Karatepe Archaeological Site


Location: 23 km from Kadirli, Osmaniye Province, Karatepe-Arslantaş National Park Map


Karatepe-Arslantaş is a Neo-Hittite ruin site in Kadirli County, Osmaniye Province, southern Turkey. Azatiwada, who lived in the late 8th to 7th centuries BC. BC, who ruled over a small late Luwian kingdom, founded the hill fortress with his palace on what was then an important long-distance trade route. It was located on the Ceyhan River, the ancient Pyramos, in the south of the Taurus Mountains. Since no buildings of subsequent rulers were excavated, the site was probably abandoned soon after Azatiwada's death.

The fortress is surrounded by a wall about a kilometer long, part of which has disappeared into the waters of the Arslantaş Reservoir. The foundations of some buildings remain from the fortress, including one of the Bît Hilâni type. The place is primarily known for the two monumental gates with remarkable reliefs found there, which Helmuth Theodor Bossert discovered in 1946 and which are still being researched and restored today (2012) under the direction of Halet Çambel (1916–2014). They show scenes from courtly life as well as mythological and cultic images. They are largely provided with bilingual texts in Luwian hieroglyphics and in Phoenician script, which Bossert recognized as Bilingue, which contributed significantly to the decipherment of the script then called Hieroglyphic Hittite. A Phoenician version of the inscription also partially covers the larger-than-life statue of the weather god.

Since 2020, Karatepe-Arslantaş has been listed on the tentative list for recognition as a world heritage site.



The Palace of Azatiwada is located on the limestone hill Ayrıca Tepesi about 224 m above sea level in the foothills of the Cilician Middle Taurus, about 135 km northeast of Adana. The Karatepe mountain range begins south of it. West of the castle hill and the Ceyhan River ran along the Akyol caravan road, which connected plain Cilicia with the Anatolian highlands. It corresponds to part of the ancient road network that ran from Karatepe in the north through the Taurus to Central Anatolia and in the south over the Amanos to Samʼal (today Zincirli). Today's Arslantaş Reservoir flooded the riverbed and parts of the fortress walls. On the opposite bank of the Ceyhan lies another fortified hill, Domuztepe. Some of the basalt that was used for the reliefs at Karatepe-Arslantaş probably came from there. Bahadır Alkım found traces of mining there during his excavations.



Later Cilicia, which roughly corresponded to the Hittite Kizzuwatna, consisted of the kingdoms of Qu'e and Hilakku at the beginning of the first millennium BC. Qu'e roughly corresponded to Kilikia Pedias, the plain Cilicia, and Hilakku, which later gave its name to the whole of Cilicia, corresponded to Kilikia Tracheia, the rough Cilicia. Qu'e also included the region of today's Adana, where the Danunaeans, who gave the city its name, lived. Between 738 and 732 BC King Awariku reigned in Qu'e in the 4th century BC. He was the Assyrian ruler Tiglath-Pileser III. tributary, in whose tribute lists he appears under the name Urikki. Awariku's governor was Azatiwada, who resided in Karatepe. It can therefore be assumed that he was appointed during the reign of Awariku and built the fortress. Since he describes in the inscription that he enthroned Awariku's descendants in Adana, a date after Awariku's death (after 709 BC) must be assumed for the creation of the inscription.

Some researchers equate Azatiwada with Sanduarri, the king of Kundi (probably Anazarbos) and Sissu (Kozan), both north of the plain of Adana. Sanduarri allied in the 7th century BC. BC with the Phoenician city of Sidon against Assyria, but was captured and beheaded by Esarhaddon. This equation would fit with the Luwian immigration to Cilicia towards the end of Assyrian rule described by Albrecht Götze, as well as the presence of the Phoenicians in the area. However, while Goetze and others place an earlier date in the 9th century in the time of Shalmaneser III. According to a stylistic analysis, the American archaeologist Irene J. Winter assigns the reliefs to a later period, but does not rule out the 9th century for the construction of the fortification. The end of the castle, possibly its destruction as part of Esarhaddon's campaigns to Hilakku (Cilicia), is generally assumed to have occurred in the 7th century. No traces of subsequent buildings have been found; some walls in the northwest area of the fortress that date much later date from the Byzantine period.

More recent research dates Azatiwada to after 727 BC. However, they date back to around 750 BC.


Research history

Karatepe was discovered in 1946 by the German archaeologist Helmuth Theodor Bossert after the local teacher Ekrem Kuşcu, among others, provided information about a lion stone. On behalf of Istanbul University, he explored the site together with Halet Çambel and Bahadır Alkım, who worked for the Turkish Historical Society. The gates were uncovered and the Bilingue of Karatepe was found, a bilingual inscription in Phoenician and hieroglyphic Luwian. Since the Phoenician part was readable, this find made a significant contribution to the decipherment of what was then known as Hieroglyphic Hittite. In the years up to the early 1950s, Alkım also dug at Domuztepe and explored the road network leading from Karatepe-Arslantaş over the Taurus to Central Anatolia and over the Amanos Mountains to Samʼal (today Zincirli). From 1952 onwards, the excavation work was under the direction of Halet Çambel, while Bossert searched for the Asitawata capital called Pahri in Mopsuestia, today's Yakapınar. By 1957, restoration work was carried out on the gates and further excavations were carried out in some areas of the fortification under the direction of Bahadır Alkım. In the late 1950s, the gates were protected by roofs, and in 1958 the Karatepe-Aslantaş National Park was founded. In the 1980s, rescue excavations on Domuztepe were necessary due to the construction of the Arslantaş Dam, which were carried out by Mehmet Özdoğan in 1983/84. While the restoration work on the gates continued, work on the fortress architecture resumed in 1997 under the direction of Martina Sicker-Akman from the German Archaeological Institute of Istanbul in collaboration with Halet Çambel.

In 1962, Paolo Matthiae, then an employee of the Italian excavation at Arslantepe, visited Karatepe in the absence of the excavation team, took photographs and published the unauthorized work Studi sui Rilievi di Karatepe at his university. After sharp protests from various institutions, the university withdrew the publication. A strict ban on photography was then imposed on the site. For the publication about the images of Karatepe, which Halet Çambel and Aslı Özyar published in 2003, the reliefs were rephotographed by Dieter Johannes, the photographer at the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul at the time, and the ban on photography was then lifted.

The site is now an open-air museum affiliated with the Adana Archaeological Museum and was managed by Halet Çambel until her death in 2014.



A two-part ring of walls surrounds the castle hill on which the palace stood, with the western and eastern parts of the system not being connected to each other. The diameter of the fortification is around 375 meters in the north-south direction and 195 meters in the west-east direction, and the circumference is around one kilometer. The walls are on average about four meters thick and had 28 towers and five gate towers. Parts of the outer fortifications in the east are now flooded by the reservoir. The construction of the walls on the grown, jagged rock sometimes required lining cracks in the rock or removing sections of rock. There was a risk of the masonry being washed out by runoff rainwater, particularly in the steep eastern part of the complex facing the river. Therefore, a complex drainage system was set up throughout the fortress area, with channels running under walls and buildings. A rampart on the steep eastern side of the mountain protected access to the river, ensuring a water supply. Access is through two monumental gates in the north and south. The remains of the wall northwest and southeast of the upper, southern gate are interpreted as barracks or a depot. An adjoining room in the immediate vicinity of the south gate is equipped with rock works such as cups and bowl rocks. This and the proximity to the statue of the weather god may suggest that the room had a cultic function. Further north lie the remains of a building generally interpreted as a palace. In the northernmost area of the walled area is another building complex whose function is unknown.



