...

Horse cemetery in Westminster revealed as likely resting place for elite imported animals

25 March 2024

25 March 2024

Archaeological analysis of a medieval horse cemetery discovered in London nearly 30 years ago has revealed the international scale of...

Knights-era painting found behind bricked-up arch at Museum of Archaeology in Malta

30 November 2021

30 November 2021

A newly found Knights-era painting hidden behind a bricked-up arch at the Museum of Archaeology might give insight into the...

USF team discovers 2,000-year-old Roman house during excavation in Malta

8 August 2023

8 August 2023

A team of researchers and students unearthed a 2,000-year-old Roman house in Malta, complete with a waste disposal system and...

Ceremonial meals may have been served in the 4500-year-old structure unearthed in the Yumuktepe Höyük in Southern Turkey

3 November 2021

3 November 2021

A 4,500-year-old structure containing a jar, many pots, and food fossils has been unearthed at the Yumuktepe Höyük (mound) in...