Newly Found Roman God Stumps Experts
Archaeologists say he could be a Roman-Near Eastern hybrid
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2014 7:00 PM CST
Updated Nov 29, 2014 11:31 AM CST
The newly discovered Roman god.   (Forschungsstelle Asia Minor)

(Newser) – Archaeologists have unearthed an ancient sculpture of a bearded man standing in a plant—and while they say it's most definitely a god, they have no idea which one. Found at the site of a Roman temple in Turkey, the roughly 2,000-year-old relief "clearly" depicts a deity, per Michael Blomer, an archaeologist on the project. But more than a dozen experts were unable to identify the god when asked to do so by LiveScience. "There are some elements reminiscent of ancient Near Eastern gods, as well, so it might be some very old god from before the Romans," notes Blomer. In fact, the temple site is on a mountain above one of Earth's most continuously populated areas, where Persians, Hittites, and Arameans have lived.

With its "chalice of leaves" and "tree," the 5-foot-high structure may depict a fertility deity, Science Daily reports—possibly a subdeity of Jupiter Dolichenus, the temple's main god. The image does include Mesopotamian elements like a rosette and crescent moon at the bottom. "The bottom bits are from the Near East and the top bits are classical," says classicist Gregory Woolf. "He looks to me like he was somebody from a native, very local pantheon." The mix of elements isn't unusual, he adds; gods typically got "a face-lift" when one culture overlapped another. (Read about old stone circles that are baffling archaeologists.)