Biblical Connections at Tell Ta‘yinnat, Turkey -- By: Brian Janeway

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 19:3 (Summer 2006)
Article: Biblical Connections at Tell Ta‘yinnat, Turkey
Author: Brian Janeway

Biblical Connections at Tell Ta‘yinnat, Turkey

Brian Janeway

Tell Ta‘yinat is located in southern Turkey, in a region where the southern border dips down to take in a fertile region known as the Amuq Valley east of the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. A major city in this area in New Testament times was Antioch, where followers of Jesus were first called Christians (Acts 11:26). Tell Ta‘yinat is located 12 mi (20 km) northeast of Antioch, modern Antakya, some 28mi (45 km) from the Mediterranean coast. It lies on the banks of the Orontes River near what was once an ancient lake that existed as late as the 1930s before being drained. The site is comprised of an upper and lower mound, with occupation in the third millennium and the Iron Age (ca. 1200–500 BC) when it reached its largest size of ca. 86 acres (35 hectares).

Site plan: dark shaded areas are where the University of Chicago excavated in the 1930s and the light shaded areas are where the University of Toronto is presently excavating (Fields 1, 2 and 3). The Megaron Temple and bit hilani Palace described in the article are located in Field 1, while the Eastern Citadel Gate is east of Field 1 at the edge of the tell.

Excavations at Tell Ta‘yinat

The University of Chicago conducted large-scale excavations on the mound for four seasons, 1935–1938. Results were fairly spectacular, including monumental buildings in the bit hilani1 style, a temple similar in ground plant ot he Solomonic Temple, gateways, an Assyrian governor’s residence, Luwian2 hieroglyphic inscriptions, and numerous stone sculptures and orthostats. In sum, all the cultural and architectural elements of a Neo-Hittite3 city of considerable importance were present. In 2004, excavations were resumed under the direction of Timothy Harrison of the University of Toronto.

It is my goal to report on the ongoing excavations of Tell Ta‘yinat for two reasons. First, the Aramean Neo-Hittite kingdoms that resulted from the breakup of the Hittite Empire in ca. 1200 BC were very important to the history of the Levant and influential in Israel and Judah, particularly in terms of their architectural styles and motifs. An example of this is the two tenth-century palaces founding Megiddo (Building 6000 and 1723), both of which contain bit hilani ground plans (Barkay 1992: 310). The rise of Neo-Hittite states in the north took place during the same period that Iron

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