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Portraits of a Forgotten Kingdom: Tayanat Sculptures and Other Recent Discoveries on the Plain of Antioch in Southeastern Turkey
Wednesday, November 18, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST
Dr. Timothy Harrison, Professor, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto
The remains of a series of majestic sculptures have been uncovered during the University of Toronto’s ongoing excavations at Tell Tayinat (ancient Kunulua), royal city of the Neo–Hittite Kingdom of Palastin/Walastin, located in the North Orontes Valley, southeastern Turkey. The sculptures, found carefully deposited in the vicinity of a monumental gate leading to the site’s upper mound, or citadel, include the head and torsos of male and female figures, the latter intentionally—possibly ritually—defaced in antiquity, a winged bull andsphinx, and a magnificently carved lion figure. The sculptures date to the early 9th century BCE, and they are identified in inscriptions as the representations of important royal figures in the ruling Neo–Hittite dynasty at Tayinat, contemporary rivals of the Phoenicians and biblical Israelites to the south. The discovery of the Tayinat sculptures accentuates the remarkable sculptural tradition of the Iron Age communities of Syro–Anatolia, and highlights the innovative role these communities played in thebroader cultural and political ferment witnessed in the eastern Mediterranean during the early centuries of the first millennium BCE. This illustrated lecture will present these extraordinary sculptures and other recent discoveries of the Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP) excavations and contextualize these discoveries within the broader cultural milieu of the early first millennium eastern Mediterranean world.