Alabasterkar fra Bahrains templer


  • P.V. Glob


Alabaster vases, Bahrain temples, Alabaster vaser, Bahrain templer, 5 excavation campaign, 5 udgravnings kampagne, Barbar, votive offer, rituel offer, ashlar, Dilmun culture, Dilmun kulturen, Qala'at al, Portugese fort, Portugesisk fort


Alabaster Vases from the Bahrain Temples
The Danish Archeological Bahrain-Expedition's Fifth Excavation Campaign

Among the many objects discovered in the course of five winters of work in the temples at Barbar (Fig. 1) are three almost complete alabaster vases, and fragments of a number of others. Of these two were found the first year in the square pit in front of the altar and altar stone in the upper temple (Figs. 2-3) a place where various other votive offerings had been deposited and then disturbed in the razing of the temple 1), while the third was discovered in the spring of 1958 in the inner courtyard of the temple, in fragments among the building debris below the flagstones of the courtyard (Fig. 4). It was in this level that the magnificent copper bull's head was deposited on top of a heap of copper sheeting 2).

In shape, size and material two of these vessels have their closest parallels in Mesopotamia and Egypt 3). The larger is 27.8 cms. tall, and has a narrow collar with vertical edge. lts diameter at the rim is 12.5 cms., and at the base about 1 cm. more (Fig. 4). The smaller is 17.5 cms. tall, with a wider collar rounded at the edge, the diameter of which is 13.5 cms., while the base diameter is about 1 cm.. less (Fig. 2). Similar vessels have been found at several sites, including Ur, and must have the same origin as these 4). Of a more unusual, cylindrical form, is the vessel (Fig. 3) with a diameter of 12.3 cms. and a height of 12 cms., and with a flat lid. This lid is 2 cms. thick, but only 10 cms. in diameter, while an offset on the underside reduces the diameter there to 7.9 cms. As the interior diameter of the vessel is 9.8 cms., the lid does not agree accurately with the size of the vessel. As has previously been emphasized 5) these vessels are of importance to the dating of the Barbar temples; in Egypt vessels of this type are of early Dynastic date 3).

As appears from Fig. 1 the southern face of the Barbar temples was this year completely excavated and the connection between the various remains of walls determined. Right in the foreground can be seen the ashlar terrace wall which had surrounded the uppermost and latest temple. It has been partly destroyed both by the razing of the temple and by later stone-quarrying, but it originally completely surrounded the temple, in the same way as the terrace wall behind, which surrounded the middle temple and which still shows a staircase running up from the south. At the top of this staircase stood a stone pillar upon a plinth. The upper part was broken off and was found in a pit dug beside the plinth. This destruction undoubtedly took place in the course of the razing of the middle temple, and for the purpose of destroying the power of its cult image.

Among the small objects discovered in Barbar this year mention should be made of a steatite stamp-seal (Fig. 5), which lay in a rubbish level south of the south wall of the upper temple, and which cannot therefore be attributed with certainty to any one of the temple periods. The obverse shows, below an eye-shaped figure, two men (twins) bearing spears and holding a common shield, with a swimming bird below. The reverse is domed, pierced, and decorated with three parallel lines and four "eyes", a circumstance which shows this seal to be of the same type as other specimens found in Bahrain previously 6), and closely related to two others from Bahrain, as well as with three seals from Kuwait (cf. p. 168, Fig. 3). As this type of seal is the only one yet found in the Third Millennium culture levels in. Bahrain, and is moreover found on Failaka Island in Kuwait together with the ridged ware which is characteristic for that period in Bahrain 7), it is probable that the type was produced here, and can be regarded as a basic characteristic of the culture dominant in Bahrain at that time, a culture which could he called the Dilmun Culture. C. J. Gadd is thus shown to be correct in his suspicion that this type of seal is native neither to the Mohenjo Daro-Harappa area nor to Ur, but comes from some third area 8).

In the ancient capital of Bahrain, the site of Qala'at al-Bahrain, investigations were continued along the city wall, in the large building 9), and in the interior of the "Portuguese Fort", where a sondage, producing a large quantity of stratigraphical material, was taken down to the bottom of the occupation layers. The large building, which is contemporary with the temples at Barbar, is beginning to present a monumental appearance, with its ashlar walls standing up to 16 feet in height and with its handsome entrance doorway (Fig. 6). It is an as yet unique stroke of good fortune that this building has to a large degree escaped the thorough stone-quarrying to which the ancient capital has been repeatedly subjected. The largest-scale plundering of stone took place when the great Portuguese fort was erected at the beginning of the 16th century. Its towering walls consist of shaped blocks of many sizes, and of a material which shows that the greater part is derived from the buildings and fortification wall of the ancient city. Among these blocks are several with a large circular hollow in the centre of one side, while two of them possess in addition four smaller depressions, one in each corner (Fig. 7). They may well have originally served as altar tables in one of the temples of Bahrain. A miniature altar of the same type is known from Ur, where it was found without context, but is believed to be contemporary with the cemetery 10).

The Bahrain investigations began on 10th January 1958 and continued until 14th April, under the leadership of the writer, and with T. G. Bibby as deputy director. The remaining participants were Mogens Krustrup, M. A., Poul Kjærum, M. A., Hellmuth Andersen, M. A., Peder Mortensen, Hans Berg and Frode Wisti. In addition Dr. Aage Roussell assisted for some days, after the completion of his work in Kuwait, with the planning of the large building, while Hans Hartvig Seedorff, the poet, spent two weeks in our camp at Qala'at al-Bahrain, engaged in the making of recordings for the Danish State Radio. As in former years, the expedition was financed by grants from the Government of Bahrain, the Bahrain Petroleum Company, and the Carlsberg Foundation.

The members of the expedition received the same hearty welcome in Bahrain as in previous years, and our investigations were followed with lively interest from all quarters, prominent among them being the Ruler of Bahrain, His Highness Sheikh Sulman bin Hamad al-Khalifah, and the Heir Apparent, His Excellency Sheikh Isa bin Sulman al-Khalifah. We received assistance in many ways from the Secretary to the Government, G. W. R. Smith, and from the senior British authorities, The Political Resident Sir Bernard Burrows and the Political Agent C. A. Goult, as well as from the Vice President of the Bahrain Petroleum Company, M. H. Lipp, from the Director of the Public Works Department, M. Lees, and from the Commercial Superintendant of Petroleum Concessions Ltd., L. P. D. E. M. Brown-Greaves. One of the highlights of our stay was the participation of the expedition in the Bahrain Annual Exhibition held in the park on Jufair Road, where our pavillion, displaying the altar and cult-stones from the Barbar temples, throughout drew large crowds of spectators.

P.V. Glob.





Glob, P. (1958). Alabasterkar fra Bahrains templer. Kuml, 8(8), 138–145. Hentet fra