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Canadian-Funded Archeologists Unearth Iron Age Statues
August 1, 2012
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Look at that face. This statue, carved around the year 1000 B.C., was unearthed during an archeological dig in Turkey called the Tayinat Archeological Project (TAP). Along with the human figure, the team dug up the base of a column that was once part of a gate leading into the capital of the Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina (the headband isn't part of the statue, by the way - it's just there to keep him upright).

Tim Harrison, a professor of near eastern archeology at the University of Toronto and the director of TAP, says the two pieces "provide a vivid glimpse into the innovative character and sophistication of the Iron Age cultures that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean following the collapse of the great imperial powers of the Bronze Age at the end of the second millennium BC".

Life during the Iron Age probably involved a great deal of hard labour for average people, with men, women and children working the fields to get enough food to eat. Sculptors capable of producing statues like these were rare - according to website The Tollund Man, "very few people were actual artisans".

The human statue appears to depict King Suppiluliuma, whose military accomplishments are carved in hieroglyphics on the statue's back, while the column base features a sphinx and a lion:

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Apparently burying statues of rulers at gateways was a common ritual at the time, emphasizing the king's role as the divinely appointed guardian or gatekeeper of the community. The sculpture's eyes are well-preserved because they're made of white and black stone.

TAP is an international project involving researchers from a dozen countries and more than 20 universities and research institutes. This year's archeological work was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the University of Toronto, as well as the U.S.-based J.M. Kaplan Fund.

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