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Tell Ahmar

Tell Ahmar is located on the east bank of the Euphrates about 20 km south of Karkamış. In the Hittite Empire period records the city is encountered with the name Mazuwadi, but it gained particular importance between the 10th and 8th centuries BCE as an independent kingdom during which it was known with the Luwian name Masuwari and the Aramaean name Til Barsip. The site was first explored in 1908 by David Hogarth and later excavated by François Thureau-Dangin between 1929 and 1931. From the late 1980s until 2010 it was excavated by Guy Bunnens initially with University of Melbourne and later with University of Liège, Belgium. Several orthostats and steles, some with hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions, have been found in and around the site. The site also yielded numerous artifacts from the Assyrian period. Since the building of the Tishrin Dam in the 1990s eastern half of the lower town has been flooded.

Tell Ahmar 1 is a large 3 meters tall stele dating from about the mid 9th century BCE. The front face of the stele has a relief of the Storm-god standing on a bull. Above the god the fragmentary traces of a winged sun-disk is visible. Th eight-line Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription covers the three sides of it and written in first person by a ruler of Masuwari who identifies himself as the son of Ariyahina (see king list below). This inscription describes exchange of power between two dynasties. The stele is in the National Museum in Aleppo.

Tell Ahmar 2 is a similar stele with a Storm-god figure below a winged sun-disk, presumably standing on a bull, but the bottom section of the stele is broken. It has a 10-line Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription which is a dedication by king Hamiyata to the gods. The shape of the back side of the stele suggests that it may have been standing in a gateway or some other structure. It was found in 1928 near Tell Ahmar by villagers. It dates to the late 10th to early 9th century BCE. Currently in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Another inscribed stele of Hamiyata (Borowski 3) is commemoration for the founding of the city of Haruha. It also shows a Storm-god figure in a similar form. The provenance of the stele is unknown. It may have originated from the city of Haruha, location of which is not known. Currently in the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem.

Tell Ahmar 5 is a fragment of a stele. It has 5 lines of an Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription which indicates dedication of granaries to the Storm-god of Aleppo. It too is written in first person by king Hamiyata. The stele was found in 1994 during the excavations in Tell Ahmar. Currently in the National Museum in Aleppo.

Tell Ahmar 6 is the most recently found and the best preserved of them. The stele probably fell into the Euphrates in antiquity where it was found in 1999 near the village of Qubbah, just to the south of Tell Ahmar. Physically the stele is very similar to Tell Ahmar 1 and 2. It has a 8-line Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription which is a dedication to the gods by king Hamiyata. The stele is in the National Museum in Aleppo.

The find place of the stele Aleppo 2 of Aleppo Museum is unknown. It was seized from smugglers in the late 1930s. The flattened front face has a much damaged Storm God relief. The rounded back side has a 6-line Luwian inscription that extends to the sides of the relief on the front face. The inscription is a dedication by a person named Arpa to his "lord and brother" Hamiyata. The latter is likely to be the ruler known from several Tell Ahmar inscriptions. Thus the Aleppo 2 stele is likely to have originated from Tell Ahmar or its surrounding area.

The gate lions found at the city gate to the northeast of the site are dated to the Assyrian period. Several other orthostats and steles were found at and around the site in secondary locations. Most of these are currently in the Aleppo or Louvre Museums, and the whereabouts of a few others are not clear.


Click on the pictures for larger images.

Şehir planı
Şehir planı - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Şehir planı - T. Bilgin, after Google Earth, 2019
Tell Ahmar 1Borowski 3
Tell Ahmar 1 - Verity Cridland Tell Ahmar 1 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Tell Ahmar 1 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Borowski 3 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Borowski 3 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Borowski 3 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000
Tell Ahmar 2
T. Bilgin, 2007 E. Anıl, 2019 F. Anıl, 2019 F. Anıl, 2019 T. Bilgin, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2007 J. D. Hawkins, 2000
Tell Ahmar 6 Tell Ahmar 5Aleppo 2
Tell Ahmar 6 - Verity Cridland Tell Ahmar 6 - G. Bunnens, 2006 Tell Ahmar 6 - J. D. Hawkins, 2006 Tell Ahmar 5 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Tell Ahmar 5 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Aleppo 2 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000 Aleppo 2 - J. D. Hawkins, 2000
Other orthostats and steles
Louvre - T. Bilgin, 2007 Cur. loc. unknown - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Aleppo - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Louvre - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Aleppo - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Aleppo - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Aleppo - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 Louvre - Museé du Louvre, H. Lewandowski Thureau-Dangin, 1936
Gate lions
Portal lions at the city gate - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 West wing lion at the city gate - Thureau-Dangin, 1936 West wing lion - Guy Bunnens, 1990s(?)



Kings of Masuwari (10th and 9th centuries BCE)
(J. D. Hawkins, 1980, AnSt 30: 139-156)

Hapatila
Ariyahina (grandson of Hapatila)
Father of Hamiyata (name not known, usurper)
Hamiyata
Hamiyata's son (name not known)
Ariyahina's son (name not known)


Literature:
Bunnens, G. Tell Ahmar, 1988 Season, Leuven, 1990.
Bunnens, G., J. D. Hawkins, and Leirens, I. A New Luwian Stele and the Cult of the Storm-God at Til Barsib-Masuwari. Tell Ahmar II. Leuven, 2006.
Hawkins, J. D. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol 1, Berlin, 2000: 224-245 and plts 91-102.
Orthmann, W. Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst, Bonn, 1971.
Thureau-Dangin, F. and M. Dunand. Til-Barsib, Paris, 1936.

Image sources:
François Thureau-Dangin, 1936.
Verity Cridland, 2009
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
Tayfun Bilgin, 2007.
Guy Bunnens, 2006.
Ertuğrul Anıl, 2019.
Figen Anıl, 2019.
Museé du Louvre, RMN/Hergé Lewandowski.