Qyzqapan Tomb – Dokan, Iraq - Atlas Obscura

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Qyzqapan Tomb

Dokan, Iraq

Ancient rock-cut tomb? Definitely. That of a great Median king? Unlikely. 


In a remote valley in Iraqi Kurdistan lies an ancient tomb carved into a rocky cliff, decorated with Hellenistic carvings and columns befitting a king and Zoroastrian symbols dating back to early human civilization. 

Many sources claim the archaeological site of Qizqapan is the tomb of Cyaxares, the great king of the Median empire who saw to the end of Assyrian hegemony, ushering in a Median age (only to then be supplanted by the Persians themselves). It may seem strange that this burial place in Iraqi Kurdistan should be that of a Median king, and indeed it is unlikely. Whose tomb was it? We’ll never know. It was looted in antiquity and is now graffitied by locals. 

Nevertheless, it cannot be doubted that this really was a monumental piece of architecture, not too dissimilar to the more lavish examples of rock tombs around Persepolis in the East, or the plainer ones in the Urartu citadel at Van to the north.  Above the main door is an impressive relief. A religious scene, we see a high-status individual standing beside a fire altar, hand raised in prayer.  On the other side, another individual appears to be involved in the ceremony. The tomb has three burial chambers, each with a hewn grave in the left corners, all accessible from the central chamber. 

Update as of November 2021: The location is now greatly obscured by a large fence and may be difficult to view.

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February 13, 2018

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