By Randy Boswell,
Canadian archeologists have unearthed an extraordinary human sculpture at a globally significant, 3,000-year-old dig site in Turkey that had al-ready yielded a host of discoveries in recent years for a University of Toronto-led team of researchers.
The latest find – the exquisitely preserved head and torso of a figure that would have stood four metres tall in the historical Neo-Hittite city of Kunulua – exemplifies a monumental sculptural tradition referenced in the Bible, including passages that describe the “graven images” created in the “kingdoms of the idols” north of ancient Israel.
The colossal figure – bearded, wide-eyed and curly-haired – appears to have been ritually buried and covered with stone slabs after the Assyrian con-quest of Kunulua in 738 B.C. The sculpture, the back of which had been inscribed with a hieroglyphic chronology of its people’s military triumphs, is thought to have stood at the gates of a citadel within Kunulua, capital of the Neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina, which lasted about 260 years before its destruction by the Assyrian invaders.
The researchers, headed by University of Toronto arche-ologist Tim Harrison, believe that it may represent “the physical manifestation” of the Old Testament account of the fall of “Calno” and the destruction of its monuments.
The destruction of Calno-Kunulua was invoked by the prophet Isaiah as a warning to the Israelites that they should follow the will of God or face a similar eclipse of their civilization.
Along with the human figure, the Canadian-led dig at present-day Tayinat, located in southeastern Turkey near its border with Syria, also revealed an elaborately carved column base featuring a winged bull and sphinx.
The latest excavation was led by University of Toronto PhD student Darren Joblon-kay. Last year, the same site produced a monumental sculpture of a lion that drew attention around the world. Earlier finds reported in 2009 first led Harrison and his team to link the location, about 35 kilometres east of Antakya (site of the ancient city of Antioch), to Isaiah’s oracle about the Assyrian at-tack on Calno.
The statue of the human figure was unveiled this past weekend at a ceremony at-tended by Turkey’s culture minister.
“It took a couple of weeks to fully excavate and then re-move it from the site – it is about two tonnes in weight – to the nearby regional museum in Antakya,” Harrison said Wednesday in an email from the region.
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