Archaeologists uncover 3,000-year-old female statue at citadel gate complex in Turkey

This 3,000-year-old female statue was uncovered at a citadel gate complex in Turkey by University of Toronto archaeologists leading the Tayinat Archaeological Project. Initial speculations are that the figure is a representation of either Kubaba, divine mother of the gods of ancient Anatolia, or the wife of Neo-Hittite king Suppiluliuma, or Kupapiyas, who was the wife – or possibly mother – of Taita, the dynastic founder of ancient Tayinat. Credit: Tayinat Archaeological Project

The remains of a majestic female statue uncovered at the archaeological site of Tayinat in Turkey may challenge our understanding of the public role of women in the ancient world.


Excavations led by University of Toronto archaeologists in southeast Turkey near the Syrian border have unearthed a beautifully carved head and upper torso of a female figure. The remnants are largely intact, although the face and chest appear to have been intentionally – possibly ritually – defaced in antiquity.

The preserved remnants are made of basalt and measure 1.1 metres long and .7 metres wide, suggesting the full figure of the statue would have been four to five metres high. The lower body is missing. The statue was found within a monumental gate complex that would have provided access to the upper citadel of Kunulua – later Tayinat – the capital of the Iron Age Neo-Hittite Kingdom of Patina (ca. 1000-738 BCE). The site is approximately 75 kilometres west of the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“Her striking features include a ring of curls that protrude from beneath a shawl that covers her head, shoulders and back,” says Timothy Harrison, professor of near eastern archaeology in the Department of Near & Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto (U of T) and director of U of T’s Tayinat Archaeological Project…

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