Assyriologist unravels mystery of 2,700-year-old temple

Late 19th century drawings of the eagle and bull symbols published by French excavator Victor Place. Credit: New York Public Library

In the ancient city of Dūr-Šarrukīn, which we now call Khorsabad in Iraq, there’s a puzzle that’s baffled experts for over a century.

On the walls of temples dating back 2,700 years, there are five mysterious symbols: a lion, eagle, bull, fig tree, and plow.

These symbols have sparked many ideas, but none seemed to crack the code—until now.

Dr. Martin Worthington, an expert in ancient languages from Trinity College, has put forward a fascinating solution.

He suggests that these symbols actually spell out the name of a powerful king, Sargon II, who ruled Assyria from 721 to 704 BC.

You see, the Assyrian words for these symbols—lion, eagle, bull, fig tree, and plow—when put together, sound just like the name “Sargon” in Assyrian (šargīnu). It’s like a secret message hidden in plain sight!

But that’s not all. Sometimes, only three of these symbols are used: the lion, tree, and plow. And even in this shorter sequence, Dr. Worthington argues, they still spell out “Sargon.”

But why these symbols? Well, according to Dr. Worthington, each of them can also represent a constellation in the sky.

For example, the lion stands for Leo, the eagle for Aquila, and the fig tree for a constellation called “the Jaw” (which isn’t visible today).

It’s like the ancient Assyrians were writing Sargon’s name in the stars, making sure it would last forever.

This discovery not only solves a centuries-old mystery but also gives us a glimpse into ancient Mesopotamian culture. Mesopotamia, which includes modern Iraq and parts of nearby countries, was a cradle of civilization.

It’s where writing was invented around 3400 BC and where important figures like Abraham, central to three major religions, are said to have come from.

Dr. Worthington’s work reminds us of the richness and complexity of ancient societies. It’s not just about solving puzzles—it’s about understanding the incredible achievements and stories of our ancestors.

And who knows what other secrets are waiting to be uncovered in the sands of time?

Source: KSR.