Mysterious 3,000-year-old Female Statue Uncovered In Turkey

For hundreds and thousands of years, sculptures have filled many roles in human history and played an important part in the development of societies and cultures. The earliest known sculpture was likely created to provide aid and luck to hunters. After the rise of civilizations, statues and sculptures were used to represent the form of Gods, and these statues are what the earliest people worshiped. Some ancient kings created portraits of themselves, with the idea that it would make them immortal, and thus, portrait sculpturing was born. In recent times, sculpturing has become a hobby for many people, and sculptures are mostly created either for work and business, or recreational purposes.

3917a Large.jpg

Archaeologists at the University of Toronto led an excavation in Southeast Turkey near the Syrian border. From this excavation, they have unearthed a beautifully carved head and a torso of a female figure. The figure appears to be largely intact, but somehow, the face and chest are shown to have been intentionally – and possibly ritually – defaced in antiquity.

 CREDIT: Tayinat Archaeological Project

CREDIT: Tayinat Archaeological Project

The lower part of the statue is missing, but the remnants of the figurine is made of a reddish basalt stone and measures 1.1 meters long and 0.7 meters wide. The researchers suggested that the full figure would have stood 16 feet high.

For hundreds and thousands of years, sculptures have filled many roles in human history and played an important part in the development of societies and cultures. The earliest known sculpture was likely created to provide aid and luck to hunters. After the rise of civilizations, statues and sculptures were used to represent the form of Gods, and these statues are what the earliest people worshiped. Some ancient kings created portraits of themselves, with idea that it would make them immortal, and thus, portrait sculpturing was born. In recent times, sculpturing has become a hobby for many people, and sculptures are mostly created either for work and business, or recreational purposes.

Archaeologists at the University of Toronto led an excavation in Southeast Turkey near the Syrian border. From this excavation, they have unearthed a beautifully carved head and a torso of a female figure. The figure appears to be largely intact, but somehow, the face and chest are shown to have been intentionally – and possibly ritually – defaced in antiquity.

The lower part of the statue is missing, but the remnants of the figurine is made of a reddish basalt stone and measures 1.1 meters long and 0.7 meters wide. The researchers suggested that the full figure would have stood 16 feet high.

Timothy Harrison, a professor from the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto says,

The statue was found face down in a thick bed of basalt stone chips that included shard-like fragments of her eyes, nose and face, but also fragments of sculptures previously found elsewhere within the gate area. That parts of these monumental sculptures have been found deposited together suggests there may have been an elaborate process of interment or decommissioning as part of their destruction.

The statue was discovered at the monumental gate complex that could have possibly provided access to the upper citadel Kunulua – later known as Tayinat – the capital of the Iron Age Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina (ca. 1000-738 BCE). The site can be located approximately 75 kilometers west of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

 Credit: Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey

Credit: Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara, Turkey

The identity of this female figurine has not yet been determined, but the archaeological team had guesses as to who this statue may have represented. They believe that the statue was a representation of Kubaba, the divine mother of gods of ancient Anatolia. However, this hypothesis is not fully supported because the statue shows stylistic and iconographic hints that the statue represented a human figure. Some researchers also believe that it could be the wife of King Suppiluliuma, or even more intriguingly, a woman named Kupapiyas, who was the wife or mother of Taita, the dynastic founder of ancient Tayinat.

"The discovery of this statue raises the possibility that women played a much more prominent role in the political and religious lives of the early Iron Age communities compared to what existing historical records suggest" says Harrison.

Also, the statue provides valuable insights into the character and sophistication of the indigenous Iron Age cultures that had emerged in the eastern Mediterranean following the collapse of the great civilized power of the Bronze Age. The presence of lions, sphinxes, and colossal human statues at the citadel gateways continued a Bronze Age Hittite tradition that accentuated the symbolic role of space that serves as the boundary zones between the ruling elite and their subjects.

The Tayinat gate complex was destroyed and has been converted into the central courtyard of an Assyrian sacred precinct. Tayinat was then transformed into an Assyrian provincial capital, with a governor and imperial administration.

Every event that occurred in the past played an important role in shaping our society today. With more research, this discovery may have the potential to provide invaluable insight into the lives and sophisticated culture of individuals and communities during the Iron Age.


Sources:

  1. https://phys.org/news/2017-08- archaeologists-uncover- year-old- female-statue.html

  2. http://www.heritagedaily.com/2017/08/archaeologists-uncover- 3000-year- old-female- statue-citadel-gate-complex- turkey/116287

  3. http://www.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3753866

  4. https://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2002CD/finalprogram/abstract_34786.htm