Iraq Temple May Be Ancient Medical Center
Bower, Bruce, Science News
Iraq temple may be ancient medical center
In a surprising discovery, archaeologists have found that a huge temple excavated in Iraq was dedicated to the Babylonian goddess of healing, until now considered a minor deity by researchers. The temple apparently served as a center of healing activities, reports McGuire Gibson of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, which released news of the discovery last week. Further work will yield important insights into early medical practice, he asserts.
The temple is in Nippur, the ancient religious center of Mesopotamia. Archaeologists first excavated the ruins in 1972. Soon thereafter, shifting sand dunes covered the site, preventing further work until digging machines cleared out much of the desert blanket in 1988.
From January through March of this year, Gibson's team examined a layer of the temple dating to between 1600 B.C. and 1200 B.C. At least five building levels lie beneath this layer, probably extending back to about 3000 B.C., he says.
Artifacts found in the temple indicate it was dedicated to Gula, goddess of healing. A lapis lazuli disk contains an inscription to Gula. Six dog figurines -- one in bronze, the rest in baked clay -- resemble objects associated with Gula worship at other Babylonian sites. …