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5,000-Year-Old Cultic Area Unearthed in Iraq

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Girsu FavissaLONDON, ENGLAND—Live Science reports that a team of researchers led by Sebastien Rey of the British Museum and Tina Greenfield of the University of Saskatchewan found sheep, cow, deer, gazelle, fish, goat, pig, and bird bones, as well as more than 300 broken ceramic cups, bowls, jars, and spouted vessels, in a ritual pit at the site of Girsu in southern Iraq. The pit was located in an area with burnt floors and a thick layer of ash. Rey and Greenfield said the possible cultic area resembles religious festivals described in cuneiform texts unearthed at Girsu in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to those texts, the Mesopotamian warrior god Ningirsu was honored twice a year with feasting and processions that lasted for three or four days. Rey and Greenfield suggest the ash at the site was the result of large ritual fires, and the ceramic items may have been used for feasting before they were discarded in the pit. One of the fragments bears an inscription dedicated to Ningirsu, Rey and Greenfield added. To read about looted cuneiform-inscribed cones that were ultimately identified as having come from Girsu, go to "The Case of the Stolen Sumerian Antiquities."

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