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Chroniques des travaux archéologiques en Turquie 2018

Two Column Bases from Mawan in the Hakkâri Province (Southeast corner of Turkey): A new Achaemenid Center?

Kenan Işık, Bülent Genç, Vedat Timur et Rıfat Kuvanç
p. 155-160

Résumé

Bell-shaped column bases are common finds from the Achaemenid Empire centers. These centers were governed either by Persians or local administrators who were dependent on Persia. Two bell-shaped column bases were found in the village of Mawan, 32 km from Şemdinli district of Hakkâri province in Turkey. These column bases are the first Achaemenid finds from the Hakkâri province. Mawan is situated at an important transit point between north-western Iran, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq. At this point, it is necessary to draw attention to a widespread garrison network of the Achaemenid Empire in the region. Therefore, it is possible to consider the location of the Mawan column bases as the site of a garrison rather than an administrative center.

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Texte intégral

We would like to thank Professor Stephan Kroll for his valuable comments and contributions.

  • 1 It is argued that Triangle Ware and Festoon Ware emerged with the Achaemenid period.

1The Achaemenid Kingdom (559-330 BCE) ruled over the Near East for over two centuries. The hegemony of the kingdom reached a wide landscape, from the Mediterranean and Aegean shores to the Indus River, and from the Caucasus to Egypt. Media (in 550 BCE), Armenia (in 547 BCE) and Babylonia-Assyria (in 539 BCE), the territories of which roughly overlap with modern north-western Iran, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq, were among the first places to be conquered by the founding king Cyrus (Khatchadourian 2012: 965). The Persians preferred to use existing centers in these conquered lands rather than establish new ones. Therefore, centers in modern northern Iraq, such as Erbil, Assur, Tell ed Daim, Khorsabad, Nimrud, and Nineveh, where Achaemenid traces can be observed, are old Assyrian settlements (Curtis 2003: 1-20). Achaemenid presence in the northern Zagros Mountains, in eastern Anatolia, and to its east, in the Lake Urmia basin could be ascertained through the thin-walled painted grey or cream slip ware called Triangle Ware and Festoon Ware, prevalent in the Achaemenid period (Dittman 1985: 155).1 The places where these ceramics were discovered in north-western Iran were either founded by the Urartians or were inhabited during the Urartian period, such as the centers of Bastam (Kroll 1979: 215), Qalatgah (Muscarella 1971: 46), Qale Ismail Ağa (Kroll 1976a: 118), Hasanlu (Dyson 1965: 205), Evoğlu (Kroll 1976b: 52-57), and Agraptepe (Muscarella 1973: 59).

  • 2 Dating of this Apadana to the Urartian period rather than the Achaemenid is an ongoing debate for A (...)

2The most obvious Achaemenid evidence in eastern Anatolia is the inscription of Xerxes I (486-465 BCE), the Achaemenid emperor. This trilingual inscription is located on the cliffs of the Van Fortress, once the capital of Urartu –the powerful kingdom of eastern Anatolia in the second half of the 1st millennium BCE (Weissbach 1911: 116-119). The building that is dated to the Achaemenid period in this region is the Apadana in Erzincan/Altıntepe2 (. The existence of the Apadana and the discovery of Achaemenid ceramics in the same center suggest that Altıntepe became a satrap center once Anatolia entered into the Persian rule (Kleiss 1976: 37-38; Summers 1993: 8; Çilingiroğlu 1997: 79-80). Undoubtedly, another indication of the Achaemenid presence in eastern Anatolia is the ceramics. The most important of eastern Anatolian centers where Triangle Ware and Festoon Ware were identified are Erzincan/Altıntepe, Erzincan/Cimintepe, Bayburt/Büyüktepe, Van/Karagündüz Höyüğü, Van Kalesi Höyüğü, Elazığ/İmikuşağı, Malatya/Köşkerbaba, Erzurum/Sos Höyük, Van/Çavuştepe, Van/Zıvıstan, Van/Eski Norgüh, and Patnos/Paşatepe (Sevin 2002: 475-482).

  • 3 Mudjesir is generally identified as the city of Muṣaṣir –important for the Urartian Kingdom and the (...)

3The Zagros Mountain range, stretching from the north to the south at the intersection of north-western Iran, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq, must have acted as a natural barrier for the Persian expansion towards the west and northwest. Achaemenid evidence in this mountainous region comes from northern Iraq, modern Mudjesir3 , in a village close to Sideqan. The bell-shaped column base discovered at Kala Mudjesir is significant in understanding the Achaemenid presence in this region (Boehmer - Fenner 1973: 491-492, Fig. 21-22; Boehmer 1979: 127, Fig. 10).

