In Syria, where Mesopotamia used to be, Russian archeologists found a unique cult city, perhaps the oldest on Earth. Residents conserved it until better times, as if hoping in this way to convey some valuable knowledge to the descendants.
The interfluve of the Tigris and the Euphrates invariably attracted the attention of archaeologists and historians from all over the world. This is not accidental, because it is here that the first civilization was thought to have originated approximately 6 thousand years ago: the first cities and the first states, writing, ceramics, etc. Unfortunately, most historical monuments that testify to the life of ancient people in Mesopotamia have reached our Days in severely damaged condition. Severe drought, dust storms and winter rains have made their own ruinous business – the cities are practically not preserved. However, luck suddenly smiled to Russian archaeologists. In northern Mesopotamia, in the valley of the Syrian Habur River, an expedition led by Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Historical Sciences Rauf Munchayeva, found an unusual settlement, perfectly preserved from ancient times. The witnesses of the opening were the correspondents of “Totav”.
… An endless road stretches across the Mesopotamian steppe, which periodically crosses the riverbeds of dried up rivers. Involuntarily you look around, and it is hard to believe that once here farmers cultivated fertile fields, collecting several harvests of cereals a year. Wherever only unpretentious lizards and scorpions find their shelter, the meadows are green. Herds of domestic animals grazed on them. And it seems less likely that people could live comfortably here.
The fact that this land was once a real paradise on earth, now resemble only towering above the desert hills, previously representing a flourishing city. The senior researcher of the Institute of Archeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences Shakhmardan Amirov, the doctor of historical sciences, says that the hills, or in other way telly, were formed here for many hundreds of years. This was the case: in the same place people built buildings of raw brick, eventually the old buildings collapsed, and new ones were built on their rubble. One of these hills was chosen for research by Russian archeologists. Tell 17 meters high and 200 meters in diameter, the scientists called Khazna by the name of the village located near the village. What was the surprise of the archaeologists when they discovered an amazing thing: the settlement turned out to be almost not destroyed, but as if deliberately strewn for the time being. Such a preservation of architecture is an exceptional rarity for Mesopotamian archeology. Ancient people for something have done a grandiose work on the conservation of the settlement. They carefully dismantled the wooden beams of the roofs and filled all the buildings with earth. Thus, the city was untouched for many centuries, no natural cataclysms could destroy what was erected here. The quivering attitude of the ancient inhabitants towards their settlement made archaeologists think of its exclusivity. Probably, it had some special significance for the residents of the district.
In the ancient streets
Carefully digging the alleys of the ancient city, archaeologists did not cease to marvel at the monumentality of its architecture. The settlement was surrounded by a massive bypass wall about two meters wide and six meters high. The fact that it was an extraordinary city, the scientists realized, having cleared more than half of the telly – and this is about five thousand square meters. It turned out that the settlement consisted largely of religious buildings.
The layout of the Khazna is reminiscent of an oval, in which structures are laid facing the south. On an ancient road running along the bed of the parched river, we passed by an ancient well and a well-preserved pottery furnace, then we find ourselves behind a bypass wall. Near it there was a kind of altar in which the bull’s skull was built.
Rising on an inclined ramp, the path leads into the grandiose cult (prayer tower) – ziggurat. Archaeologists believe that this is the first among such structures in the north of Mesopotamia and one of the oldest ziggurats in the world. From the tower paved with a small pebble path leads to the central part of the temple complex, where, as the researchers suggest, could be the main temple building.
Archaeologists assume that ritual processions were held along the main street at one time, and certain ceremonies were performed in a certain order that had developed over the years.
Storage of grain and knowledge
The buildings of the temple complex are distinguished by monumentality. The facades of the rooms are decorated with pilasters. The so-called upper church was almost up to the top covered with ashes, among which were found a lot of chopped clay figures of sheep and bulls. As Shahmardan Amirov believes, the ashes that filled some religious buildings were stored as material confirmation, a “report” to the gods about the sacrifices they had made. It should be noted that the farmers of Mesopotamia did not sacrifice people, but in the nomadic Semites the first-born was destined for God.
In exchange for sacrificial offerings, the higher powers, apparently, gave the people grain, which was the main food in those days and was considered sacred.
The main, cult role of cereals in the life of the inhabitants of Khazna is indicated by the fact that along with temples and cult towers huge granaries were built in the city, which had a dual meaning – economic and religious. The towers were kept to full height – 8 meters, inside their depth reaches 14 meters. And if on the surface of the earth red-hot summer air burns everything alive, then inside such a tower, even today, a tooth on the tooth does not get from the cold.
Archaeologists believe that in the city at the same time lived only about 120 people. Most likely, there were clergymen in the cult complex. The researchers found that by the end of the IV – beginning of the III millennium BC in Northern Mesopotamia conditions for the emergence of statehood had ripened. Most likely, in the settlements of the Khazny type, certain similarities of estates were born, the representatives of the higher estates belonged to the subartes – the little-known people. The construction was carried out by ordinary residents from the surrounding villages. The power of the buildings testifies to the importance of Khazna. It would seem that farmers, whose life was full of cares for food, should always spend in the fields. But they found free days to work hard to build a cult center. And, most likely, they did it voluntarily, paying tribute to the sacred bread.
The priests were engaged in Khazne not only in the performance of ritual ceremonies. Judging by the finds that occur in the body at almost every step, there was also a kind of scientific center. In an era when nature and space were deified, their study was a duty, and therefore the priest was also the custodian of scientific knowledge, and an inquisitive researcher. The development of technology has reached extraordinary heights in Khazn at the turn of the fourth and third millennia. Members of the Russian expedition even suggest that it was here that the first wheel was invented, and then the chariot. Apparently, realizing the importance of discoveries, the residents of Khazna in large quantities molded from the clay a model of their know-how, hoping thus to transfer priceless knowledge to the descendants. In addition, it was in Khazne, as Russian archaeologists believe, that ceramics and personal seals were invented. Here the foundations of mathematics were laid: with the help of special plates people made calculations. The wisdom of the inhabitants and founders of Hazna is also indicated by the fact that this is the oldest known city today, built according to a common architectural plan. It was here that for the first time they began to build square houses and a concept that we now call the aesthetics of forms. If ancient artisans made statuettes of women formless, the figures found in Hazne already correspond to modern concepts of beauty.
At the same time, some secrets left by the inhabitants of the city of the temples have not yet been solved. For example, it is completely incomprehensible why from the center of the telly the streets in all directions diverge by some rays similar to the sun rays. Perhaps this is a coded message about the structure of the universe. And what if something else is encrypted, not only in the layout of the city, but also in the location of houses, temples and walls?
Everything comes to an end
As it often happened with other civilizations, once Khazna emptied. For several years the drought drained the grain stocks, and people were forced to move to other, more suitable places for agriculture and life. It happened about the beginning of the third millennium BC. After the holy city was conserved, people left to the north. However, what is striking is that Hazna’s story did not end there. After a while, people tried to return to their homes. But not for long. Their existence at a late stage in the life of the settlement, according to archaeologists, was much more scarce, both spiritually and materially. They now huddled in small rooms and, correcting the shrine, even used religious buildings. Apparently, such a disrespectful attitude was not to the liking of the gods giving grain, and around 2650 BC a drought broke out again, which caused the townspeople to lay Hazna on the ground again and leave. Now it’s forever.