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Arslantepe Ruins, Malatya 05.jpg
Melid is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
RegionMalatya Province
Coordinates38°22′55″N 38°21′40″E / 38.38194°N 38.36111°E / 38.38194; 38.36111Coordinates: 38°22′55″N 38°21′40″E / 38.38194°N 38.36111°E / 38.38194; 38.36111
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins
Official nameArslantepe Mound
CriteriaCultural: (iii)
Designated2021 (44th session)
Reference no.1622
Area4.85 ha (12.0 acres)
Buffer zone74.07 ha (183.0 acres)
A Hittite lion from the Neo-Hittite era (1180-700 BC) at the entrance to the ruins of Arslantepe.
A Hittite relief of a libation to Tiwaz and Arma from the ruins of Arslantepe at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Melid (Hittite: Malidiya[1] and possibly also Midduwa;[2] Akkadian: Meliddu;[3] Urartian: Melitea; Latin: Melitene) also known as Arslantepe was an ancient city on the Tohma River, a tributary of the upper Euphrates rising in the Taurus Mountains. It has been identified with the modern archaeological site of Arslantepe near Malatya, Turkey.[4]

It was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site under the name Arslantepe Mound on 26 July 2021.[5]


Mural paintings in the ruins of Arslantepe in Malatya, Turkey.
Mural paintings in the ruins of Arslantepe in Malatya, Turkey.
Mural paintings in the ruins of Arslantepe in Malatya, Turkey.
Carving of two "lionmen" (1200 BCE) at the entrance to the ruins of Arslantepe.
Stone carving at the entrance to the ruins of Arslantepe.
Hittite bas relief from the ruins of Arslantepe at Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Late Chalcolithic[edit]

The earliest habitation at the site dates back to the Chalcolithic period.[6]

Arslantepe (VII) became important in this region in the Late Chalcolithic. A monumental area with a huge mudbrick building stood on top of a mound. The building had a large building with wall decorations and its function is uncertain.


A nearby site, Değirmentepe, located 24 km north east of Melid. is notable as the location of the earliest secure evidence of copper smelting.[7] The site was built on a small natural outcrop in the flood plain about 40m from the Euphrates River.

Early Bronze[edit]

By the late Uruk period development had grown to include a large temple/palace complex.[8]

Culturally, Melid was part of the "Northern regions of Greater Mesopotamia" functioning as a trade colony along the Euphrates River bringing raw materials to Sumer (Lower Mesopotamia).

Numerous similarities have been found between these early layers at Arslantepe, and the somewhat later site of Birecik (Birecik Dam Cemetery), also in Turkey, to the southwest of Melid.[9]

Around 3000 BCE, the transitional EBI-EBII, there was widespread burning and destruction, after which Kura-Araxes culture pottery appeared in the area. This was a mainly pastoralist culture connected with the Caucasus mountains.[10]

Late Bronze Age[edit]

In the Late Bronze Age, the site became an administrative center of a larger region in the kingdom of Isuwa. The city was heavily fortified, probably due to the Hittite threat from the west. It was culturally influenced by the Hurrians, Mitanni and the Hittites.

Around 1350 BC, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites conquered Melid in his war against Tushratta of Mitanni. At the time Melid was a regional capital of Isuwa at the frontier between the Hittites and the Mitanni; it was loyal to Tushratta. Suppiluliuma I used Melid as a base for his military campaign to sack the Mitanni capital Wassukanni.

Iron Age[edit]

After the end of the Hittite empire, from the 12th to 7th century BC, the city became the center of an independent Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu, also known as 'Malizi'. A palace was built and monumental stone sculptures of lions and the ruler erected.

In the 12th century, Melid was probably dependent on Karkemiš, where king Kuzi-Tešub ruled. His two grandsons, Runtyas and Arnuwantis, were at first appointed as “Country Lords” of Melid, but later they also became kings of Melid.[11]

The encounter with the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser I (1115–1077 BC) resulted in the kingdom of Melid being forced to pay tribute to Assyria. Melid remained able to prosper until the Assyrian king Sargon II (722–705 BC) sacked the city in 712 BC.[12] At the same time, the Cimmerians and Scythians invaded Anatolia and the city declined.

According to Igor Diakonoff and John Greppin, there was likely an Armenian presence in Melid by 1200 BCE.[13]


Arslantepe was first investigated by the French archaeologist Louis Delaporte from 1932 to 1939.[14][15][16] From 1946 to 1951 Claude F.A. Schaeffer carried out some soundings.

The first Italian excavations at the site of Arslantepe started in 1961, and were conducted under the direction of Professors Piero Meriggi and Salvatore M. Puglisi until 1968.[17][18][19] The choice of the site was initially due to their desire to investigate the Neo-Hittite phases of occupation at the site, a period in which Malatya was the capital of one of the most important reigns born after the destruction of the Hittite Empire in its most eastern borders.[clarification needed] Majestic remains of this period had been known from Arslantepe since the 1930s after they were brought to light by a French expedition. The Hittitologist Meriggi only took part in the first few campaigns and later left the direction to Puglisi, a palaeoethnologist, who expanded and regularly conducted yearly investigations under regular permit from the Turkish government. Alba Palmieri took over the supervision of the excavation during the 1970s.[20][21] In the early 21st century, the archaeological investigation was led by Marcella Frangipane.[4]

Early swords[edit]

The first swords known in the Early Bronze Age (c. 33rd to 31st centuries) are based on finds at Arslantepe by Marcella Frangipane of Rome University.[22][23][24] A cache of nine swords and daggers was found; they are composed of arsenic-copper alloy. Among them, three swords were beautifully inlaid with silver.

These weapons have a total length of 45 to 60 cm which suggests their description as either short swords or long daggers.

