April 22, 2009

Tayinat Dark Age temple

The website of the Tayinat Archaeological Project, and project background (pdf).

UPDATE (Apr 30): National Geographic reports on "Dark Age" Temple found in Turkey.

University of Toronto archeologists discover temple that sheds light on so-called Dark Age
The discovery of a remarkably well-preserved monumental temple in Turkey — thought to be constructed during the time of King Solomon in the 10th/9th-centuries BC — sheds light on the so-called Dark Age.

Uncovered by the University of Toronto's Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP) in the summer of 2008, the discovery casts doubt upon the traditional view that the transition from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive.

Ancient sources — such as the Homeric epics and the Hebrew Bible — depict an era of widespread famine, ethnic conflict and population movement, most famously including the migrations of the Sea Peoples (or biblical Philistines) and the Israelites. This is thought to have precipitated a prolonged Dark Age marked by cultural decline and ethnic strife during the early centuries of the Iron Age. But recent discoveries — including the Tayinat excavations — have revealed that some ruling dynasties survived the collapse of the great Bronze Age powers.

"Our ongoing excavations have not only begun to uncover extensive remains from this Dark Age, but the emerging archaeological picture suggests that during this period Tayinat was the capital of a powerful kingdom, the 'Land of Palastin'," says Timothy Harrison, professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Toronto and the director of the project. "Intriguingly, the early Iron Age settlement at Tayinat shows evidence of strong cultural connections, if not the direct presence of foreign settlers, from the Aegean world, the traditional homeland of the Sea Peoples."


Onur Dincer said...

What does the Neo-Hittite/Aramean Kingdom of Patina (Unqi) have to do with the Philistines? Are they the same people?

Maju said...

@Onur: we just don't know. It is generally believed that the Philistines were originally one of the "Sea Peoples" (possibly not a single phenomenon but somewhat of a historians' hype on some, diverse, Egyptian accounts). A common belief seems to be that they were original from Crete and might have been Greek speakers (as possibly other but not all Sea Peoples were).


In general: It is notable that this temple is placed at Hatay province, that would be Syria in historical terms, rather than Turkey proper. It's just by ancient Alalakh (800 m., a walk), which was apparently dertoyed by the Sea Peoples, like its metropolis Ugarit.

I have not found any date re. Tayinat that places it before the detruction of Ugarit and Alalakh. It seems to be a new city instead that took the place of Alalakh.

Onur Dincer said...

@Onur: we just don't know.In the homepage of the Tayinat Archaeological Project (TAP), it is stated that Kunulua (Tell Tayinat) was the capital of the Neo-Hittite/Aramean Kingdom of Patina (Unqi). On the other hand, according to both the TAP pdf and the Eurekalert article, Kunulua was the capital of the Kingdom of Palastin (thought to be a variant of the word Philistine), thus a kingdom of the Sea Peoples. Both of them cannot be true at the same time, so either:

1- These kingdoms occupied Kunulua in different periods of the Early Iron Age.

2- One of them never really occupied Kunulua.

3- They are one and the same kingdom, as the ethnic composition of the Early Iron Age northwestern Levant was pretty diverse.

I have not found any date re. Tayinat that places it before the detruction of Ugarit and Alalakh. It seems to be a new city instead that took the place of Alalakh.Actually, I haven't found anything in these discoveries that overturns the currently accepted view of the Dark Age. As you stated, this kingdom (whether it belonged to the Neo Hittites/Arameans or Sea Peoples) was a new kingdom that emerged immediately following the destruction of the major Bronze Age centers of the coastal Levant by the Sea Peoples. It has long been known that the coastal Levant harbored small newly established kingdoms of the Neo-Hittites, Arameans and various Sea Peoples during the Dark Age. So there is nothing revolutionary with this discovery.