The building complex, known as the palace, is located at the highest point of the hill and measures 45 meters from west to east and 65 meters from north to south. Only remnants of the foundation walls have been preserved, reaching 40 centimeters above the natural rock. A number of rooms are grouped in an irregular arrangement around a courtyard measuring 22 × 30 meters. To the north of the courtyard is a room open to the south, the entrance opening of which is flanked by two basalt blocks. Bahadır Alkım sees them as column bases and thus recognizes in the arrangement of the northern building elements the floor plan of a Bît Hilâni, a building type common throughout the Middle East and Asia Minor, which consists of several small rooms grouped around an open, wide entrance, which is from Columns are framed.

Due to partial overbuilding and slight deviations in orientation, it can be seen that the complex was built in at least four construction phases. From the first phase, only a staircase and a few remains of walls west of the palace building remain. It is carved into the rock and is built over by younger walls in the east. A later channel from phase 2 is cut into the stairs as a gutter.

The second construction phase includes the rooms that form the Bît Hilâni in the north. To the right and left of the 12.5 meter wide vestibule, which is framed by columns, are two square structures, possibly towers. Behind it is the main room of the same width and 7.5 meters deep, next to it in the east is an elongated room and in the west there is a group of four rooms next to each other and three in front of them. From the center of the Hilânis, the structure is drained via canals to the east out of the building and to the west through the other rooms. The channels are below floor level and measure 20 to 30 centimeters wide and are bordered by 10 to 30 centimeter high curbs.

In phase 3, the Bît Hilâni was rebuilt, with the existing walls being partially built over. The main room was expanded to include the parts adjacent to the sides. The basalt bases in the anteroom were probably only created in this phase; basalt bases were also found in the western room connecting to the main room. Two wings were added to the south and a wall to the east, making the courtyard the central element. This southern part connects to the Hilâni in the north through a long room and several small ones in the west, with the orientation being slightly offset from one another. The Phase 2 canals are partially disturbed by the new walls, indicating that they were no longer used during this period. New channels lead outwards through the south-western premises and continue under a paved path. Remains of the paving of the courtyard have been preserved in some places.

In phase 4, the Hilâni was expanded again across its entire width to the north, with layers of collapsed masonry being built over. There are clearly different wall techniques here. While the walls up to phase 3 were built in small pieces, phase 4 used larger, polygonal masonry.

Some remains of walls in the northwestern area, which were built over the existing ones without taking existing level differences of up to one meter into account, indicate construction activity in a much later, possibly Byzantine period. Near Kumkale, upstream, is a Byzantine base, which probably also explains the isolated Byzantine shards already found by Alkım.

Marina Sicker-Akman, who has been studying the architecture on Karatepe since the 1990s, summarizes that the buildings reflect the Hittite building tradition with the element of the Bît Hilâni and the courtyard, as well as North Syrian, Aramaic influences. The wooden columns suspected by Alkım could indicate contact with the Cretan culture.


Gate systems

Access to the castle was provided by two gates in the north-east and south-west of the surrounding wall, referred to for simplicity as the north gate and south gate. Ramps led to these and followed the natural course of the terrain. The gates were protected by towers in front or flanking them that were integrated into the castle wall. The ramps initially led into a covered forecourt, to which a gate made of two wooden wings connected to the inside. The thresholds and door hinge stones on both sides are still preserved. Behind it there were chambers on the right and left. The walls were made of quarry stones with clay mortar in the base area and unfired clay bricks above, although only small remains of the latter remain. Inside they were equipped with orthostats that bore reliefs and inscriptions. They stand on basalt bases, most of which are also labeled. Wooden beams were embedded between the bases and orthostats and above them, towards the rising quarry stone masonry. The inscriptions in Luwian and Phoenician script and language, some of which cover entire orthostats, but can also be found on plinths, reliefs and the gate lions, form the Bilingue of Karatepe. Behind the south gate was a sacred precinct containing the statue of the weather god, now placed behind the gate to the left. The statue also bears a version of the Phoenician part of the bilingual.

The reliefs, including the portal lions and sphinxes, are named after Çambel with a combination of two uppercase and one lowercase letters and a number. The first capital letter 'S' or 'N' stands for south or north gate, the second 'V' or 'K' for atrium or chamber, and the third, small letter 'r' or 'l' for right or left. The numbers follow a continuous numbering from the outside of the gates to the inside. The inscriptions are named Ho and Pho for hieroglyphics and Phoenician respectively at the upper south gate or, correspondingly, Hu and Phu at the lower north gate.

Some of the images are unfinished. The scenes were first carved into the stone, then the stone was removed with probably iron chisels. Differences in technique and style indicate that at least two different stonemasons worked on the depictions. The height of the orthostats, as far as they are completely preserved, is between 1.41 and 1.10 meters, the width ranges from 1.77 meters in the portal lion NVr 1 to less than 20 centimeters in the imageless binder stones.


North Gate

Right atrium

The sculptures in the forecourt of the north gate begin on the right with a portal lion NVr 1. It consists of four fragments, the head of which was found 100 meters away in the forest. The front legs and head are plastic, the body is in relief. Parts of the Luwian inscription Hu 8 are attached to the back and to an inserted wedge stone that served as a support for the rising masonry. NVr 2 is an image of the original Egyptian god Bes. He wears a seven-part feather crown, his face and body are riddled with deep wrinkles. He has a stylized mustache and goatee that hangs down his chest. Below the body you can see a phallus and behind it a hanging tail. Two monkeys sit on his shoulders, raising their hands to their mouths. The figure's head is considerably too large in relation to the body, but this fits with Bes' typical dwarfish depiction. The frontal, highly symmetrical view and the large eyes with a penetrating look that are characteristic of Bes depictions may indicate a deterrent or protective function. Both the location directly behind the portal lion and that of another be behind the portal sphinx to the right chamber fit this. The following, narrow orthostat NVr 3 carries section Hu 9 of the text, which extends in small parts to the adjacent images on the right and left.

On NVr 4 there is an image of an archer, probably a hunter or hunting god, with a bear. The man standing on the left, facing right, holds a bow in his left hand, three arrows in his right, and a quiver is visible over his shoulder. The clothing with a high hat, wrap skirt and short-sleeved shirt also appears on some other people. In front of him stands an upright bear with its paws outstretched. The human figure is about twice as tall as the animal, which probably indicates superiority. The next picture stone NVr 5 is divided horizontally in a ratio of approximately 1:3. The upper, smaller part shows two birds of prey, probably vultures, leaning over a goat-like dead animal that is stretched out on all fours. In the middle of the lower field you can see a person fighting with two lions. They stand upright on either side and hit one of their front paws into his shoulders, while he holds their other paw with both hands. This motif of the hero fighting with lions has been known from Mesopotamian depictions since the 4th millennium. The scene of the two vultures with a goat in the middle appears, among other things, on seals from Tell Zubeidi in Iraq and on a golden cup from Marlik in Iran.

