Ain Dara Hittite Temple
Ain Dara is located in northern Syria, about 49 km (by road) northwest of Aleppo and 7 km south of the town of Afrin, on a mound at the east bank of the Afrin River. The site was first noticed in 1954 upon the discovery of some sculptured works. It was excavated in 1956, 1962 and 1964 by a team under Feisal Seirafi, and in 1976, 1978 and 1980–1988 under ʿAlī Abū ʿAssāf. The site consists of a flat lower city and a high citadel mound at the southwest corner of the city.
The main feature of the site is the temple that stands on the north end of the citadel mound. It covers a rectangular area of 38 by 32 meters with an entrance on its southeast facing side. The temple has a rectangular antecella, a square cella, and a surrounding gallery on three sides. The building was constructed and extended in multiple phases and decorated with numerous statues and orthostats mostly made of dark basalt stone. Due to lack of written sources, dating of the temple has been problematic. Particularly the iconography of the reliefs from the inner rooms of the temple strongly indicate a date in the Hittite Empire period, while the outer reliefs probably date to a later phase, sometime around 1100 BCE. Thus a date between 1300 and 1100 has been suggested for the art work, while the site likely to have had a temple even before these dates. The reliefs from the podium base and some of the other orthostat, stele and sculpture fragments that were not found in situ are in the Aleppo Museum.
A unique feature of the Ain Dara Temple is the carved footprints on the limestone threshold blocks. Each print is roughly one meter long and likely to represent the footprints of the deity. There are no known parallels in the Anatolian or North Syrian art.
During civil war in Syria roughly half of the temple area has been reduced to rubble in January 2018 due to aerial bombing. The colossal lion statue outside the temple is reportedly have been taken away by rebel groups in 2019.
Northeast and northwest facades
West and east wings of the entrance and the footprints
Cella and the reliefs from the podium base (E1–E7)
Reliefs from the gallery
Other sculpture and inscription fragments
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Abū ʿAssāf, A., "Die Kleinefunde aus ʿAin Dārā," Damaszener Mitteilungen 9, 1996: 47–111 and Taf. 15–26.
de Crombrugghe de Looringhe-Sneyers d'Attenhoven, E. "Un huitième relief de ʿAin Dara au Musée d'Alep," FsNaster2 1984: 13–20.
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Novak, M. "The Temple of ʿAin Dāra in the Context of Imperial and Neo-Hittite Architecture and Art," in J. Kamlah (ed) Temple Building and Temple Cult, Wiesbaden, 2012: 41–54 and Taf. 10–12.
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