Ancient tablet unearthed in Erbil Citadel contains cuneiform message to Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region of Iraq — Archeologists working within the ancient walls of the historic Erbil Citadel made an astonishing discovery on Wednesday as they deciphered an ancient inscription on a millennia-old tablet unearthed during their excavations. The inscription is believed to be a message written to Ishtar, the revered Mesopotamian goddess of love, war, and fertility.

Hezha Zahir, the head of the Artifacts Department at Erbil Citadel, revealed that the team of archeologists successfully decoded the cuneiform writings on the tablet, providing a unique glimpse into the history of the site. Among the deciphered words, the most striking was “great queen”, a reference to Ishtar. This finding supports the longstanding belief that Ishtar’s temple might have been housed within the walls of the Erbil Citadel.

The Citadel’s Artifacts Department, in collaboration with the French Institute of the Near East, initiated a 45-day excavation project at the heart of the Citadel, marking the first of its kind within the ancient fortress. The last significant excavation process occurred in the surrounding areas of the historic citadel back in 2015. The current project is set to conclude on Thursday.

“Erbil has been mentioned in numerous ancient texts of Mesopotamia, but this time, we have discovered a tablet right within Erbil Citadel itself,” stated George Muammaris, the director of the French Institute of Near East, to Rudaw. The tablets, believed to date back to the second millennium BC, open a new chapter in the exploration of Erbil’s historic significance.