After a narrow stone without an image (NVr 6), which only serves as an intermediate piece, there is another lion hunting scene on NVr 7, whereby the fighter this time, recognizable by the size that fills the plate, is a god who cannot be precisely identified. He stands on the left, wearing a round cap, short-sleeved shirt and wrap-around skirt with a belt. In his right hand he holds a spear with which he aims at the lion standing upright in front of him, which is only half his size. Above the lion and in front of the spearman's face is depicted, without any apparent connection, a bird of prey, probably a hawk, which has struck a hare. The plumage on the chest and raised wings is clearly visible.

The next orthostat with the number NVr 8 shows a goddess breastfeeding a boy standing next to a palm tree. She stands on the right in a chiton-like robe and offers her breast to the smaller boy. He stands on the left, slightly higher than his mother, and has his head tilted back to drink. Both have one arm around the other. On the left edge of the picture there is a palm tree with a cross-hatched trunk and hanging date panicles, leaning slightly to the right. As with the bird in NVr 7, it cannot be decided whether it has a meaning, for example as a symbol of fertility, or whether it merely serves to provide the visual balance of the representation. One can only speculate about the identity of the characters. It seems certain that the large figure represents a goddess; the boy could also be a god or the ruler. The protective embrace of a god is known from Hittite depictions on seals or from Yazılıkaya (Tudhalija IV and Šarruma), the motif of the breastfeeding goddess may have its origins in Egypt, where it appears frequently and from where it came to Cilicia via Phoenician craftsmen could be. Halet Çambel suggests another possible interpretation as the Hurrian-Hittite-Luwian mother-son pair Ḫebat and Šarruma.

A winged, bird-headed guardian spirit (genius) is depicted on the adjacent stone NVr 9. His hands are raised and bear a winged sun. The head is that of a bird of prey with a curved beak, the human body is dressed similarly to the male figures. Of the two pairs of wings that grow from his sides, he holds one up and one down. Similar winged hybrid creatures can be found on Tell Halaf. The winged sun is known from Hittite depictions as an attribute of a god, for example from Eflatun Pınar, or as a ruler's symbol from the royal cartouches in Yazılıkaya. On the left between the wings there are hieroglyphs carved that belong to the inscription Hu 11 on the neighboring orthostat NVr 10, which is only 21 centimeters wide. The relief NVr 11 shows a god striding to the left, carrying a goat over his shoulders. He holds the animal's front and hind legs with both hands and also holds a mace in his right hand. A short sword is attached to a strap hanging from the shoulder. He wears the usual men's clothing including a round cap with folded-up ear protection. What is striking is his short boots, where details of the tongue, shaft and laces can be seen. The mace, comparable examples of which were found in Zincirli, but also on Samos, as well as the suspension of the sword, which was unusual in the late Hittite area, indicate Cilicia's connections to the Western world. The interpretation of this figure is unclear; comparable depictions can be found numerous, for example in Karkemiš in a procession of sacrifice bearers, but also as individuals in association with gods and hybrid creatures, although their function is not clear. Here too, parts of the Hu 11 inscription can be seen on both sides of the body. NVr 12 is an unfinished piece that was probably broken during processing and was abandoned. It is inserted upside down as a truss between NVr 11 and the offset sphinx NVr 13. It shows a figure with caprids and birds, which also takes up the entire height of the relief.

The portal sphinx NVr 13 is offset by one stone thickness. The human head, which was broken off and found lying next to it, is fully sculptural, the lion's body is in half relief. The white lime eyes are inserted and attached with lead, the pupils are missing. She is dressed with a cape over her shoulders that has a herringbone pattern and ends with a triple hem at the bottom. A particularly decorated trimming of the cape can be seen on the shoulders. Two pairs of wings grow behind it, only one of which can be seen at a time. She strides to the right, her tail held high ending in a snake's head. The body, hind legs and the background of the depiction bear the Luwian inscription Hu 11.


Atrium on the left

Since the composition of the reliefs on the left side is interrupted by the inscription block Phu A III-I on the orthostats NVl 3-5, some images were divided horizontally here in order to accommodate seven images on five stones. After one of them (NVl 11) broke, the image NVl 0 was placed outside the row, to the left of the portal lion, as a replacement. Presumably as an introduction to the following series, it was also divided horizontally into two zones, although with almost identical illustrations. NVl 0 was not found in situ, but could be located and reinstalled at the current location due to the precisely fitting connection. In both pictures it shows two warriors with caterpillar helmets on their heads and lances and shields in their hands. Between the two, in the upper zone, you can see a slightly smaller person with spread-eagled arms and a pointed helmet, who both are thrusting at with their lances. In the lower zone you can see a rabbit in the same place and a palmette above it. The latter may only have the function of filling the empty space. Çambel suggests two possible interpretations: either the two antithetic (opposite) warriors represent local soldiers, recognizable by their caterpillar helmet, who are beating an enemy, perhaps Assyrian (pointed helmet), who is compared to a hare, or the middle warrior is trying to to settle a dispute between the two external ones.

The actual series of reliefs begins with the portal lion NVl 1. It forms the counterpart to NVr 1, but was originally planned to be larger, which can be seen from the double back-tail line. It bears the Phoenician inscription Phu A IV on the body and base. Numerous gate lions are known in Anatolia, at least since the 18th century BC. BC through a find from Kaneš. The orthostat NVl 2 is divided horizontally into two halves by a palmette band. On the left side an arch-shaped piece is cut out, corresponding to the original tail line of the reduced portal lion. In the picture above you can see a rider between two servants. He sits sideways on a frame that resembles a pack saddle, holding on to a towering support with one hand while his feet rest on a board. The groom on the right leads the horse on a sling, the one on the left drives him by hand. Above the horse, a palmetto tree again fills the empty space. By comparing the saddle construction with Assyrian depictions, Çambel sees the rider as the ruler. In the picture below, a lion is defeated by two warriors. The fighter on the left fends off the animal, which is standing in the middle and facing left, with one hand and plunges the short sword into its body with the other. The second warrior comes from the right on horseback and attacks the lion from behind with a lance.

The three following stone blocks NVl 3 to NVl 6, of which NVl 5 is a connecting piece that is only 24 centimeters wide, bear the inscription parts Phu A III to Phu A I, with some omitted letters on the adjacent NVl 2 in the upper right corner above the head of the Knechts have been added. NVl 7 is again bisected, this time only by a horizontal line. In the upper area, two women standing opposite each other hold a ring with one hand, while between them a smaller woman beats a frame drum. All three wear calf-length wrap skirts and hoods that enclose their full head of hair at the neck area. Two musicians are shown below, a lyre player on the left, an aulet on the right, two dancers in between, the one on the left jumping with his legs bent, and a smaller one on the right. The frame drum, lyre and aulos are among the oldest known musical instruments of the Ancient Near East. The lyre, here a type of round-bottomed lyre with a flattened sound box at the bottom, was, according to both pictorial and written evidence, the most commonly played instrument among the Hittites. It has also been proven many times in late Hittite reliefs. An aulos was already found in Ur by Leonard Woolley; in the late Hittite period it is known, for example from Karkemiš, as well as from Assyria. For the first time, a mouth bandage, called a phorbeia, appears here, a leather strap that was held in place by one or two straps running around the head and was probably intended, among other things, to prevent the cheek muscles from relaxing. The frame drum had been in use in Mesopotamia at least since the end of the 3rd millennium BC. In use. Various membranophones are documented in writing for Anatolia from the Hittite period; pictorial representations only exist from the late Hittite phase. The two scenes are interpreted as belonging to an event, probably a ritual festival with music and dance, according to Çambel possibly connected to a competition between lyre and aulo players, comparable to the Greek agon. The ring that the top two women are holding would then be a kind of victor's wreath.

