Pic of the Day 2017-10-04: An ancient garden statue center

A Sphnix statue in basalt at Yesemek (photo © Daniel C Browning Jr).

Yesemek is a rather unusual archaeological site in Turkey, 6 km from Syria. The “ruins” are really a workshop for production of standard Hittite (and Neo-Hittite) monumental statuary used to decorate palaces and public buildings.

Basalt carvings at Yesemek (photo © Daniel C Browning Jr).

The basic forms were created here and then transported and perhaps detailed at the cities where they were installed. Hundreds of standardized forms still stand on the hillside, like the concrete statue places found outside of cities all over the world today.

Mountain gods
Mountain gods with moon discs; basalt statuary at Yesemek (photo © Daniel C Browning Jr).


Lion or bear-man
A lion-man (or is it a bear-man?) relief at Yesemek (photo © Daniel C Browning Jr).

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Pic of the Day 2017-09-29

Yerkapi: the monumental wall, gate, and glacis system at Hattusa, capital of the Late Bronze Age Hittite Empire (photo © Daniel C Browning Jr).

This is the first post in my series entitled “Pic of the Day.” The pic (above, I assume, but not sure yet how this is going to work on all viewing platforms—feel free to complain about appearance on your device) is not particularly exciting or beautiful but has some potential interest to colleagues and those who have traveled with me to Turkey . . . AND it happens to have the shape ratio I wanted to start with as an experiment.

Anyway . . . this Pic of the Day shows the monumental entrance gate complex, called Yerkapi in Turkish, at the high point of the ancient Hittite capital, Hattusas, built in the late 13th century BC. The city wall and its impressive “Sphinx Gate” at the top are buttressed by a gargantuan stone glacis, or sloped revetment.

Sphinx Gate
The Sphinx Gate from inside Hattusas; looking east inside the city wall (photo © Daniel C Browning Jr).

The defensive purpose ostensibly was to prevent undermining of the wall or attacks by battering rams at this point. But the glacis itself is penetrated by a “postern gate,” the opening of which can be seen at the bottom center. That and other impracticalities suggest ceremonial or propaganda purposes outweighed defense concerns. That may have been poor administration, as the Hittite Empire completely fell not long after the complex’s construction.

The only remarkable thing about the photo is that the entire width of the huge structure is depicted, and this only happened because: a) my colleague David Maltsberger and I climbed the hill opposite and came out of the woods at an exposed cliff just opposite the center of the gate; and b) I used the panorama function of my phone to get it all in the frame.

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