Monday, January 11, 2010

Temple of Hadad in Aleppo

The Global Arab Network has a nice piece on the Temple of Baal-Hadad found within the Aleppo citadel (via Agade):

Syria (Aleppo) The discovery of the temple of the god Hadad in Aleppo Citadel is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the late 20th century, according to an article published by Prof. Paolo Matthiae of Italy.

The god Hadad was mentioned in texts from Mari, Ebla and most other ancient Eastern sites, as old kingdoms uses to make offering to the god of storms in his main temple at the centre of the Amorite kingdom centered in Aleppo.

Head of the excavations department at the Aleppo Department of Archaeology and Museums Yousef Kanjo said the temple was discovered in 1929-1930, and later a Syrian-German expedition began work in the site in 1996, uncovering most of the temple over 12 seasons.

The expedition found out that the temple dates back to the third millennium BC, and is one of the largest temples of that period to be discovered in Syria and the East in general, and there is a strong likelihood that parts of it remain undiscovered.


Member of the Syrian-German expedition Mohammad al-Miftah the temple was renovated at various points during the middle of the third millennium BC (the Bronze Age), when the Hittite influence began to show in the temple, with sculptures and relief carvings replacing polished stone, in addition to the construction of a large statue of Hadad near the eastern wall.

The temple was vandalized after this and was later rebuilt in the 11th century BC, while the 10th century witnessed modifications and additions to the sculptures, with most of the old stones being used for different purposes. At this point, the temple contained a mixture of Assyrian, Hittite and Aramaic cultures.

The temple fell into disuse afterwards, losing its religious significance by the Hellenistic period when a large hole was dug in it and its stone was used to build other structures. However, the statue of Hadad was left intact and the hole was sealed, preserving many of the sculptures from harm and theft until major digs during the Byzantine caused damage to the eastern side of its main entrance.


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