On the following relief NVl 8 you can see a warrior looking to the left, the size of a god, holding a lance resting on the ground in his right hand and a club in his left. In front of his upper body he carries a short sword on a strap, comparable to the reliefs NVr 11, NVr 12, NVl 2 and NKl 6. The clothing consists of a conical cap with raised ear flaps, a short-sleeved shirt and a short wrap-around skirt, the diamond-shaped pattern of which resembles that of the Genius of NVr 9 is similar. In the 2nd millennium B.C. In the 4th century BC, numerous Hittite rulers are depicted with a short wraparound skirt and similar weapons, for example in Hanyeri, Hemite, Karabel, and also Šuppiluliuma II in Chamber II in Ḫattuša. However, since rulers in the first millennium always portrayed themselves in long robes, Çambel concludes that this represents a deceased, deified ruler. This relief is followed by a 23 centimeter narrow piece of binder.

The number NVl 10 is followed by a relief divided into two or even three parts without any separating markings. Above a band of lotus flowers and buds, two bulls can be seen facing each other with bowed heads. In between, a triangle probably represents a mountain. The top scene, which takes up about half the height, shows a deer hunt. Deer and man move to the right, the hunter has a drawn bow in his left hand, his right hand reaches back to draw an arrow from the quiver. The deer already has an arrow stuck in its back and turns to look at the hunter. He has high antlers. Deer hunting, like lion hunting, is a common motif in Anatolia; examples come from Alaca Höyük, Zincirli, Karkemiš and Tell Halaf, among others. According to Çambel, the antithetic bulls emphasize the cultic nature of deer hunting. The lotus band, an image of Egyptian origin, was adopted as an ornamental form by the Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians and Greeks.

The end of the left row of the atrium is the Sphinx NVl 12. The head was found lying in front of it. It corresponds to the opposite NVr 13, but is of poorer quality. The edges are not rounded, the pattern of the cape and wings is coarser. Behind it is the relief NVl 11 as a runner, the broken original to NVl 0.

Between the two sphinxes, a four-meter-long threshold runs across the width of the forecourt, followed by a four-meter-long and equally wide corridor. The two gate chambers adjoin this on the right and left, again via a threshold.


Right gate chamber

The two chambers are each flanked by a sphinx and a lion. However, the portal sphinxes NKr 1 and NKl 1 are not semi-plastic like NVl 12 and NVr 13, but are designed as bas relief. This sphinx also has a hatched cape over its shoulders, which hangs down between its front legs as an apron. The two pairs of wings are also hatched. In front of her stands a palmetto tree with two volutes at the top of the trunk. This is followed by another Bes representation as NKr 2. The figure depicted with crouched legs holds a snake in both hands and wears a five-part crown. The two monkeys sitting on the shoulders in NVr 2 have a separate upper section of the image, with a tree between them. They bring a hand to their mouth and appear to be nibbling on something. The arrangement of the Be directly after the portal animal also indicates a guardian function. The relief, which was found highly fragmented, was composed of several parts. On the two-part picture stone NKr 3, three birds of prey can be seen in profile in different postures, two facing right, one facing left. Below there are four male figures. The one on the right turns to the left, everyone else looks in his direction. The second and fourth from the left wear a wrap skirt, the other two wear shirts that reach to their knees. So two of the men are probably locals, the one on the right is perhaps the ruler, the other two are strangers who are welcomed here. Çambel suggests the possibility that this refers to a historical event, perhaps the conclusion of the pact between Sanduarri and the Phoenician princes. The meaning of the birds is unclear; a bird show could be implied in connection with the conclusion of the contract.

NKr 4 is a 21 centimeter narrow binder without an image, NKr 5 bears the section Hu 5a of the hieroglyphic inscription. On NKr 6 the motif of the lion conquerors appears again. Two antithetic fighters fight with a lion standing upright in the middle. Among them are two smaller lions and a goat. One is attacking the goat from the left, the second has already jumped on its back. There is no separation between the upper and lower image content. This is followed by the inscription stone NKr 7 with Hu 5b and the corner of the chamber with the binder NKr 8.

The back row of the chamber now begins from the right with two warriors facing each other on NKR 9. Both are equipped with caterpillar helmets and shields and have a short spear in their hand. The next relief NKr 10 shows two upright caprids standing opposite each other on a stylized tree. Volute-like growths can be seen on the trunk of the plant, and leaves or buds can be seen at the upper end. Since the animal on the left has a penis in contrast to the one on the right, it appears to be a buck and a goat. The motif of antithetic goats on a plant is also known both from Mesopotamia, for example from the Golden Lyre from Ur, and in the first millennium BC from late Hittite evidence such as in Zincirli and Tell Halaf.

The following three scenes NKr 11 to NKr 13 must be seen in context. In the right, placed in the middle of the chamber, two large antithetic figures are depicted with a smaller one in the middle. There is a man on the left and a woman on the right. The middle person, also male, stands higher and hugs the two outer ones. The large figures wear a long, smooth robe with a vertical, double bridge. The man has a round cap or tiara on his head, the woman has a veil. Large parts of the smaller figure have broken away, so that details of the clothing cannot be seen. They almost certainly represent a triad of gods of father, mother and son. It remains unclear whether this is the Hittite trinity of Teššub, Ḫebat and Šarruma, taken over from the Hurrian pantheon, which is proven by three caryatids from Tell Halaf. that they existed at least in the 9th century BC. was still known. An interpretation as Kubaba, the Luwian city goddess of Karkemiš, with Tarhunza and Karhuha is also being considered. In NKr 12 and NKr 13 two large men can be seen facing to the right. The first (from the right) holds a knife in his right hand in front of his body, the left is raised in greeting. The second bends one arm while saluting with the other. The third again holds a knife, the fourth a shouldered club, both greet with the other hand. Everyone's clothing is the same with long robes and round caps or headbands. All four move in a row towards the god triad of NKR 11. From the comparison with the procession of gods in Yazılıkaya it can be concluded that these are also gods. Winfried Orthmann, on the other hand, suggests a procession of dignitaries. Such scenes are known from Karkemiš and Zincirli, but they do not depict gods, but rather kings. The back of the chamber is closed by the pictureless binder NKr 14.

