Big (Literally) News out of Tel Tayinat

Suppiluliuma statue found at the Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site in southeastern Turkey (Jennifer Jackson)

Suppiluliuma statue found at the Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site in southeastern Turkey (Jennifer Jackson)

Via Live Science:

An international team of archaeologists has unearthed a beautiful and colossal human sculpture, perhaps of Suppiluliuma, at the Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site in southeastern Turkey.

Both pieces are from a monumental gate complex that provided access to the upper citadel of Kunulua, capital of the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina (1000-738 BC).

“These newly discovered Tayinat sculptures are the product of a vibrant local Neo-Hittite sculptural tradition,” said Prof Tim Harrison, the Tayinat Project director and professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the University of Toronto’s Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations.

“They provide a vivid glimpse into the innovative character and sophistication of the Iron Age cultures that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean following the collapse of the great imperial powers of the Bronze Age at the end of the second millennium BC,” he said.

The head and torso of the human figure, intact to just above its waist, stands approximately 1.5 m in height, suggesting a total body length of 3.5 to 4 m. The figure’s face is bearded, with beautifully preserved inlaid eyes made of white and black stone, and its hair has been coiffed in an elaborate series of curls aligned in linear rows. Both arms are extended forward from the elbow, each with two arm bracelets decorated with lion heads. The figure’s right hand holds a spear, and in its left is a shaft of wheat. A crescent-shaped pectoral adorns its chest.

A lengthy Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription, carved in raised relief across its back, records the campaigns and accomplishments of Suppiluliuma, likely the same Patinean king who faced a Neo-Assyrian onslaught of Shalmaneser III as part of a Syrian-Hittite coalition in 858 BC.

The second sculpture is a large semi-circular column base, approximately 1 m in height and 0.9 m in diameter, lying on its side next to the human figure. A winged bull is carved on the front of the column and it is flanked by a sphinx on its left. The right side of the column is flat and undecorated, an indication that it originally stood against a wall.

Well dug, Tim, well dug!

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4 Responses

  1. Is it just me or does he look like a Sesame Street character?

  2. It’s the big eyes. And yes.

  3. Dammit, I wish we could find a statue of Shup at Megiddo. :(

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