These discoveries were made back in the 1980s. They belong to the local phase VI A. Also, 12 spearheads were found.

Phase VI A at Arslantepe ended in destruction—the city was burned. Later on, some new occupants also left some bronze weapons, including swords. They were found in the rich tomb of "Signori Arslantepe" or "Signor Arslantepe", as he was called by archaeologists. He was about 40 years old, and the tomb is radiocarbon dated to 3081–2897 BCE.[25]


  1. ^ "Melid." Reallexikon der Assyriologie. Accessed 12 Dec 2010.
  2. ^ KBo V 8 IV 18. Op. cit. Puhvel, Jaan. Trends in Linguistics: Hittite Etymological Dictionary: Vol. 6: Words Beginning with M. Walter de Gruyter, 2004. Accessed 12 Dec 2010.
  3. ^ Hawkins, John D. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions. Vol. 1: Inscriptions of the Iron Age. Walter de Gruyter, 2000.
  4. ^ a b Historical Dictionary of the Hittites, pp. 185-186
  5. ^ "UNESCO adds 6000-year-old 'Lion Hill' in Turkey's Malatya to list". Daily Sabah. 26 July 2021. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  6. ^ Frangipane Marcella. The Late Chalcolithic IEB I sequence at Arslantepe. Chronological and cultural remarks from a frontier site. In: Chronologies des pays du Caucase et de l’Euphrate aux IVe-IIIe millénaires. From the Euphrates to the Caucasus: Chronologies for the 4th-3rd millennium B.C. Vom Euphrat in den Kaukasus: Vergleichende Chronologie des 4. und 3. Jahrtausends v. Chr. Actes du Colloque d’Istanbul, 16-19 décembre 1998. Istanbul : Institut Français d'Études Anatoliennes-Georges Dumézil, pp. 439-471, 2000
  7. ^ "TAY-Site Age Details".
  8. ^ Frangipane Marcella. A 4th-millennium temple/palace complex at Arslantepe-Malatya. North-South relations and the formation of early state societies in the Northern regions of Greater Mesopotamia.. In: Paléorient, vol. 23, no. 1. pp. 45-73, 1997
  9. ^ Schmidt-Schultz Tyedje, Schultz Michael, Sadori Laura, Palmieri A., Morbidelli Paola, Hauptmann Andreas, Di Nocera Gian Maria, Frangipane Marcella, New Symbols of a New Power in a "Royal" Tomb from 3 000 BC Arslantepe, Malatya (Turkey). Paléorient, 2001, vol. 27, n°2. pp. 105-139
  10. ^ Frangipane, Marcella (2015). "Different types of multiethnic societies and different patterns of development and change in the prehistoric Near East". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (30): 9182–9189. Bibcode:2015PNAS..112.9182F. doi:10.1073/pnas.1419883112. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 4522825. PMID 26015583.
  11. ^ Federico Manuelli (2019), Carving the memory, altering the past. PUGNUS-mili and the earlier Iron Age rulers at Arslantepe/Malizi (South-Eastern Turkey). In book: Lafer R., Dolenz H., Luik M. (eds.), Antiquitates variae. Festschrift für Karl Strobel zum 65. Geburtstag (pp.227-241) Publisher: VML Verlag
  12. ^ J. D. Hawkins, Assyrians and Hittites, Iraq, vol. 36, no. 1/2, pp. 67-83, 1974
  13. ^ John A. C. Greppin and I. M. Diakonoff. Some Effects of the Hurro-Urartian People and Their Languages upon the Earliest Armenians Journal of the American Oriental Society Vol. 111, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 1991), p. 727.(
  14. ^ Louis Delaporte, Malatya. La Ville et le Pays de Malatya, Review Hittites et Asian, vol. 2, no. 12, pp. 119-254, 1933
  15. ^ Louis Delaporte, Malatya - Céramique du Hittite Recent, Review Hittites et Asian, vol. 2, no. 15, pp. 257-285, 1934
  16. ^ Louis Delaporte, La Troisième Campagne de Fouille è Malatya, Review Hittites et Asian, vol. 5, no. 34, pp. 43-56, 1939
  17. ^ S.M. Puglisi and P. Meriggi, Malatya I: Rapporto preliminare delle Campagne 1961 e 1962, Orientis Antiqui Collectio, vol. 7, 1964
  18. ^ E. Equini Schneider, Malatya II: Rapporto preliminare delle Campagne 1963-1968. Il Livello Romano Bizantino e le Testimonianze Islamiche, Orientis Antiqui Collectio, vol. 10, 1970
  19. ^ P.E. Pecorella, Malatya III: Rapporto preliminare delle Campagne 1963-1968. Il Livello Eteo Imperiale e quelli Neoetei, Orientis Antiqui Collecti, vol. 12, 1975
  20. ^ Alba Palmieri, "Excavations at Arslantepe (Malatya)," Anatolian Studies, vol. 31, pp. 101-119, 1981
  21. ^ Alba Palmieri, "Arslantepe Excavations, 1982," Kazi Sonuçlari Toplantisi, vol. 5, pp. 97-101, 1983
  22. ^ "Oldest Swords Found in Turkey by dekuNukem on DeviantArt".
  23. ^ Frangipane, M. 2010: The collapse of the 4th millennium centralised system at Arslantepe and the far-reaching changes in 3rd millennium societies. ORIGINI XXXIV, 2012: 237-260.
  24. ^ Frangipane, "The 2002 Exploration Campaign at Arslantepe/Malatya" (2004)
  25. ^ "".

See also[edit]


  • Burney, Charles Allen (2004). Historical Dictionary of the Hittites. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 0-8108-4936-4.
  • Louis De Laporte, La porte des lions, 1940

External links[edit]