The left rear corner piece of the chamber forms an unfinished relief with the number NKr 15 with two male figures, the left one, facing right, slightly larger than the other one facing him. NKr 16 consists of two zones without any dividing markings. Below you can see a rider sitting bareback on a horse, his left hand holding a reins, the other raised in greeting. Above him walk three men in long robes and round caps, also greeting. Everyone moves to the right, they probably form the beginning of a procession that, after a sacrificial scene, continues on NKr 18. Since they are unarmed, one can assume a cultic procession. The depiction of riders without weapons has no comparable objects in Asia Minor and Mesopotamia; all known equestrian images are related to war or hunting. NKr 17 is also divided into two zones without a hyphen. At the top left there is a small male figure holding a spear in his outstretched hand. This is carved after the relief background has been smoothed. In front of him stands a caprid walking to the right, under his head another small man facing left in a greeting posture. The scene below shows a bull sacrifice. The sacrificial animal is held by two men by its horns and tail; a third man standing behind it swings a double ax with which he will kill the bull. On the left edge of the picture a larger man, presumably a priest, is watching the action; he is holding a round object in his right hand. The bull sacrifice is comparable to the Attic ox-murder, in which the sacrificial bull was killed with a hatchet, whereas in the Anatolian area the animal's throat was generally cut. It is therefore assumed that this ritual has a Western origin. At a corresponding festival in the Heraion of Argos, the ox-beater was then symbolically stoned to cleanse him of his guilt. Therefore, the object in the priest's hand could be a stone. In the inscription, Azatiwada describes an annual ceremony in which a bull and a sheep were sacrificed to Tarhunzas/Baal. There could be a connection between writing and relief if one assumes that a goat is depicted here instead of a sheep. On the poorly preserved binder NKr 18, which is only 27 centimeters wide, two men are depicted facing to the right in a greeting posture, which most likely represents the end of the procession that began in NKr 16.

The following ship scene, NKr 19, is one of the most remarkable and discussed images of Karatepe. It shows a ship with a crew of four, including fish and human figures. It has a rectangular ram on the left bow and a raised sternpost on the right. Five rudders with angled blades protrude from the hull and a rudder in the stern area. The number of oars does not have to correspond to the actual conditions of the ship shown, it is more due to the space available to the stonemason, as is the fact that the oars do not reach as far as the water. Platforms framed with slats are attached to the bow and stern, with the railing in between. The mast extends to the upper edge of the stone; small triangles can be seen on the yard across it, which are most likely to be interpreted as reefed sails. Six ropes, some of which run diagonally, can be seen from the rigging and have hatching on them, which is probably intended to represent the rotation of the rope strands. On deck, on the left platform, there is a man who is looking forward and pointing there with one hand. Above the railing are two crew members facing backwards with their legs outstretched, the fourth sits on the stern platform, looking forward and holding a bowl. According to Lionel Casson, the crew of Greek ships before the 5th century BC consisted of: In addition to the rowers, there were three officers: the bow officer (Prorates), who mainly looked out at the bow, Keleustes, who was responsible for the rowers, and the captain and helmsman (Kybernetes). A second man, Pentekontarchus, was later assigned to Keleutes. If one adopts this interpretation, the bow officer would be seen on the left, the helmsman sitting on the right and the two rowing officers in the middle. The fact that the people sit or stand above instead of behind the deck structures and the railing must again be attributed to the stonemason, as otherwise the depiction would have become too confusing. There are two people lying in the water under the ship, including four large and four smaller fish, tightly packed together. A comparison with the victims of a chariot battle that can be seen on the Long Wall of Sculptures in Karkemiš suggests, due to their similarly contorted posture, that these are dead, i.e. enemies killed in a sea battle. Since all sailors are shown unarmed, it can be assumed that the scene is after a battle has been won. It remains to be seen whether this refers to a specific historical event.

The ship scene was covered by numerous scholars after its initial publication. Machteld Mellink compares 1950 with similar scenes from Sennacherib's palace in Nineveh and considers that it could be a Cilician ship, since Sennacherib's annals mention Hittites building ships for him. In the same year, the French historian James Germain Février described it as a longship of the Greek type in an article about Phoenician ships. In 1969, in a study of Phoenician ships, the Belgian naval historian Lucien Basch also recognized a design similar to that of the Greeks. Casson, on the other hand, sees a war galley modeled on the Phoenician models, while the American underwater archaeologist George Fletcher Bass also sees parallels to the Aegean ship type. Irene Winter describes the scene in her essay on the reliefs from the Karatepe, but leaves the decision about the ship's origin open. Finally, after numerous comparisons of superstructure, rigging, general construction and crew, Halet Çambel gives preference to the ship's Greek or Aegean origins.


Left gate chamber

The left chamber of the north gate was found very disturbed. Since the terrain here slopes down in several directions, the effects of erosion were particularly strong; the protective layer of earth only reached half the height of the relief stones. Only a small portion of the bases remained in situ. Of the orthostats, only parts of the Sphinx NKl 1, the lower half of NKl 10 and part of the inscription stone NKl 11 were found at the original location. The current placement of the reliefs is therefore not certain.

The images of the chamber begin on the left with the portal sphinx NKl 1, which is composed of more than 250 fragments. It roughly corresponds to the NKl 1 opposite, but the palmetto tree has been omitted here. The following relief NKl 2 shows a car with three people moving to the right and being pulled by a horse. The front figure, the charioteer, is bent over and holds the reins in both hands; little of the other occupants has survived. The car has eight-spoke wheels, the car body has almost completely broken away except for a piece of the drawbar. The horse's decorated mane is clearly visible, a ring with pendants hangs from the harness, and another decorative object hangs from the head. The ring is comparable to the decorative disc known from Assyrian horse images. In late Hittite depictions, horse-drawn carriages only appear in connection with hunting or war. However, since neither weapons nor enemies or prey animals can be seen here, one can only speculate about the meaning of the relief. An arched object above the heads of the chariot crew is thought to be either a parasol or a shield, as is known from a terracotta chariot model from Ajia Irini on the Cyclades island of Kea. Depictions of rulers going out with a parasol are often found in the Mesopotamian region; a comparison with the Cycladic model would indicate a cultic background. From the subsequent NKl 3, only the fragment of a person facing to the right with an outstretched arm has been preserved. There may also have been a second figure.

The back wall of the chamber begins with NKl 4, a heavily chipped and fragmented god carrying a goat. You can see the feet going to the left, the left hand that holds the animal's hind legs and the ear and base of the horn. In the following relief NKl 5, the surface is almost complete, but only has flat contours, so it is probably not finished. You can see two men walking to the right. The one in front carries a bowl on the right and a bowl with food in the raised left. As with the banquet scenes SVl 3 and SKr 15, this is shown in an open cross section so that the content is visible. The second, slightly smaller man leads a goat running next to him by holding it by the horn and back. The meaning of the scene remains open; a meal or a sacrificial scene is possible. Examples of offering processions, in which a man with the sacrificial animal follows the person offering, are known from Arslantepe and Karkemiš. In Alaca Höyük, goats are also sacrificed in a similar way. On the next orthostat NKl 6, which is also heavily fragmented, a man, presumably a god, is depicted striding to the left, occupying the entire height, and holding a hunted lion in front of him. The prey animal hangs from the man's hand, its head bent upwards with its mouth open. The hunter is armed with a short sword and mace. Judging by the weapons, it could also be a ruler or official, but the location in the middle of the back wall opposite the triad of gods from NKr 9 points more towards a god.

