3,000-year-old Ain Dara Temple In Syria Destroyed By Turkish Airstrikes

Recent airstrikes performed by the Turkish military in Syria have destroyed around 60% of the 3,000-year-old temple complex of Ain Dara. “Three thousand years of civilization destroyed in an air strike,” Former antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP, denouncing the vicious attack.

Temple complex of Ain Dara, photographed after being hit by Turkish air strikes (image courtesy the Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums)

Ain Dara is an ancient temple which dates back 3,000 years, located in the Ain Dara village of Syria, 67 km north of Aleppo and 10 km from the ruins of the Basilica of Simeon Stylil the Elder.

The ancient temple boasted intricate carvings and stone sculptures of lions and sphinxes, decorated with intricate geometric symbols, animal pictures, and other decorative elements.

Perhaps best known for the pair of gigantic footprints, the ancient temple of Ain Dara is one of the largest and most extensive ancient excavated structures in Syria.

The massive pair of Footprints at Ain Dara are around four times larger than an ordinary human foot and are believed to represent the passage of a God.

“These are unique in the religious architecture of the region,” says ASOR Iraq and Syria analyst Darren Ashby.

Regrettably, after a series of Turkish airstrikes, the 3,000-year-old temple was severely damaged.

According to reports, experts estimate that around sixty percent of the ancient temple was destroyed.

Shocking images taken after the Turkish airstrikes show the temple’s courtyard, intricately paved with flagstones, reduced to rubble.

“Three thousand years of civilization destroyed in an air strike,” Former antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP, denouncing the vicious attack.

The temple of Ain Dara is yet another ancient site that has paid the toll of war.

The Syrian government has condemned the attacks in what some are calling a deliberate assault by Turkish forces, although this has not been confirmed.

“This attack reflects the hatred and barbarism of the Turkish regime against the Syrian identity and against the past, present, and future of the Syrian people,” the Syrian Regime said in a statement.

The ancient temple was erected more than 3,000 years ago, around 1300 BC, during a time marked by the collapse of Bronze Age Kingdoms across the Eastern Mediterranean.

The temple itself was found in 1955 after researchers stumbled across a massive lion statue by accident. After the discovery of the basalt lion, excavations revealed the site to be home of one of the most impressive ancient temples built by ancient man.

“The temple is an important example of Syro-Hittite religious architecture and the most extensively excavated structure of its kind in Syria.”

The American Schools of Oriental Research’s (ASOR) Cultural Heritage Initiatives collaboration, which has been monitoring the destruction of monuments during the war in Syria has released a statement saying:

“The temple is an important example of Syro-Hittite religious architecture and the most extensively excavated structure of its kind in Syria.”

“The temple is elaborately decorated with a series of basalt orthostats with geometric and representational motifs that line its exterior and interior walls. Additionally, the thresholds of the doorways into the antecella and cella contain a unique decoration that consists of two footprints carved into the exterior threshold and a single footprint on each of the two interior thresholds.”

Reference: ASOR Cultural Heritage Initiatives

Source: Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons / Roj Mousa

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