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Reliefs of Gali Zerdak

typeplace

parentsAncient Parthian ruins

At Gali Zerdak (a watercourse running against the northern side of Mt. Maqlub which closes the Navkur in the southwest) there are six rock-cut carvings and monuments. Unfortunately, the state of preservation is so bad that only some details of the following reliefs can be made out. Marciak 2017, p 338

[In Gali Zerdak there is] a baetyl crowned by a flying Nike, of which only one wing is visible plus the contour of the body and the wreath with fluttering ribbons (three inscriptions on the relief are completely illegible) ... . Marciak 2017, p 338-339

[In Gali Zerdak there is] a standing male figure (whose head is missing) wearing a tunic to his knees and wide trousers -- his left hand is holding the hilt of a sword (or scepter) at his left hip, and his right hand is held above an object (perhaps an altar), one or two more standing figures, one of which is possibly female (the dress reaching to the feet) ... . Marciak 2017, p 339

[In Gali Zerdak there is] a rider moving left and crowned by a flying Nike (a dress with U-folds) ... . Marciak 2017, p 339

[In Gali Zerdak there is] a nimble head (possibly of a god of the nether world like Nergal) ... . Marciak 2017, p 339

[In Gali Zerdak there is] a frontal standing male figure (head missing), his left hand grasping the hilt of a sword or dagger at his left hip, his right arm resting at the side of his body, the figure dressed in a tunic reaching to his knees. Marciak 2017, p 339

Marciak also describes a relief there that is totally destroyed.

The bad state of preservation apparently resulted in scholars giving vastly different assessments of the background and dating of the reliefs: according to Huff, the reliefs depict the figures in Parthian style, but from the Hellenistic period; Safar dates the reliefs to the Sasanian period; finally, according to Boehmer, the best parallels come from the art of Hatra, and consequently the relics should be dated to the second century CE. Marciak 2017, p 339

Concerning the character of the complex at Gali Zerdak, Boehmer suggests that it may have functioned as a Parthian elite cemetery ("Bestattungsort von Fürsten parthischer Zeit"). In turn, Reade and Anderson (following a recently suggested interpretation of a similar complex in Taq-e Bustan near Kermanshah in Iran as a shrine to Anähitä as goddess of water) propose that Gali Zerdak may alternatively be understood as "a sacred water-source and appropriate centre for a ritual hunt, besides being a cool summer retreat for elite families from Parthian Navkur." Marciak 2017, p 339