The relief NKl 7 shows two antithetic men facing a palm tree in the middle; a winged sun hovers above the scene. It consists of 45 fragments, the surface is badly damaged. Large parts of the figures are missing; the crown of the palm tree with a flower framed by volutes and a remnant of the cross-hatched trunk can be seen. The wing sun consists of concentric circles, the wings of coverts and flight feathers. A comparison with a relief found in Domuztepe across the river shows that the subjects' legs are bent and their hands probably touched the palm tree. This posture is typical for dancers. The winged sun suggests that those depicted are not mortals. Orthmann sees parallels in the picture to Neo-Assyrian models. With reference to corresponding finds from Nuzi, Çambel also believes a connection to the Mitan-Hurrian culture is possible. The last picture stone on the back wall with the number NKl 8 shows a female figure of full height in relief, probably a goddess. Parts of his head and arm were broken off. She is dressed in a pleated robe with a border that reaches down to her calves and is encircled by a belt with hanging ends at the front. She carries a jug on her head, which she probably holds with both hands. The meaning or exact identity of the goddess is unclear. The positioning of this stone at the corner of the chamber is secured by recesses in the boss.

Only a 40 centimeter high and 30 centimeter wide fragment remains of NKl 9, which shows a hand that is probably holding a bird. The relief NKl 10, which is particularly disturbed in the upper area, shows a man turned to the right, a bird catcher. He has a caught bird over his shoulder. The animal's feet are tied together with a rope, at the other end of which another bird hangs. In his hand he holds a net racket with which he is about to catch a bird standing at his feet. A similar device can be seen on SKl 14. The bird on the right is probably a brown ibis, a species of ibis. Remains of relief at the top right could have belonged to another bird. The text on a bronze plaque from Hattuša shows that when a country is handed over by contract, the bird catchers located there must also be handed over. This indicates a special importance of the bird catchers, possibly in connection with bird watching, which was often practiced in the Hittite empire. Since the lower part of NKl 10 was found in situ, the installation here is secured. The next orthostat NKl 11 bears the hieroglyphic inscription Hu 1. The portal lion NKl 12 closes the left gate chamber. It is also highly fragmented. The torn throat, slightly protruding tongue and canine teeth can still be seen from the damaged head.


South gate

The location of the south gate on a high terrace near the top of the hill allowed significantly less soil to accumulate here, meaning the orthostats were more exposed to the forces of erosion and vegetation than at the north gate. In addition, the location on a steep slope meant that all moving parts were washed further down the slope by heavy rain. Therefore, the condition of finding the reliefs here was much worse than at the north gate. Over the years, fragments have repeatedly been found in the bushes on the hillside.


Right atrium

The right side of the atrium begins with the only partially preserved portal sculpture SVr 1. What remains are legs and parts of the body with recognizable wings. Since portal sphinxes cannot be found in external locations in the late Hittite period, Çambel's colleague Aslı Özyar believes the figure to be a winged lion, as does the corresponding sculpture SVl 1. This is followed by SVr 2 with the Luwian inscription Ho 2. The relief SVr 3 shows the Ruler, sitting on a throne facing left. His feet rest on a shelf, his right raised hand holds a flower, although the blossom has broken away, and his left hand holds a bowl in front of his body. Behind him is a slightly smaller man with a fly whisk. The eyes of both people are shown frontally and have a double border. The chair appears to be a type known in Karatepe, as it can also be seen on SVl 3 and SKr 16. It is certainly made of wood and has three crossbars on the sides with paneling in between. There are comparable scenes here on the reliefs mentioned and in Zincirli. Parts of the hieroglyphic Luwian text are attached unrelated to the figures.

Two antithetic bullmen are depicted on the orthostat SVr 4. The faces shown frontally are human with long hair falling to the shoulders and a beard. The hind feet of bulls and the tail can be seen underneath the shirt. The hands hold lances standing on the ground. In his studies of late Hittite art, Winfried Orthmann lists numerous examples of such bull people, as well as isolated depictions from the Hittite empire period and from Middle and Neo-Assyrian art. Most of them are guardian figures, but the meaning of the creatures in Karatepe is unclear. The following stones SVr 5 and SVr 6 bear the Luwian inscription parts Ho 6a and 6b. The lion figure SVr 7 that closes the forecourt is offset by more than a meter in contrast to the north gate. It consists of numerous fragments; large parts, including the head, are missing. The body is covered by the inscription Ho 1.


Atrium on the left

Only small parts of the winged lion SVl 1, the counterpart to SVr 1, which opens the left atrial row have survived; they are now attached in the assumed position using metal supports.

The following two orthostats SVl 2 and SVl 3 must be viewed as belonging together. Both are divided into two zones, with food carriers at the top on the left, a music band at the bottom and a feast scene at the top right and a bull sacrifice at the bottom. The food bearers are four male figures, three of them facing right and one facing left. The front one, on the right, carries two beverage vessels, a phial and a handle vessel, which are made of bronze or precious metal according to the recognizable fluting. The second, smaller one, the only one drawn without a beard, holds a beaked jug and a bag, possibly with water and spices. Why he is the only one looking to the left cannot be explained. The third brings a roast hare on a tray, the fourth a duck. All four are dressed in knee-length shirts with trim. The four musicians in the lower area also face to the right. They are led by an aulete, the next two play different lyres. These differ in type from those in Scene NVl 7, the first is a round-bottomed lyre native to the Aegean region, the second an asymmetrical flat-bottomed lyre that came from Mesopotamia and northern Syria, but also in the 2nd millennium BC. BC is known in Anatolia, including from a Hittite fist-shaped rhyton of unknown origin. The fourth musician beats a frame drum. In contrast to NVl 7, here it is a man who operates this instrument. In his studies, Orthmann lists a large number of Hittite music bands, which he divides into different groups. He puts these into group B, where the musicians move in a row in the same direction. Similar chapels appear in Zincirli and Karkemiš.

The upper half of the right-hand figure SVl 3 shows a male figure sitting on a throne, his feet resting on a bench, in front of a set table. The right hand reaches for the food in a bowl, which is shown in cross section, showing flatbreads and cone-shaped cheese. He holds one in his left hand, which rests on the armrest. Behind the armchair there is another food stand with two jugs, next to it is a servant with a frond. In front of the person on the throne, two other servants stand facing him, the one in front also with a fly whisk and a jug, the one in the back brings a tray with unidentifiable food. There is an incense stand to the left of the table. A monkey is crouching under the table with its paw to its mouth, apparently eating leftovers from the meal. The vessels are forms made of clay and metal that are known from central Anatolia, but also from further afield such as Crete, the Levant or Cyprus. However, there were no comparable dishes among the ceramic finds from Karatepe. The chair with the bench is similar to that of the SVr 3 and SKr 16; like the food stand, it is made of wood and comes from local production. The table stands on S-shaped legs, which are connected at the top with a stabilizing cross brace. Three capitals can be seen above that support the plate. In his study of Phoenician furniture, E. Gubel sees a local origin of the table, but the well-known table from the large tumulus of Gordion also offers a comparison. Çambel assumes that the stonemason was familiar with Phoenician and Phrygian tables, so he incorporated both into his ideas about a princely table. Monkeys are and have never been native to the Anatolian region, but appear in both Assyrian and Asia Minor depictions from the 2nd millennium BC. BC, they probably came to the area as gifts from Egypt. It cannot be clarified whether it has any significance in the context of the ritual depicted.

