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Leading archaeologists from the Tayinat project working in Turkey have unearthed the remains of a monumental complex in the southeast of the country, revealing a door adorned with door sculptures, like the magnificently carved lion in the picture.
This portal gave access to the citadel of Kunulua, capital of the Neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina (959-725 BC) and is reminiscent of the other door found by the British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1919 during his excavations in the Hittite royal city by Carquemis.
This discovery has provided a valuable new insight into the innovative character and cultural sophistication of the Iron Age states that emerged in the Eastern Mediterranean after the fall of the great civilized powers of the Bronze Age at the end of the second millennium BC.
“The lion is intact and is 1.3 meters high and 1.6 meters long, sitting, with ears back, claws extended and roaring”Said Timothy Harrison, Professor of Near Eastern Archeology in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and director of the Tayinat Project.
“A second figure found in the immediate vicinity represents a human figure flanked by lions, an icon known as the Master and the animals, symbolizing the imposition of a civilized order from the chaotic forces of the natural world”.
“The presence of lions or sphinxes, or colossal statues of the Master and the animals, in Neo-Hittite cities of the Iron Age continues the tradition of the Hittite Bronze Age that accentuated their role as divinely appointed guardian or gatekeeper of the community.Harrison says. The elaborately decorated access doors were made for dynastic purposes, legitimizing the power of the ruling elite.
The gate complex could have been destroyed after the Assyrian conquest of the place in 738 BC, when the area was paved and became the central courtyard of a sacred site of that civilization.
“The stylistic features of the lion closely resemble those of the double lion that was the base of one of the columns discovered in the 1930s at the entrance to one of the temples that make up the Assyrian sacred precinct.Harrison said.
“Either reusing the sculpture or carved during the Assyrian occupation of the site, these lions belonged to a local Neo-Hittite because it is their sculptural tradition that goes back long before the arrival of the Assyrians, and they are not a product of cultural influence. Assyrian as researchers long assumed”.
Source: Toronto University
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