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Arslantepe

 

 

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The Eastern Anatolian Region of Turkey: Arslantepe Mound (Melid)

   

The Eastern Anatolian Region of Turkey Cultural Map of North East Turkey

   

Arslantepe (Melid) was an ancient city on the Tohma River, a tributary of the upper Euphrates rising in the Taurus Mountains. It has been identified with the modern archaeological site of Arslantepe near Malatya, Turkey.

 

Arslantepe Ruins


It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Arslantepe Mound on 26 July 2021.

 

Arslantepe was first investigated by the French archaeologist Louis Delaporte from 1932 to 1939. From 1946 to 1951 Claude F.A. Schaeffer carried out some soundings.

The first Italian excavations at the site of Arslantepe started in 1961, and were conducted under the direction of Professors Piero Meriggi and Salvatore M. Puglisi until 1968. The choice of the site was initially due to their desire to investigate the Neo-Hittite phases of occupation at the site, a period in which Malatya was the capital of one of the most important reigns born after the destruction of the Hittite Empire in its most eastern borders. Majestic remains of this period had been known from Arslantepe since the 1930s after they were brought to light by a French expedition. The Hittitologist Meriggi only took part in the first few campaigns and later left the direction to Puglisi, a palaeoethnologist, who expanded and regularly conducted yearly investigations under regular permit from the Turkish government. Alba Palmieri took over the supervision of the excavation during the 1970s. In the early 21st century, the archaeological investigation was led by Marcella Frangipane.

 

The earliest habitation at the site dates back to the Chalcolithic period.

Aslantepe (VII) became important in this region in the Late Chalcolithic. A monumental area with a huge mudbrick building stood on top of a mound. The building had a large building with wall decorations and its function is uncertain.

 

A nearby site, Degirmentepe, located 24 km north east of Melid. is notable as the location of the earliest secure evidence of copper smelting. The site was built on a small natural outcrop in the flood plain about 40m from the Euphrates River.

 

By the late Uruk period development had grown to include a large temple/palace complex.

Culturally, Melid was part of the "Northern regions of Greater Mesopotamia" functioning as a trade colony along the Euphrates River bringing raw materials to Sumer (Lower Mesopotamia).

 

Numerous similarities have been found between these early layers at Arslantepe, and the somewhat later site of Birecik (Birecik Dam Cemetery), also in Turkey, to the southwest of Melid.

Around 3000 BCE, the transitional EBI-EBII, there was widespread burning and destruction, after which Kura-Araxes culture pottery appeared in the area. This was a mainly pastoralist culture connected with the Caucasus mountains. In the Late Bronze Age, the site became an administrative center of a larger region in the kingdom of Isuwa. The city was heavily fortified, probably due to the Hittite threat from the west. It was culturally influenced by the Hurrians, Mitanni and the Hittites.

 

Hittite relief from Arslantepe



Around 1350 BC, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites conquered Melid in his war against Tushratta of Mitanni. At the time Melid was a regional capital of Isuwa at the frontier between the Hittites and the Mitanni; it was loyal to Tushratta. Suppiluliuma I used Melid as a base for his military campaign to sack the Mitanni capital Wassukanni.

 

After the end of the Hittite empire, from the 12th to 7th century BC, the city became the center of an independent Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu. A palace was built and monumental stone sculptures of lions and the ruler erected.

The encounter with the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (1115–1077 BC) resulted in the kingdom of Melid being forced to pay tribute to Assyria. Melid remained able to prosper until the Assyrian king Sargon II (722–705 BC) sacked the city in 712 BC. At the same time, the Cimmerians and Scythians invaded Anatolia and the city declined.

According to Igor Diakonoff and John Greppin, there was likely an Armenian presence in Melid by 1200 BCE.
 

 

 
   
   
   
 

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Last modified: 2022-06-26
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