Friday, July 29, 2011

2,800 year-old lion statue discovered at Tell Tayinat in Turkey

There's breaking news from the site of Tell Tayinat, in Turkey. A team of archaeologists led by Tim Harrison, from the University of Toronto, have discovered a beautifully carved stone lion that dates back around 2,800 years. It stands nearly four feet tall and appears to be roaring.

Local media in Turkey have reported on it and the Turkish website Haberler has a video of the lion being moved. The project website also has a few low-res images of the lion. I was hoping to do a major story for Live Science but the team isn't ready quite yet to talk about the discovery with english language media.

Tayinat had been re-settled 3,200 years ago, at a time when cities and civilizations across the Middle East were reeling from an invasion of people from the Aegean known to us as the "Sea People."

The team has been excavating a temple at Tayinat that dates to this time and presumably this is where the lion was found.

The lion dates back to a time when Tayinat would have been the capital of a small independent kingdom, possibly called Palastin. In 738 BC this kingdom came to an end when the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III conquered the city and incorperated it into their empire.

It should be noted that in the 1930's archaeologist Robert Braidwood excavated at Tayinat and found lion statues of his own.

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