Hakkari Steles: Warrior-Shepherds in Eastern Anatolia, A Preliminary Note
Veli Sevin, Aynur Özfırat
Keywords: Hakkari, Stele, Eastern Anatolia, Warrior-Shepherds, Second millenium B.C
Thirteen stone steles were recovered in 1998 from the north flank of the medieval citadel situated in the center of the city of Hakkari. The steles, which range in height from 0.70 m to 3.10 m, were worked on only one face. Eleven of the steles depict males, nude except for a codpiece. A wide belt encircles their waists, suspended from which is a short, curved dagger, all identical. The figures each hold a vessel, clearly made from a skin, in both of their hands. A variety of artifacts and figures-metal weaponry, such as axes, daggers, knives, and spears, wild game animals, like mountain goats and deer, and human figures-are also worked on the surface of the steles. Noteworthy is the depiction of dome-shaped tents, typical of steppe dwellers. Two of the steles are assumed to have belonged to females, because they display characteristics of a different type. The Hakkari steles were sculpted by different hands, but they follow the guidelines of a common iconography. The steles belonged to a powerful ruling elite who resided in these tents. The typological properties of the weapons, such as the axes and daggers, permit the steles to be assigned to the second half of the second millenium B.C. The occurrence in ancient Anatolia and the Near East of these kinds of stones is rather rare. By contrast, hundreds of specimens have been recovered on the Eurasian steppes that derive from the long interval between the third millenium B.C. and A.D. twelfth century. In particular and despite the great time gap, the anthropomorphic grave stones of the Göktürk era in Central Asia represent a close parallel due to the vessels being held in both hands.