Lion’s jawbone found in Kültepe
This year’s excavations in the ancient site of Kültepe, located in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, have unearthed a lion’s jawbone dating back 4,000 years.
The head of the excavations, Ankara University archeology department lecturer Professor Fikri Kulakoğlu stated that they found many animal bones and big logs in the basement of a large structure in the area in 2021.
Pointing out that Claudia Minniti, a zoo archaeologist from the University of Salento, Italy, and a member of the Kültepe Excavation Committee, conducted scientific studies on these animal bones, Kulakoğlu said, “The jawbone of a lion was found for the first time in Kültepe.”
Stating that mostly ceramic, metal and bone objects were unearthed during the excavations related to the period called Asian Excavations, Kulakoğlu said that the bone finds are extremely important for Kültepe and Anatolia.
“During the excavations this year, we found a group of bones of two lions, bears, mountain sheep, deer and wild pigs in a trench. These bones were found together. All of these animal bones belong to large and wild animals. For the first time, we found two separate jawbones of two different lions, a very large bear, and bones of a large deer in this period in Anatolia,” he said.
“These are the animals that lived in this region; animals that lived around Erciyes or in mountainous areas. There are no lion bones unearthed in other regions dating back 4,000 years. Of course, there are bones from several million years ago. But these are two of the earliest examples from human settlement. We date these bones to 4,000 years ago. These are wild animals, they must have been hunted and brought to Kültepe,” he said.
Kulakoğlu stated that these animal bones found in Kültepe might be related to a myth, and added, “There is a tablet found in Boğazköy, its name is the Anitta tablet. According to this tablet, the king named Anitta captured Nesha with his father, and he did not harm anyone. He even built palaces and temples. These bones were found in the area of these temples and palaces.”
“In the inscription allegedly written by this king, it is written as follows: ‘I hunted and brought more than 100 animals, including two lions, leopards, panthers, bears, deer and wild animals.’ This is the area right next to the temple. Of course, we don’t think for sure that these bones are related to this story, but there is a high probability that they are. Because there are injuries on the animal bones we found, so these were brought by hunting. This must have a historical significance and a relationship with a subject in Kültepe,” he said.