A sacrificial scene can be seen in the lower section of SVl 3. A bull is held on a rope by two men standing on the right and left; behind the animal is another man with a jug in his hands. On the right edge of the relief a man carries a goat on his shoulders. A fifth man stands to the left of the scene, facing away from her. He is dressed in a cloak with parallel stripes, which Çambel compares to that of King Warpalawa from the İvriz rock relief. Its function is not clear. The sacrifice of the bull and goat here, similar to NKr 17, could have a reference to the annual sacrifice to the weather god described in the text of the inscription.

The sacrificial animals indicate that scene SVl 2/3 is a ritual meal. There may be a temporal connection between the two upper images, in which food is brought to the table of the person enthroned, and the two lower ones, in which the sacrifice is accompanied by a music band. But all four images can also be seen as individual parts of the same plot. There are numerous examples of both possibilities in Mesopotamia, among other places. According to Çambel, the person enthroned cannot be a god, as they are depicted sitting in banquet scenes but never in connection with mortal servants. Therefore, only the interpretation as a ruler remains, although whether it is a local regent, i.e. Azatiwada, or an already deceased, deified king, in this case probably Awariku/Urikki, remains speculation. Equally unclear is the function of the figure on the left in the bull sacrifice scene, which may represent a priest leading the sacrificial ceremony, or perhaps also the ruler himself pictured above, who attends the ritual in a priestly capacity at another point in time.

The orthostat SVl 4 shows a man standing on a bull looking to the right. He holds a hare by its hind legs in his right hand and a bird in his left. In front of him stands a smaller figure, also facing right. The size and the fact that he is standing on a bull clearly identify him as a god. While the weather god usually occupies this location, the animals depicted here indicate that there is a mixture of the weather god with a protective god of the fields and animals. The function of the small figure is unclear; it may represent the ruler, although not as an adorant because of the same direction of view, but as a ward, comparable to the depiction of Tudhalija as Šarruma's protégé in Yazılıkaya.

The following relief SVl 5 is again divided into two zones. In the upper one, an unarmed man standing in the middle is stabbed to death by two antithetic warriors with swords. The two wear the caterpillar helmets of the foot soldiers and round shields and hold the man by the wrists with one hand. This stands elevated on a pedestal. In the picture below, a warrior stands in the middle with a helmet and a shield carried over his shoulder. He holds two riders' horses by the halter. These are armed with pointed helmets and lances typical of cavalry, which they hold horizontally at the height of the horses' backs. They pull back the mounts' heads to stop them. The reins and various straps of the bridle can be seen. Comparable depictions of the scene above can be found in Tell Halaf and Karkemiš. There are no known parallels to the lower scene from Anatolia and Mesopotamia, which is why an interpretation is not possible.

The next stone contains the Pho B II section of the Phoenician inscription. The left atrium row is completed with the portal lion SVl 7, which has only been preserved in pieces. The head of the figure is missing, the inscription Pho B I is engraved on the body.


Right gate chamber

The reliefs of the right gate chamber have only been preserved in a few fragments; the placement is not certain, with the exception of the portal lion SKr 19.

Nothing remains of the first stone of the right chamber SKr 1, only a fragment of the second SKr 2 with the lower left part of an upright figure. In SKr 3 you can only see a small male figure in a greeting position in the lower right corner. In the SKr 4, which is also fragmented, all that can be seen is a man facing to the right, standing in a box-like structure. The remains of SKr 5 reveal part of a ship scene similar to NKr 19; what remains is the hull with a ram, some oars and a corpse floating in the water. A chariot scene is shown on SKr 6. You can see a handlebar with outstretched arms and a second person whose upper part has splintered off. The car body and parts of the horse have been preserved. At the top left, above the figures, an animal, possibly a dog, can be seen. The relief SKr 7, which was also badly destroyed, shows another chariot scene with remains of the horse's body without a head as well as parts of the box and the arms of the charioteer. Two animals that are difficult to recognize, a bird and perhaps a dog, each of which could indicate a hunting scene.

On the two-zone relief plate SKr 8, with which the rear wall of the chamber begins, of at least three people originally depicted, only one can be seen at the top left, holding a fish in her hand. Only the feet of two others have been preserved at the bottom left. The orthostat SKr 9, which is divided into two zones, shows two strong billy goats facing to the right. The lower one has been preserved in large parts, the upper one only in fragments. Comparable depictions are not known in late Hittite art, so an interpretation is not possible. The upper half of relief SKr 10 is missing; the lower half shows a deer and a goat being chased by dogs who attack them from behind. Only outlines of the deer can be seen. Such hunting scenes date back to the 2nd millennium BC. BC from Alacahöyük, but also from the roughly contemporary towns of Zincirli and Karkemiš. In SKr 11, two men occupying the full height of the relief stand opposite each other, holding a third, naked one upside down by the feet. The man on the left stabs him in the body with his sword. Comparisons with corresponding representations, including those from Zincirli and Karkemiš, show that this is about the killing of Ḫumbaba by Gilgamesh and Enkidu. On the remains of the SKr 12 binder, which is only 29 centimeters wide, you can see the upper body of a warrior facing to the right, holding a club and a lance, with a fish standing vertically above it. The meaning of the relief is unclear; the fish may be related to SKr 8. The picture SKr 13, which is composed of numerous individual parts, shows two large men facing each other, with a smaller one in between. The two exteriors appear to be standing on four-footed animals that cannot be precisely identified, which identifies them as gods. They hold unrecognizable animals in their hands. The third, smaller man in the middle also holds an animal by its hind legs; he is probably the ruler in the protection of the two deities.

The left side wall begins with SKr 14, of which only a few parts have survived. Remains of five men, probably originally six, can be seen in two zones. Since neither sacrificial animals nor food can be seen, it is not clear what kind of procession they form. The two following orthostats SKr 15 and SKr 16, which belong together, contain remnants of a banquet scene, comparable to SVl 3. The arrangement is changed, the person sitting on the throne sits on the left, the depiction seems to be modeled on the well-known banquet scene, but simplified. For example, the table is drawn more simply; the food lies on it without a bowl. The few surviving fragments of SKr 17 show a small man at the bottom right, with the abdomen of a horse in front of it. According to Özyar, a structure in the upper left corner could be a decoy cage. Only the upper third of the next relief SKr 18 is available. You can see an archer, the size of a god. He faces to the right and holds an unstrung bow in his outstretched hand and carries a quiver on his shoulder. A similar image can be seen on NVr 4. The end of the left row of chambers is the portal lion SKr 19, which has also only been preserved in a few parts. The head is missing, but a recovered fragment of the upper jaw with teeth and nostrils is on display in the local museum. All existing parts of the animal are covered by the hieroglyphic inscription Ho 7. At a right angle to the lion there is a last stone SKr 20, which has reliefs on two sides. On the short side there is a picture of a man with a staff in his hand, on the broad side there are parts of a cow and the remains of another animal.


Left gate chamber

At least the bases of the left gate chamber were preserved in situ, which is why the placement of the reliefs is considered certain.

