Lion of Al-lāt

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Lion of Al-lāt
Lion in the garden of Palmyra Archeological Museum, 2010-04-21.jpg
The Lion of Al-lāt, 2010
Coordinates34°33′15″N 38°16′00″E / 34.5542°N 38.2667°E / 34.5542; 38.2667Coordinates: 34°33′15″N 38°16′00″E / 34.5542°N 38.2667°E / 34.5542; 38.2667
LocationTemple of Al-Lat, Palmyra, Syria
Height3.5 m (11 ft)

The Lion of Al-lāt (Arabic أسد اللات) is an ancient statue that adorned the Temple of Al-Lat in Palmyra, Syria. On 27 June 2015, it was severely damaged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant after it had captured Palmyra.[1] The statue was removed to the National Museum of Damascus and underwent reconstruction work, and now stands again.[2]


The statue, of a lion holding a crouching gazelle, was made from limestone ashlars in the early first century AD and measured 3.5 m (11 ft) in height,[3] weighing 15 tonnes.[1] The lion was regarded as the consort of Al-lāt.[3] The gazelle symbolized Al-lāt's tender and loving traits, as bloodshed was not permitted under penalty of Al-lāt's retaliation.[4] The lion's left paw had a partially damaged Palmyrene inscription (PAT 1122) which reads: tbrk ʾ[lt] (Al-lāt will bless) mn dy lʾyšd (whoever will not shed) dm ʿl ḥgbʾ (blood in the sanctuary).[5]


The statue before 2005 restoration.

The statue was discovered in 1977 by a group of Polish archeologists from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw (PCMA UW) working under Prof. Michał Gawlikowski.[6][7] The lion of Al-lāt was the basis for the PCMA UW logo design.[8] The statue was found in pieces, having been reused in antiquity for the temple's foundation.[6] Subsequently, it was decided to reassemble the pieces in front of the entrance to the Palmyra Museum. The task was undertaken by restorer Józef Gazy. In 2005, it underwent restoration to eliminate problems from assemblage.[6] Ultimately, the piece was restored in imitation of its original intended appearance – a relief jumping out from a wall.[6] During the Syrian Civil War the statue was shielded with a metal plate and sandbags to protect it from fighting.[1]

On 27 June 2015, it was severely damaged by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant after it had captured Palmyra.[1] After the liberation of Palmyra by the Syrian army, Syria's director-general of antiquities and museums Maamoun Abdulkarim declared that the pieces were still in place and it should be possible to put them back together, giving hopes for reconstruction.[9] The statue was moved to Damascus in 2016, where it underwent complete restoration.[10] On 1 October 2017, it was fully restored, and is currently on display in the National Museum of Damascus, until safety is assured in Palmyra to move it there again.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Isis militants destroy 2,000-year-old statue of lion at Palmyra". The Guardian. 2 July 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Restoration works of Palmyra's famous ancient statue of Lion of Allat completed – Syrian Arab News Agency". October 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  3. ^ a b Kevin Butcher (2003). Roman Syria and the Near East. Getty Publications. p. 309. ISBN 0892367156.
  4. ^ Theodorus Petrus van Baaren (1982). Commemorative Figures. Brill Archive. p. 70. ISBN 9004067795.
  5. ^ Van Baaren (1982), p. 65 and Reinhard G. Lehmann: “Kein Blutvergießen!” Die Löweninschrift der ʾAllāt von Palmyra, in: ḤBL Tadmor. Studies in Palmyrene Script and Language. KUSATU 23 (2018), pp. 3-8.
  6. ^ a b c d Trochimowicz, Aleksandra; Markowski, Bartosz (2004). "The Lion of Allat in Palmyra New Museum Display Project" (PDF). Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw. Retrieved 24 September 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Palmyra". Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  8. ^ "The Lion of Palmyra is PCMA new logo". Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Palmira prima e dopo l'ISIS". Il Post (in Italian). 28 March 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  10. ^ "تمثال أسد اللات.. من تدمر إلى المتحف الوطني في دمشق استعداداً لترميمه (In Arabic)". Retrieved 21 July 2017.