  • 4 Another settlement called Mawan exists in the Fars province of Iran, where there is a dam dated to (...)
  • 5 The first scientific archaeological research in Hakkâri took place towards the end of the 20th cent (...)

4Mawan, about 35 km north of Mudjesir is another area of Achaemenid existence in the Zagros. The village of Mawan4 (Hartnell-Asadi 2012: 225) –its official name is Samanlı– is located 32 km southwest of the Şemdinli district, to the southeast of the Hakkâri province in Turkey (37°03’21.70˝K 44°21’47.88˝D). Situated to the north of the Zagros, Hakkâri has a very rough terrain. Transportation is usually along the river valleys and through the mountain passes. Archaeological research in the area is very limited5 (Özfırat 2002: 141; Sevin-Özfırat-Kavaklı 2001: 358), therefore the Achaemenid period in Hakkâri remains a mystery, just like most of its other periods. The two bell-shaped column bases found in Mawan (Fig. 1), however, constitute our first evidence for the Achaemenid period.

Fig 1: Location of Mawan and Mudjesir

Fig 1: Location of Mawan and Mudjesir
  • 6 The Hacıbey (Begejne) Stream crosses the Turkey-Iraq border and meets the Greater Zap River.
  • 7 Gerdi is the name of the Kurdish tribe settled in the Derecik (Rubarok) district immediately to the (...)
  • 8 The bases were relocated to the Samanlı military patrol point from where they were found in situ. T (...)

5Immediately to the southwest of the Mawan Village, on top of a hill, is a modern military patrol station. To the east of this hill, along the Iraq-Turkey border, the Hacıbey (Begejne) Stream6 runs from north to south. The hill is 60 m above the Gerdi7 Valley, in which the stream runs. The Mawan hill, where the column bases come from, is at a strategic location commanding the natural valleys that extend towards the north, south and west. The two bases of the Achaemenid bell-shape type were discovered during the construction of a military trench8. The first column base is 33 cm high and has a top diameter of 50 cm and a bottom diameter of 64 cm. It bears 15 leaf decorations and is well-preserved (Fig. 2). The second column base, the upper section of which is partially broken, is 35 cm high and has a top diameter of 50 cm and a bottom diameter of 64 cm, and bears 14 leaf decorations. The column bases are almost identical in terms of their decorations and dimensions (Fig. 3). Both are made of basalt and do not have tori (Fig. 4).

Fig 2: Column Base I

Fig 2: Column Base I

Fig 3: Column Base II

Fig 3: Column Base II

Fig 4: Drawing of the Column Base I (Fig. 2)

Fig 4: Drawing of the Column Base I (Fig. 2)

6Both column bases are similar in form and dimensions to those discovered at Kala Mudjesir. The bell-shaped column base of Kala Mudjesir, which has a torus, is 36 cm high and has a bottom diameter of 64 cm (Boehmer 1973: 492). The most similar examples to the Mawan column bases (in terms of form and material) are those found at Tappeh-ye Hekmataneh in Hamedan and, are mostly broken (Knapton-Sarraf-Curtis 2001: 111, Fig. 9c and Fig. 9e). In fact, bell-shaped column bases have been discovered in many centers across the Achaemenid territory. Among these centers are those that lie at the center of Persian lands, such as Tepe Suruvan, Tell-i Zohak, and Persepolis. These column bases are also identified at sites far away from central Persia, such as those at the southern Caucasus, in places like Gumbati (Knauß-Gagoshidze-Babaev 2013: 3, Fig. 4; Furtwangler-Kanuss 1996: 363-381) and Qaracamirli (Babaev-Mehnert-Knauß 2009: 292-294, Fig. 12-17; Knauss-Gagoshidze 2010: 106, Fig. 3-4). The newly discovered column bases add Mawan to these locations (Fig. 2-4).

7Bell-shape type column bases are said to have been used between 521-359 BCE from the reign of the Achaemenid king Darius I to the reign of Artaxerxes II (Babaev-Gagoshidze-Knauß 2007: 32, Fig. 1). These column bases were previously associated with monumental buildings owned by high-level Achaemenid officials, who would have been either Persians or local rulers with allegiance to the Persians (Babaev-Gagoshidze-Knauß 2007: 33, Fig. 1a). The Mawan hill, where these column bases were found, could have been a place where such monumental buildings existed.