The chamber begins on the left side with the cornerstone SKl 1, which has reliefs in a poor state of preservation on both the narrow and broad sides. On the broad side there is a large male figure with a bow, in front of him a dog, of which only the front part is present, with another animal underneath. On the left, a smaller man is holding arrows, and a bird and two dogs can be seen above. The figures probably represent a hunting god with his assistant. A smaller figure is also carved on the narrow side, perhaps another hunting assistant. Dogs are also used on SKr 10 as hunting aides. The stones SKl 2 to SKl 6 are completely missing. On this side of the chamber there is only SKl 7, which shows a large figure facing left, in front of it a much smaller one looking at him. The great one, i.e. the god, wears a richly decorated robe with fringes and a border of rosettes and squares, comparable to that of King Warpalawa on the so-called Stele of Bor found in Kemerhisar, the Luwian Tuwana, and of the same king on the rock relief of İvriz. In contrast to the two representations mentioned, here it is the god who wears the decorated robe. The smaller figure would therefore be the ruler protected by him.

The first three orthostats on the back wall SKl 8 to SKl 10 together represent a sacrificial procession that is probably moving to the left towards the god of SKl 7. The upper half of SKl 9 is missing, and about a third of SKl 10. On the first, SKl 8, two men can be seen in two zones. The top left one holds a staff, the next one carries a goat on his shoulders. Below, the man in front is leading a goat on a rope, the man in the back is carrying an animal, large parts of which are missing. On SKl 9 only the lower part of a man can be seen and behind it the remains of an animal. SKl 10 is again designed in two zones with two men, of which the upper left one is slightly larger and only half preserved. The man following him carries a goat on both hands. The two at the bottom each lead a goat, one holds a bowl in his hand, the other an unrecognizable object. The highly fragmented relief SKl 11 shows the remains of five men in two zones and in the upper area parts of a piece of furniture that cannot be interpreted in more detail, similar to those from SVl 3. There is a figure on each side of the furniture. In the lower area parts of three men can be seen, the two on the left facing right, the third facing left. Only the head of the left one has been preserved. The meaning of the scene cannot be reconstructed. The meaning of the next illustration on SKl 12 is also unclear. Below you can see two antithetic bulls, above them the feet of two other animals, possibly lions. On the well-preserved binder SKl 13, which consists of two blocks, five large birds and one smaller bird are depicted one above the other. They can probably be assigned to the bird hunting scene on the following SKl 14. This is divided into two areas, in the upper one there is a simple boat, round at the bottom, in which there are two men facing left. The front, standing one holds a fishing gear, comparable to the decoy cage shown in SKr 17. The one in the back sits and holds a paddle. Swimming under the boat is an unidentified fish with two fins on its back and two on its belly. In the scene below, a man stands on the right with fishing gear in his hand. The comparison with NKl 10 suggests a net racket. The semicircular device in the other hand cannot be determined. He is trying to catch a bird standing in front of him. This one has a large body, long legs and a straight beak. According to ornithologist Hans Deetjen, like the birds on SKl 13, it could be a Francolin.

The three relief stones SKl 15 to SKl 17 on the right side of the chamber show a procession of four gods of the fields and meadows as well as two human figures. In the first picture, the god is standing on the right, facing left, holding a hare by its hind legs in his left hand and a bird in his right hand. He corresponds to the depiction on SVl 4. In front of him, looking at him, stands a smaller figure, which should therefore show the ruler. The caterpillar helmet and the spear in his hand identify him as a military leader. In the next picture, the god shown in the same way is preceded by a small figure, possibly an assistant. The third picture shows two of these gods, also with a rabbit and a bird, completing the procession. A similar procession of field gods can be seen on a seal scroll from Kültepe. The stones SKl 18 to SKl 20 are missing. The chamber side is closed off by the heavily fragmented portal lion SKl 21. All of the teeth, including the fangs, have been preserved on the head, with the triangular tongue hanging out of the torn throat in between. At right angles to it, corresponding to the opposite SKr 20, is a last orthostat SKl 22. Only three fragments of the two-sided corner stone are available. On the broad side only the head and parts of the shoulder of a large figure facing left can be seen, on the narrow side the remains of the face of a large figure facing left.


Statue of the weather god

The statue of the weather god stands about six meters northeast of the south gate in the interior of the fortress. The site is secured as its original location by a hollow carved into the grown rock. The larger-than-life statue stands on a bull base measuring approximately 1.3 × 1.0 meters and thus reaches a height of over three meters. The god wears an ankle-length robe with fringes at the bottom, a cloth wrapped tightly around the body and a cap on his head with ear flaps tied up and a border. His arms are bent and he is holding two broken, unrecognizable objects in his hands. The missing face was modeled in 1988 by Nezar Özatay, a sculptor and restorer at the Center for Restoration and Conservation of the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums in Istanbul.

The bull base, which is embedded in the hollow of the floor, has a square hole into which the statue's tenon is fitted. Two bulls, the well-known attributes of the weather god, can be seen in relief on the sides; the heads are plastic and heavily weathered. On the front they are held by a man, also in relief, with both arms by their heads. His head is missing.

The entire lower body of the figure as well as the back and side of the left animal are covered with the Phoenician inscription PhSt/CV. According to their text, the deity depicted is Baʿal-KRNTRYŠ.


Arrangement and iconography of the images

The largest group of depictions is made up of the gods, which can be recognized by their size, which takes up the entire height of the relief. The marking by horns, which is otherwise known from the ancient Near East, is not found here. Some of the gods are named in the inscription; there are gods from the entire Luwian pantheon worshiped in Azatiwataya. These include gods of the fields, gods of the hunt (possibly the lord of the bow Jarri on NVr 4, who is associated with Apollo) and a patron god of livestock, the goat bearer on NVr 11. The highest god in the Anatolian pantheon, the weather god Tarhunza or Teššub, is possibly the male god of the triad of gods on NKr 11. The next largest group of mythical creatures includes Bes, depicted several times, the bird-headed genius on NVr 9, bull men on SVr 4 as well as the antithetic warriors and dancers. The depiction of the killing of Ḫumbaba from the Epic of Gilgamesh and the goats standing on the tree must also be assigned to this group. The group of images from the mortal realm includes representations of rulers, sacrificial and banquet scenes including images of music and dance, hunting and bird-catching scenes, chariot scenes and finally reliefs that may refer to historical events, such as the audience of NKR 3 and the ship scene NKR 19. Regarding the images of rulers, it must be stated that, due to the lack of inscriptions, none of the figures can be positively identified with a specific ruler.

Numerous parts of the reliefs were found in situ; for others, the installation could be determined based on butt joints and bases. From the arrangement, a rough concept of the content can be seen, in which the world of the gods and their mythological environment, on the right side, is juxtaposed with the ritual actions of mortals on the left side. Whether the statues were created for the purposes of worship - of the gods or the rulers - or to impress strangers entering the castle, or were set up with other, unknown purposes, can only be speculated. Only some figures, such as the triple Bes, the winged Genius NVr 9 or the portal lions and the sphinxes, can be assumed to have a protective or guardian function.

The origin of the picture motifs can be found primarily in the ancient Anatolian and Mesopotamian regions, but influences from the Phoenician and the western, i.e. Greek and Cretan, cultures can also be recognized.