Nine-century-old Harran Palace’s gate unearthed
The main gate of the nine-century-old Harran Palace in an archaeological site in Turkey’s southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, one of the world’s oldest settlements on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, has been unearthed.
The excavation work has been continuing for six years at the site located in the Harran district of Şanlıurfa, Mehmet Önal, the head of the excavation team and head of the Archeology Department at Harran University, told the state-run Anadolu Agency.
Harran, located 44 kilometers southeast of central Şanlıurfa near the Syrian border, was an important Mesopotamian trade center on a road running south to Nineveh in modern Iraq, while the site was constantly inhabited from 6,000 B.C. to the present and had also served as the capital of the Assyrians and Umayyads.
The excavation team had worked hard for two years to reveal the main gate of the historical palace, Önal said. “We completely unearthed one of the two known gates of the historical Harran Palace. The gate, about 7 meters high, is made of basalt stones. Star motifs were also unearthed in our excavations near the ground.”
Önal underlined that the team had also unearthed other inscriptions written in Arabic on a basalt stone, adding that these inscriptions will contribute to trace the exact date of the historic construction.
He also said that the inscriptions and symbols on the stamp seals, rings and arrowheads found in the excavations in the palace were also being analyzed by archaeologists.
Noting that a three-domed bathhouse in the Harran Palace has been discovered during the previous excavations, Onal said the bath with cooling, warming and heating rooms was built in the 12th and 13th century and belonged to the Zengid dynasty and the Ayyubids period.
Stating that palace, which dates back 900 years, has hundreds of rooms, he pointed out that the Harran Palace is one of the rare examples of palaces that have survived since the Middle Ages in the Middle Eastern countries.
Önal said that the year-long extension of the excavation period given by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry well indicated the importance of this historical area.
If the excavations continue throughout the year, more historical artifacts could come to light, he added.
The first excavations in Harran began in 1950, and the site has been on UNESCO’s tentative list since 2000.
Harran is an important ancient city where trade routes from Iskenderun to Antakya (ancient Antioch) and Kargam were located, according to UNESCO’s website.
“The city is mentioned in the Holy Bible,” says the website. “It is important not only for having hosted the early civilizations, but it is the place where the first Islamic university was founded. The traditional civil architecture and mudbrick houses with conic roofs are unique.”