8Mawan commands the natural routes that follow the Zap River to the north and continue along the Hacıbey Stream, reaching the Iraq territory to the southwest (Fig. 5). In this respect, Mawan is a vantage point of strategic importance –a passage between north-western Iran, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq. Considering that there is hardly any agricultural land in the mountainous Hakkâri area and bearing in mind the low figures of population, it might be too early to deduce that Mawan was a satrap center. The main means of subsistence in this region is semi-nomadic animal husbandry. This lays doubt on the hypothesis that Mawan was a satrap center that regularly collected taxes, agricultural produce, and soldiers. Therefore, owing to its strategic position, it can be argued that Mawan had a military use, like today, rather than an administrative purpose. The known existence of a garrison network spread across the Achaemenid territory may support this claim (Tuplin 1987: 167-246).

Fig 5: A view from Gerdi Valley where Mawan is located

Fig 5: A view from Gerdi Valley where Mawan is located

9Regardless of whether it was an administrative center or a military garrison, detailed research will reveal the extent of Achaemenid presence in Mawan. It is however obvious that Mawan and Mudjesir were Achaemenid centers in the mysterious Zagros Mountain region that separated north-western Iran, eastern Anatolia and northern Iraq.

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Notes

1 It is argued that Triangle Ware and Festoon Ware emerged with the Achaemenid period.

2 Dating of this Apadana to the Urartian period rather than the Achaemenid is an ongoing debate for Altıntepe.

3 Mudjesir is generally identified as the city of Muṣaṣir –important for the Urartian Kingdom and the Haldi cult.

4 Another settlement called Mawan exists in the Fars province of Iran, where there is a dam dated to the early Islamic period.

5 The first scientific archaeological research in Hakkâri took place towards the end of the 20th century. One of the tomb chambers (M1) excavated in the medieval fortress in the provincial center was dated to the 2nd millennium BC owing to the Habur style ceramics it contained. 13 relief stelae with human figures, found on the cliffs of the Hakkâri Fortress, have been defined as the “warrior stelae”. These interesting stelae that display local characteristics, and several tomb chambers in the vicinity have been dated to the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age. There is still not much information about the mountainous Hakkâri during the first half of the 1st millennium BC –an area that lies between the Urartu Kingdom to the north, with Van at its center, and the powerful Assyrian Empire to the south. So far, no written documents dated to the 1st millennium BC have been found in this area.

6 The Hacıbey (Begejne) Stream crosses the Turkey-Iraq border and meets the Greater Zap River.

7 Gerdi is the name of the Kurdish tribe settled in the Derecik (Rubarok) district immediately to the northwest of Mawan.

8 The bases were relocated to the Samanlı military patrol point from where they were found in situ. The Regional Conservation Council in Van was informed of the situation upon which they were transferred to the Van Museum on 21.11.2014.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig 1: Location of Mawan and Mudjesir
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1052/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 5,8M
Titre Fig 2: Column Base I
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1052/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,3M
Titre Fig 3: Column Base II
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1052/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 124k
Titre Fig 4: Drawing of the Column Base I (Fig. 2)
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1052/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 356k
Titre Fig 5: A view from Gerdi Valley where Mawan is located
URL http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/docannexe/image/1052/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,6M
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Kenan Işık, Bülent Genç, Vedat Timur et Rıfat Kuvanç, « Two Column Bases from Mawan in the Hakkâri Province (Southeast corner of Turkey): A new Achaemenid Center? »Anatolia Antiqua, XXVII | 2019, 155-160.

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Kenan Işık, Bülent Genç, Vedat Timur et Rıfat Kuvanç, « Two Column Bases from Mawan in the Hakkâri Province (Southeast corner of Turkey): A new Achaemenid Center? »Anatolia Antiqua [En ligne], XXVII | 2019, mis en ligne le 31 janvier 2022, consulté le 29 mai 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/anatoliaantiqua/1052 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/anatoliaantiqua.1052

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Auteurs

Kenan Işık

Independent Researcher, Van-Turkey

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Bülent Genç

Mardin Artuklu University, Faculty of Letters Department of Archaeology, Artuklu-Mardin/Turkey

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Vedat Timur

The Directorate of Culture and Tourism, Hakkari-Turkey

Rıfat Kuvanç

Iğdır University, Faculty of Letters Department of Archaeology, Iğdır-Turkey

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