Hittite Carvings

A cool article from Reuter’s. Lots of their stuff goes away, so I copied what I was interested in.

… discovered two winged creatures carved on a basalt slab dating from the Hittite period in the second millennium BC….

…unique carvings of, among others, sparring lions, bull men, and a figure of a half man and half fish with slender hands.

A main slab shows the storm god, club in hand, mounting a chariot drawn by a muscular bull. The altar of the temple was also discovered almost intact.

“The carvings are kept so well, although you can see traces of a fire from the first millennium BC,” he said, adding that ancient quarries matching the basalt used in the temple were recently found a few km (miles) outside Aleppo.

A research paper on how to protect the site, published by the Syrian ministry of culture and the World Monument Fund, said the temple represented the first known use of decorated stone slabs in the Near East.


The temple, archaeologists say, has helped shed light on the Hittites and the Luwian-Aramean kingdoms closely linked to them.

One of the slabs shows a king making an offering to the storm god, which Luwian hieroglyphs named as King Taitas of Padasatini, a previously unknown kingdom that ruled in southern Turkey and Syria, the research paper said.

Hittites were an Indo-European race who settled in Anatolia in what is now Turkey in the 18th century BC and grew 300 years later into a major military power that reached Syria and Iraq before collapsing around the 13th century BC.

They were fearsome warriors, sacking Babylon in 1595 BC, but also engaged diplomatically with pharaohs from Egypt’s 18th dynasty, who ruled large parts of the Syrian coast including present-day Lebanon.

Some of this diplomatic correspondence was found among archives of the pharaoh Akhenaton, discovered in Egypt.

Professor Kay Kohlmeyer, who headed the German mission in Aleppo, said the sophistication of the Storm God temple is helping to show ancient Syria was not just a cultural backwater.

“There is nothing like these reliefs from the Hittite Empire period (1420-1200). The challenge now is to preserve the temple,” he said.

Basalt is known to become weak when exposed to the sun and rain, especially if buried for a long period, Kohlmeyer said.

Anatolia is where Wynne ended up and where she met Uncle Toban. This was about the real time period of my story. And my story takes place in Hittite Syria. I didn’t know that before.