Turkey asks for return of ‘Hittite King Maradas’

Turkey asks for return of ‘Hittite King Maradas’

MALATYA – Anadolu Agency
Turkey asks for return of ‘Hittite King Maradas’

AA photo

The Malatya Culture and Tourism Directorate has detected that a relief, depicting the Hittite King Maradas deer hunting on a horse cart and is on display at Louvre Museum in Paris, was removed from the Aslantepe Mound in 1891, which is on UNESCO’s tentative list of World Heritage Sites.

The artifact was also mentioned in a documentary of Malatya, prepared by state-run broadcaster TRT Haber in 1986. Works have been initiated for the return of the artifact to Turkey.

The Aslantepe Mound in Malatya, where the first city-state was established, sheds light on history with its adobe palace, 5,500 year-old temple, swords, and spears.

It is located in the western shore of the Euphrates, seven kilometers away from the city center. For thousands of years, it was one of the settlements for early humans thanks to its high agricultural potential, wetlands, and its unique structure that protects the land from floods.

Findings from the late Chalcolithic era in 5,000 B.C. to the Iron Age have been unearthed in Aslantepe, which is also home to the traces of many civilizations from the Hittite Empire to the Roman Empire.

There are collapsed structures of a lion and king from the Hittite-era at the entrance of the mound, which features the first city-state structures, such as a rainwater drainage system, adobe palace, and more than 2,000 seals. 

Many potteries that have been unearthed in the excavations have similar features as the ones in Mesopotamia. 

The place where bureaucracy was born

The Provincial Culture and Tourism Director Levent İskenderoğlu said Aslantepe Mound dates back to 5,000 B.C., adding that it was home to the first city-state in Anatolia as well as the oldest palace in the world.

The mound was one of the most important archaeological centers in Anatolia said İskenderoğlu.

“The reason why this place is called the first city-state of Anatolia is the seals that have been found here. These seals show that state bureaucracy was born here because each seal belongs to a state official. Nearly 2,200 seals have been unearthed in the excavations so far. It shows us the state used it as a storage. In this sense, we say this is the first city-state in Anatolia and it was where bureaucracy was born,” he said.

İskenderoğlu also said a team of French archaeologists came to Malatya in the 1890s and started excavations in the Aslantepe Mound in 1932.

“The excavations were handed over to an Italian team in 1961 and have still been maintained by Professor Marcella Frangipane of Rome’s La Sapienza University. The Hittite-era artifacts that were uncovered in the 1930s in the mound were delivered to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Most of them are on display at the Malatya Archaeology Museum. Lots of important artifacts have been found so far in the excavations,” he added.

Detected in archive research

İskenderoğlu said during their archive research they discovered the relief of the Hittite King Maradas, which is on display at Louvre, was unearthed in Aslantepe.

“When researching the archives, we saw a documentary filmed by TRT in 1986 to promote Malatya. We found out in this documentary that an artifact was unearthed in 1891 in Malatya and was taken to the Louvre Museum. This artifact was known in the 1980s and became a subject in the documentary but was later forgotten. We asked Malatya Governor Ali Kaban to work on it and we made a serious file related to the issue. The file was delivered to the Culture and Tourism Ministry. I hope this artifact will return to its homeland,” he said.

“It [the relief] dates back to the late Hittite era. There are Luvian writings on it. It depicts the Hittite King Maradas hunting deer on a horse cart. It is an interesting relief. It is reported in the TRT documentary that Aslantepe became known world-wide thanks to this relief. We also have one more relief here, which dates back to 1984 and is almost the same as this one. There is a lion instead of a deer in this relief, which is displayed at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. As a consequence, the deer hunting scene relief also belongs to this region. Many artifacts have been returned to Turkey in recent years; some are still waiting to be returned. I hope we will get this relief again,” said İskenderoğlu.