Trace & Myth
Edited by: E.S. Lassu
by: Aziz Emmanuel Zebari
rock sculpture lies in the south east of Mt. Sadk ( Elkush Mountain) at the
entrance of the wadi known as Gali Bindwaye (Gorge of Bindwaye). It is about
6km away fromAlqush to the south. Flowing in the wadi near this rock sculputure
is the rivulet of Bindwaye that waters the orchards lying to the south of Mt.
Sadk, whereupon it heads westward and flows into the Tigris.
relief is about 7m above the wadi bed within a rectangular niche in front of
which is a big bench-like arena.
the niche there is a big picture in relief measuring 124cm long representing a
standing man turning left in the manner of walking with his left foot forward
and the right foot back. He wears a cloth that hangs to the ankles ending with
a hem with tassels. In his left hand he holds a long stick believed to be a
staff while lifting his joined left hand high near his mouth pointing with his
right finger to the symbols of the gods carved in front of him which cannot be
idenfitied due to damage done to the relief. The man has a long beard hanging
down over his chest wile wearing a tarboosh. It is believed that the Shero
Malektha relief represents King Sennacherib ( 705-681 BC) who has handed down
to us such figures in Ma'althaya and Khannes in Bavian; for he has left his
figure in the middle of another irrigation project in which he caused water to
flow to irrigate the lands surrounding his capital Nineveh.
to the legend and the local tradition, Shero Malektha, i.e. (Queen Shero) is
related to the Assyrian Queen Shammuramat (810- 805BC) the regent queen for her
underaged son Adad-nirari 111. I think that, through the course fo time, the
name Shammuramat was shortened to Shammero and then to (Shero) to which was
added later (Malektha) which means queen in Aramaic. It is obvious that the
name Shammiram is the Aramiac word for the Assyrian name Shammuramat, and the
legend form Elkush has it that Shero Malektha was a benevolent queen who
thought of carrying out projects for the general welfare of her people. She was
worried about the thurst Alqush suffered from during summer and thus proposed
to divert the river of Bindwaye to Elkush.
queen had a short-sighted minister who had no craft other than intrigues and
treachery. When the queen commissioned him to dig the canal he went far away
southward to an unconvient place. The queen let him know that the site he had
chosen was not suitable to form a embankment for the canal to supply Alqush
with water as it was lower than the town’s level. The queen was right. But the
minister insisted for fear of uncovering his ignorance. And thus there was a
bet between the queen and her minister on who would be the first to succeed in
carrying water to the town.
queen started digging at the gorge’s entry whereby her labourers had to work
hard breaking the rocks and dig hard soil. The minister, however, sticked to his
view and started to dig in the plain area only to discover, a few days later,
that it was not really possible in this way to carry water to Elkush. Scared of
disgrace, he ordered during a dark night for long measures of white linen to be
broght and spread at night on the ground from where he had started digging near
the bank of Bindwaye River until Elkush. Before dawn, he went to the queen’s
camp and spoke with her in an nanner that showed as if he had succeeded in
carrying water to the town. At the light of daybreak the queen saw a white line
far in the south which linked Elkush with the river and thought she had lost
the bet. It looks like the queen was of a sensitive temper and was thus shocked
to death. The legend has it that her gallbladder burst out of anxiety and she
fell dead.Elkush was thus deprived of such a vital project until today.
have no idea as to the amount of truth in this legend, but apparently some
Assyrian kings used to divert rivers to supply important cities with water.
Cuneiform tablets tell us that Sennacherib brought fresh water to Nineveh from
a mountain pass in a stone-built canal. At the dike of the canal were carved
huge figures of the gods where some of the kings exploits were recorded. And
hence the legend may have an origin in the Assyrian history.