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Arslantepe (Malitiya / Malizi)

Arslantepe is the current name of the Hittite city site of Malitiya. The city was known as Malizi in Neo-Hittite period and referred to in Assyrian and Urartian sources as Melid or Melitia. The Arslantepe mound is located on the bank of Euphrates about 4 km to the north-east of modern day Malatya. First excavations were conducted by French teams in the 1930s (Louis Delaporte) and late 1940s (Claude Schaeffer). Since 1961 Italian teams have been carrying out the excavations with some intervals under Piero Meriggi, Salvatore Puglisi, Alba Palmieri, and currently Marcella Frangipane.

Arslantepe, Turkish for Lion Hill, gets its name from the lion statues excavated at the location in the early excavations. The site has a rich history going back to 4th millennium BCE. The city and the region probably came under Hittite rule in the 14th century BCE. After the collapse of the Hittite state around 1180 BCE, initially it was a part of the Kingdom of Karkamış and ruled by the descendants of the Hittite Great Kings. By the 11th century BCE it became an independent state. In 712 BCE the city was sacked and made part of Assyria by King Sargon II.

Most of the monumental orthostats and sculptures originate from the area of the Lions Gate. Although the construction of the last phase of the Lion Gate has been dated to the early 8th century BCE, most of the sculptures and reliefs found there were apparently reused originally coming from earlier structures dating from 12th to 10th centuries BCE. With the exception of a few orthostats in Malatya Museum, most of the finds are displayed in the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara.

Click on the pictures for larger images.

The Site
Satellite view of Arslantepe Höyük - Google Earth, 2021 Plan of the Iron Age levels of Arslantepe - adapted from L. Delaporte, 1940
Lion Gate
View of the Lion Gate area from the northeast - L. Delaporte, 1940 Plan of the Lion Gate - Adapted from W. Orthmann, 1971 Drawing of the Lion Gate - L. Delaporte, 1940 View of the south-facing orthostats behind the west wing of the Lion Gate - L. Delaporte, 1940
West wing orthostats
Libation scene Libation scene B. Bilgin, 2017 B. Bilgin, 2017
Lion Gate west wing lion Libation scene Libation scene
East wing orthostats
B. Bilgin, 2017 B. Bilgin, 2017 King is pouring libation Mythological scene - slaying of the serpent Illuyanka
Lion Gate east wing lion Libation scene Libation scene
Orthostats of an earlier gate structure
Storm God on three sided orthostat Winged genie on three sided orthostat Bull on the three sided orthostat Winged genie orthostat Winged genie orthostat Winged genie orthostat Lion Men Bird Men
Other orthostat and steles
Libation scene J.D. Hawkins, 2000 - photo: H. Gonnet Orthostat fragment B. Bilgin, 2017 Lion hunt Stag hunt Karhuha and Kubaba stele
Statue of a king and other dfragments
The statue as excavated - L. Delaporte, 1940 Statue of a king - B. Bilgin, 2017 Statue of a king - B. Bilgin, 2022 Statue - T. Bilgin, 2014 Statue head - W. Orthmann, 1971

Delaporte, L. Malatya I. La porte des lions, Paris, 1940.
Frangipane, M. "Melid. B. Archäologisch," RlA 8, 1993: 42–52.
Frangipane, M. et al. "Arslantepe: new data on the Formation of the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Melid," News from the Lands of the Hittites, Scientific Journal for Anatolian Research v. 3-4, 2019-2020: 71-111.
Hawkins, J. D. "Melid. A. Historisch," RlA 8 1993: 35–41.
Hawkins, J. D. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol 1, Berlin, 2000: 282–329 and plts. 147–52, 155–56, 163–64.
Liverani, M. "Melid in the Early and Middle Iron Age: Archaeology and History," in The Ancient Near East in the 12th–10th Centuries BCE. Culture and History, edited by G. Galil et al. AOAT 392, Münster 2012: 327-344.
Manuelli, F. "Carving the memory, altering the past: PUGNUS-mili and the earlier Iron Age rulers at Arslantepe/Malizi," FsStobel 2019: 227–41.
Orthmann, W. Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst, Bonn, 1971.
(List of Abbreviations)

Image sources:
Tayfun Bilgin, 2006, 2017.
Bora Bilgin, 2017, 2022.
Clelia Mora, Arslantepe IX, 2013: 273.
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
Winfried Orthmann, 1971.
Museé du Louvre, 1985.