Is Godin Tepe Aratta?

Godin Tepe is an archaeological site approximately 12 miles southwest of Alvand mountain, near Kangavar, Iran. Aratta is a “mythical” mountain mentioned in several Sumerian texts.

Godin Tepe  photo from excavation (1965-1973) led by T. Cuyler Young, Jr., sponsored by the Royal Ontario Museum

In the process of searching for Noah’s Ark, I started to see a nexus between the biblical Flood narrative and Sumerian flood legends. I pondered if biblical Ararat was the same as Sumerian Aratta. I started to consider the clues of Aratta’s location provided in the translation of the clay tablets, Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta and Lugalbanda in the Mountain Cave:

* When starting travel to Aratta from Uruk, you pass Susa, then follow a river through seven (7) passes or gates in the “Zubi” (Zagros) mountains

* Mountains 5, 6 and 7 are emphasized
* The cave that Lugalbanda stayed in was 1/2 the way to Aratta
* Aratta had metal moulds and precious stones

I started using Google Earth and followed any river heading from Susa into the Zagros Mountains. I was looking for the “seven mountains” access over the mountains. As I followed the Karkheh river from Susa until it split near Pol Dokhtar, where the river becomes the Kashkan, I noticed three prominent mountains, which I eventually labeled 5, 6, and 7. I felt that I had identified the seven mountains route to Aratta. I also noticed an interesting mound in the general area of where Awan (Anshan) is supposed to be located. Anshan after 1973, is considered Tall-i Malyan (46 km north of Shiraz), which does not fit the Sumerian narrative. We may discover that at some point in history that both Awan and Anshan (Ancan or Anzan) were used interchangeably. I hope this mound will one day be explored and excavated, which may prove to be the location of ancient Awan.

Credit Google Earth for background image used for “seven mountains” route over the Zagros “Zubi” Mountains

Close up of mound that may be the location of ancient Awan?

Looking for other research that corroborates Godin Tepe or the surrounding area as Aratta, I found the 1973 Ph.D. dissertation of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta by Sol Cohen, who determined the area near Hamadan – Nahavand – Kermanshah to be the most likely location for Aratta.

I purchased and read most of the book On the High Road by Hilary Gopnik and Mitchell S. Rothman, which provided a detailed report of excavations of Godin Tepe by T. Cuyler Young, Jr. between 1965 to 1973. Godin Tepe is one of the largest mounds in the region, and provides the longest continual sequence of occupation of any site in western Iran and contains the following: moulds used to produce metal, lapis lazuli, early evidence for beer and wine production, and lots of goats (caprines).

Chart from the book “On the High Road”

Aratta was known as the "mother of goats." Notice the chart above showing the high number of goats found at Godin Tepe site.

Aratta is also described as very wealthy. Archaeological evidence linking Susa and Uruk to Godin Tepe is important to connecting Godin Tepe with Aratta.

Map showing route from Susa through the seven mountains to Godin Tepe (Aratta?)

The Epic of Gilgamesh (Tablet nine) mentions Mount Mashu or twin-peaked mountain. Most researchers assume the twin-peaked Mt. Ararat in Turkey to meet the description of Mashu, but approximately 40 miles southwest-west of Godin Tepe is Parau Mountain that also has two peaks.

Photo of Parau Mountain by M. Mahdi Ahadian 2016

With growing confidence that Aratta was not a myth, I went to the Bible passage that never seemed to line up with Mt. Ararat in Turkey:

Genesis 11:2 (KJV) And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

The location of Shinar is not exactly known, but believed to be in the general vicinity of Babylon or southern Mesopotamia (Sumer). Mt. Ararat is over 600 miles north in Turkey. So after mapping the holy mountains of Turkey and Iran, it became clear, at least to me, that Alvand mountain best fits the “from the east” biblical narrative mentioned in Genesis 11:2.

Credit Google Maps for background image

This led me to write the book Seven Mountains to Aratta that postulates that the biblical mountains of Ararat and Sumerian Aratta are likely the same location, and therefore where Noah’s Ark landed.