Friday, January 11, 2013

Statue of 9th Century B.C. Assyrian king discovered in Turkey

Another backlog item, as reported by Richard Cuthbertson in the Calgary Herald, August 10, 2012:

When it comes to uncovering invaluable monuments buried for millenniums halfway around the world, Darren Joblonkay has the golden touch.

The 23-year-old former Lethbridge man, now a PhD student at the University of Toronto, recently notched up his latest find in southeastern Turkey, a 3,000-year-old giant statue of a Patinean king.

Couple that with two major discoveries last year at the same Tayinat Archaeological Project excavation site, and what you have is a budding archeologist with the luck of Indiana Jones.

"It's unheard of, to be honest," Jablonkay said of his good fortune. "These finds that we've found in my square (are) very rare. You don't come across them very often."

The statue is very significant for two major reasons. It shows a high level of creativity not often seen in that part of the world during that period, and the inscription on the back helps with the historical narrative of the time...

...Working under the tutelage of his supervisor, University of Toronto archeologist Tim Harrison, Joblonkay travelled to Turkey in June, his second time at the project site.

He was put in charge of four workers, directed to dig out a 10-by-10-metre plot in the eastern side of an ancient square.

It was the "ting" of a shovel levelled by one of the crew against something hard that first alerted the group.

As Joblonkay scraped away the dirt with a trowel and brush, he found a small lion head.

It proved to be the bracelet attached to the arm of a 1.5-metre-tall basalt stone sculpture, lying face down, of King Suppiluliuma, who ruled around 858 B.C.

Only the head and torso has survived. The sculpture was likely once 3.5 metres tall. The head is covered with curly hair, and the eyes are open wide.

It once stood at a gate complex for the upper citadel of a royal city called Kunulua, the capital of Patina, a neo-Hittite kingdom that existed between 1000 and 738 B.C.

The director of the whole project, Harrison, recently said the find shows the "innovative character and sophistication" of eastern Mediterranean Iron Age cultures. It appears the Assyrian conquest of 738 B.C. destroyed the complex...

...All told, it took a week and a half to fully dig out the statue, which is now housed at a museum in Antalya, a Turkish city near the Mediterranean and the Syrian border.

The chief interest is the inscription on the back, written in an ancient language called Luwian. An expert i the language is now combing over the inscription to decipher what it says.

Lasy year, Joblonkay had been tasked with excavating the western side of the same square.

It's there he found a lion sculpture and a statue of a man, both important pieces.

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