At the Mound of Arslantepe in Malatya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site ( Lion Mound )

The great desire for travelling and for strolling around in nature and history is growing every day in times of pandemic that we are now going through since more than one and a half year .

But since people are now going to be vaccinated I felt comfortable to do my first trial to travel within a small group with friends to some destinations that I have never been before .

Our destination was the south eastern part of Turkey and covered the route from Gaziantep toKahramanmaras , Malatya ,Battalgazi, Tunceli , Kemaliye , Arapgir and back to Gaziantep .

This time it was a different feeling of excitement as we did not know whether we can manage all this tour well in pandemic times and whether we would face any difficulties or risks .

On the first day we arrive in Gaziantep which is an ancient city in the southeast and famous for its gorgeous gourmet cuisine -katmer and baklava with pistacchio , lots of different kebaps , any kind of dried fruit , pistacchios, nuts and so much more .As Gaziantep is a very old settlement located on the silk road the cuisine is very rich in this region.

It is famous with its old castle , its ancient streets , shops and cafes , its ancient inns and its covered historic bazar where you can buy all these ingredients and type of food.

But we just pass by Gaziantep and take our route to the city of Malatya where we are going to visit Malatya Aslantepe Mound as it is just announced a Unesco World Heritage in this July 2021 .

The route from Gaziantep to Malatya is about 220 km and takes about 3 hours drive and we pass by huge pistacchio plantations,tobacco fields and fruit gardens that consist of apple , almond , mulberry, apricot trees etc.

On our way long there are many shops selling baklava with pistacchio and ice cream which is so good as it is really hot – we have 41 degrees celsius !

Certainly we also take an ice cream and Turkish tea break on our drive .

In the late afternoon we arrive at Malatya Arslantepe Mound which means “Lion Mound” and which is located on the Malatya plain and is about 12 km close to the Euphrates River which was and is one of the biggest water sources in this area .

The total length of the famous river is about 2800 km and it is the longest river of Southwest Asia . It is flowing via Turkey , Syria and the Iraq .The length of the river in Turkey only is about 1260 km and it is cut by 5 dams to make use of it for watering the huge farming fields and to generate electricity .

In ancient times ,being part of the Mesopotamia , as well as today the Euphrates River has a very high strategic importance for the whole region .

As always I feel excited to get to know new locations , new cultural zones, new people and especially to enter new ancient sites and to get to know more insight into historical events that took place here.

We just arrive at the museum and there is already a lionhead as a symbol of the museum entrance which serves as a fountain .

A few steps further there is also the liongate which is very similar to the gates of the ancient Hittite Empire gates in Corum .

The figure of the lion is the symbol for power and strength as the lion is the most powerful animal on earth while eagles for instance are the most powerful animals in the sky .

The museum itself is quite modest and the scale of the excarvations is not that big but very important .

It is proofed that people were living at Arslantepe Mound from 6000 BC till the late Roman times .

Malatya Aslantepe is a settlement that is important for mankind as it is the earliest settlement so far that gives hints to the earliest state-like and sophisticated bureaucratic systems .Especially very early stages of stamps were found in the site which were used at storages of food for instance .

Just 10% of the whole mound is excarved by Italian and Turkish archeologist teams during the past 50 years but what they have found is an important discovery for mankind .

There are about 7 layers of soil which tell about the different periods that were lived in this location such as the Assyrians , early and late Hittites , late Romans and Byzanthines civilizations .

The sun dried brick palace and the temples are probably one of the oldest ones on earth .

The oldest version of swords which gave their owners a big strategic power were also found here in Arslantepe .

In Aslantepe you can also find very old red and black coloured inscriptions on the walls that are hidden behind curtains in order to protect the findings from outer affects .

An officer of the museum is so friendly to push the curtains aside and to open up the space for us so that we are able to see these red and black ancient inscriptions which look so mysterious .

How great it would be to find out what these inscriptions are telling us out of the ancient times that they are coming from .

Findings from the excarvations throughout the decades can be also seen such as the sculptures and stone rolifs of the Hittite kings and gods which are located in the front of the museum .

I do love especially the ancient hittite sites as the Hittites are technically such an advanced and organized civiliziation and their sites have such a gorgeous energy ( see my blogs on the capital city of the hittite On the traces of the Hittite Empire , Corum and Alacahöyük- Turkey ( Anatolia ) -1- and A snow-white day in Hattusa , Capital of the ancient Hittite Empire ( Anatolia ) -2-).

The same feeling I do have here when I see the lion gate and the Hittite findings of Malatya Arslantepe .

They are just awesome and so beautiful -whitnesses of periods and civilizations from such a long time ago !

When we are leaving the mound of Aslantepe I have the same feeling that I had in Corum – a great admiration for these values of mankind history and a great respect to the people working in these sites , sometimes for a lifetime .

Due to the pandemic the excarvations of the teams slowed down during the past 2 years but probably next year the teams will speed up their work on their site again .

Who knows what secrets they will reveil and what is all under this soil that is waiting to be discovered .

I really get some goose bumps .

The weather is nice , there are gardens with fruit trees around and it is not difficult to imagine how the surrounding was looking like in those old days .

We just leave the site in the very late afternoon when the sun prepares to set down with happiness in our souls as we have seen another valuable world heritage site and got some insight into world history .

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