Tell Ahmar is the modern name of the ancient site of Neo-Hittite city Masuwari which is also known with the Aramean name Til Barsip. The site was first explored in 1908 by David Hogarth and later excavated by François Thureau-Dangin between 1929 and 1931. Since late 1980s it is being excavated by Guy Bunnens of University of Melbourne and later University of Liège, Belgium. Several orthostats and steles some with hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions have been found in and around the site. The site also yielded numerous artifacts from Assyrian period.
Tell Ahmar 1 is a large 3 meter tall stele dates from about mid 9th cent BCE. Front of the stele has a relief of Storm-god standing on a bull. Above the god the fragmentary traces of a winged sun-disk is visible. Eight line hieroglyphic Luwian inscription covers the three sides of it and written in first person by a ruler of Masuwari who identifies himself as the son of Ariyahina (see king list below). This inscription describes exchange of power between two dynasties. Stele is at National Museum in Aleppo.
Tell Ahmar 2 is a similar stele with a Storm-god figure below a winged sun-disk, presumably standing on a bull but the bottom section of the stele is broken. It has a 10-line hieroglyphic Luwian inscription which is a dedication by king Hamiyata to the gods. The shape of the back of stele suggests that it may have been standing in a gateway or some other structure. It was found in 1928 near Tell Ahmar by villagers. Late 10th to Early 9th Cent BCE. Currently in Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Another inscribed stele of Hamiyata (Borowski 3) is a foundation stele for the city of Haruha. It also shows a Storm-god figure in a similar form. The provenance of the stele is unknown. It may have originated from the city of Haruha, location of which is not known. Currently in Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem.
Tell Ahmar 5 is a fragment of a stele. It has 5 lines of hieroglyphic Luwian inscription which indicates dedication of granaries to Storm-god of Aleppo. Written in first person by king Hamiyata. It was found during the excavations of Tell Ahmar in 1994. Currently at National Museum in Aleppo.
Tell Ahmar/Qubbah is the most recently found and the best preserved of them. The stele probably fell into the Euphrates in antiquity where it was found in 1999 near the village of Qubbah, just to the south of Tell Ahmar. Physically the stele is very similar to Tell Ahmar 1 and 2. It has a 8-line hieroglyphic Luwian inscription which is a dedication to the gods by king Hamiyata. Stele is at National Museum in Aleppo, Syria.
Several other orthostats and steles were found at and around the site in secondary locations. Most of these are currently in Aleppo Museum or Louvre, and the whereabouts of a few of them are not clear.
Click on pictures for larger images.
|Tell Ahmar 1||Borowski 3
Tell Ahmar 2
Tell Ahmar/Qubbah ||Tell Ahmar 5
Other orthostats and steles
Kings of Masuwari (10th and 9th centuries BCE)
(J. D. Hawkins, 1980, AnSt 30: 139-156)
Ariyahina (grandson of Hapatila)
Father of Hamiyata (name not known, usurper)
Hamiyata's son (name not known)
Ariyahina's son (name not known)
Bunnens, G., J.D. Hawkins, and Leirens, I. A New Luwian Stele and the Cult of the Storm-God at Til Barsib-Masuwari. Tell Ahmar II. Leuven, 2006.
Hawkins, J. D. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol 1, Berlin, 2000: 224-245 and plts 91-102.
Orthmann, W. Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst, Bonn, 1971.
Thureau-Dangin, F. and M. Dunand. Til-Barsib, Paris, 1936.
Tayfun Bilgin, 2007.
Guy Bunnens, 2006.
Verity Cridland, 2009
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
François Thureau-Dangin, 1936.
Museé du Louvre, RMN/Hergé Lewandowski.