Hybrid camel sculptures found in Arab temple of ‘Allah’s daughter’

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Jan 27, 2022, 03:06 PM(IST)

Two-humped camels flanking a royal portrait in the centre of the lintel (Photograph courtesy of the Aliph-ISMEO project at Hatra). Photograph:( Others )

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Originally dedicated to an Arab deity, the temple was eventually modified by King Sanatruq I and his son, Crown Prince Abdsamiya

Archaeologists have found hybrid camel sculptures in the Temple of Allat in an ongoing project for the restoration of the site in Iraq.

As per the study, published in the journal Antiquity, the temple had been severely affected by decades of neglect and, between 2015 and 2017, intentional vandalism by the Islamic State. 

Recent findings of the ongoing Aliph-ISMEO research project suggest that the Temple of Allat was built and modified in at least three, and possibly four, construction phases. 

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Originally dedicated to an Arab deity, the temple was eventually modified by King Sanatruq I and his son, Crown Prince Abdsamiya, around AD 168.

The temple reflects the fundamental pattern of other contemporaneous urban temples, namely, three major flanked rooms, with walls separating the main monuments of the western part of the temenos, the traditional name of the stone enclosure of the inner sanctuary of Hatra, from its eastern open forecourt.

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Once a UNESCO World Heritage site, the temple houses “Bactrian camels” flanking a royal portrait in the centre of the lintel. They are well sculpted and represented somewhat realistically: both show one of the soft humps sagging and folded onto themselves.

Set in the walls that enclosed the monumental core of the temenos, but open to the forecourt, the temple stood in open view to large groups of religious visitors and to trade caravans. 

It perhaps also hosted periodic central markets. Thus, the temple was also accessible to the non-resident ‘Arab’ nomadic population, who regularly and intensively interacted with Hatra.

Allat, was also linked to the pre-monotheistic version of Allah, possibly as a daughter or wife of the supreme deity.

(With inputs from agencies)

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