Archeology shrouded in mystery and arousing the curiosity of researchers.. What is the story of the Tar Caves in Karbala?

Karbala- Al-Tar Caves are a deep trace of history.. It is said that they are more than 4,000 years old, and many international excavation missions did not agree on the secret of its existence in an area to the west of Karbala, which is littered with antiquities through the ages.

Al-Tar Caves are located on a high place above ground level in the depth of the desert, to the right of the road leading to the town of Ain Tamr, southwest of Karbala. In this impact, more than 400 caves were not natural, as the researchers say, but rather are man-made, and each cave has an entrance opening that is one and a half meters high and half a meter wide. Caves take the form of rooms or small rooms.

The oldest inhabitation of these caves was between 1200 and 1300 BC, that is, it lived through the period of the ancient Assyrian era, and due to its geographical location, it may be the last of the Assyrian settlements at its southern borders.

Al-Tar Caves went through 3 phases, the first of which is prehistoric, the second is the Parthian era, and the third is the first Islamic era (Al-Jazeera)

The three phases

History has major transformations, which is also reflected in the archeology and historical analyzes of it, so this region – as the former director of Karbala antiquities Hussein Yasser says – has gone through 3 phases, the first of which is “13 centuries pre-history, the second is the Parthian era, and the third is the first Islamic era.”

Yasser points out that the number of caves is “about 400 artificial caves carved and excavated by humans around the year 1300 BC, and may have been used for defensive purposes at first and then made graves later, that is, in the period between the 13th century BC to the third century AD.”

He goes on to say that “the depressions surrounding the caves were connected to each other, forming a valley extending from north to south and then separated from each other due to earth movements.”

Regarding the excavations that took place, Yasser points out that in 1970, an excavation mission from Kokichikan University in Japan, headed by Professor Hideo Fujii, began its first excavation season in the Tar Caves, and began its work in mound A, whose soil consists of two layers of clay and sandstone.

The expedition continued its work in 1972 in a group of caves, and found that knowing how humans interact with this geographical medium requires conducting topographical, geological and hydrological explorations.

Hussein Yasser - The caves went through three phases and were connected to each other before the geological transformations (Al-Jazeera)Yasser believes that the history of the Tar Caves is still a mystery (Al-Jazeera)

As a result, the expedition revealed remains near hill “A” and two rooms in the northeast of the cave, and it appeared that the shape of the room is irregular, and the floor of the entrance is connected from the left side with a bench that extends into two parts, and in the floor of the bench it revealed remains of skeletons and pieces of skin, Which is similar to what happened in the other rooms with irregular corridors with a primitive carving in the form of an arrow pointing upwards.

Yasser points out that in 1984 the mission found the floors covered with quantities of sand and limestone with a group of beads and a metal ring decorated with a score and a golden crescent-shaped disk. The leather has traces of sewing, and is of simple weaving, decorated with drawings, and twill, and with colored decorations and geometric shapes, and it seems that it dates back to the Hellenistic era.

The researcher confirms that the matter is still a secret regarding the history of the archeology, and the reason is that each mission sees the matter according to its analyzes, and it includes all archaeological sites.

Dr..  Adnan Obaid Al-Masoudi - The inhabitants of the caves represent the supreme origins of the people of Sumer (Al-Jazeera)Al-Masoudi: The inhabitants of the caves represent the supreme origins of the people of Sumer (Al-Jazeera)

bygone eras

The special mass is formed from rocky, clay, or even gypsum materials for the region. Therefore, the secret in determining the date was due to the inability of any party to link the historical events with each other, as confirms the researcher in archeology and philosophy of history, Dr. Adnan Obaid Al-Masoudi.

Al-Masoudi adds that this site is a large fault or landslide, dating back to ancient geological eras, and it extends with a spiny bifurcation around the base of Lake Al-Razzaza in the north, and zigzags with an indented crescent arc towards the south and southwest, to meet 45 km southwest of Kufa, deep The Taff Desert, Batarat, a depression in the Bahr al-Najaf, to form an acute-angled refractive head, northwest of this sea.

He believes that some of the peaks and mounds of the Al-Tar Caves, or as some call them the hills due to their plurality, “rise to more than 100 meters above sea level, especially in some of the hills of Najaf.”

Al-Masoudi describes these tires as a landslide that occurred in one of the ancient geological eras, as a result of a subsidence in one of the sections of the western plate of the western Euphrates plateau, leaving from the Tuff plateau a hilly mass suspended at a height of more than 70 meters above sea level, considering that this represents a line A great fault refers to what archaeologists have noticed of the existence of a very large number of caves, some of them isolated in separate mountain mounds, others representing continuous chains.

He considered that these caves represent different residential layers, as they are sometimes formed by vaults that rise over each other, and he mentions that when the ancient Euphrates River, which was passing through Lake Al-Razzaza, overflowed, the water was sweeping the low caves, so the early inhabitants of the caves changed their residence to the higher caves.

Al-Masoudi criticized the concerned Iraqi authorities, who were unable to determine a specific date or time for this impact, but he added by analyzing the nature of the cave dwellers, as they may represent the higher origins of the Sumer people who descended on the sedimentary plain, more than 5 thousand years BC, and they may have been the ancient ancestors of the inhabitants of Tell Slaves and the early Uruk dynasty.

In his analysis or conclusion, he links the matter with the existence of a delicate thread that combines the gradual shape of the Tarrat with accumulated geological stratigraphic formations, and the Sumerian and Babylonian ziggurat geometry formed from the accumulated Riazi layers with a unique geometric formation. Hunting and gathering food, and between the ages of animal domestication, and the early ages of the renaissance of agriculture.

Hassan Al-Wazani - If new excavations are carried out, new things will be discovered that may change the chain of history of Iraq (Al-Jazeera)Al-Wazani expects that the upcoming excavations in the Al-Tar caves will discover new things that may change the history of Iraq (Al-Jazeera)

orphan mission

In front of the multiplicity of narrators, which is similar to the multiplicity of sources about the formation of this region, there are those who say that these caves date back to the Babylonian era. A place out of sight to rewrite their Torah.

This is confirmed by the researcher Hussain Al-Wazani by saying that “the history of this relic goes back thousands of years and is called the folk term “Al-Tar”, and indicates that the Japanese mission found evidence that the Al-Tar Caves went through 3 civilized roles. The second is that the caves “were used as tombs in the period between 300 BC and 300 AD, a phase that coincides in time with the countries and civilizations of Palmyra, Hatra, and the confusion surrounding the Al Tar Caves area in that period.”

Al-Wazani says that the third phase is the “Islamic era, when the Japanese mission found two thousand different artifacts, including clothes.” Therefore, he believes, as an analysis, that these caves “were inhabited for more than 1480 years, according to historical data,” and the reason for not specifying their date is due to the fact that The Japanese excavation mission is the only orphan mission that worked in this place in 1955, and if new excavations are conducted, new things will be discovered that may change the chain of ancient Iraq’s history.

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