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I have an update incoming, but I thought it would be nice to share this picture of the Kelashin Stele, an object dating back to the ancient Kingdom of Urartu. Urartu existed in roughly what is the Kurdish and Armenian regions of the Middle-East currently, that is in political terms Eastern Turkey, Northern Iraq, Northwestern Iran, and the Southern Caucasus during the years of 860 BC–590 BC. Urartu was conquered by the Median Empire in its expansion into the Middle East. Due to its presence in Kurdish regions, Urartu is often listed as one of the “indigenous” ancient groups that played a role in the ethnogenesis of the modern Kurdish people, along with Aryan groups and Islamic conquest.

Kelashin in Kurdish is a combination of two words. “Kel” can refer to a variety of things ranging from a tombstone to marker, but is generally understood to be treated with respect. “Shin” is blue, and refers to the dark hue of the stone the stele is made from. This is sometimes translated as a “Blue Holy Stone”, or at least as wikipedia puts it as.

The inscription is in both Urartian and Assyrian, and commemorates the conquest of an Assyrian city, Musasir, or Ardini in Urartian. The exact location of this city is speculated, but the Stele itself is located in an eponymous village in Iraqi Kurdistan on the border with Iran. You can view the region in google maps by clicking here. During the war against Iraq by the peshmerga in the 1980s, the Kelashin area was one of the routes used for peshmerga entering into the region. Many of them were familiar with the stele as a landmark, and did have their picture taken with as follows below.

The images that follow were taken by Dr. Mohamad Salah Gomah, who has chronicled Kurdish history with his photography, covering the 1960s through to the early part of the last decade, especially the activities of the peshmerga and the KDP.

Click on an image to enlarge it.