Traces of the gods in the Ain Dara temple (11 photos)

Category: Archeology, PEGI 0+
13 April 2024

Deep in the arid lands of northern Syria lies an archaeological site unlike any other. Ain Dara is formed by several structures built around a large central temple.

The temple is amazing with giant footprints at the foot of the stairs near the entrance. Due to their size, they clearly cannot belong to a person. And the locals believe that the traces in the stone were left by a deity. Plus, Ain Dara clearly resembles the biblical Temple of Solomon.

Ancient Sanctuary

It is generally accepted that it represents a Syro-Hittite temple of the Iron Age. These kingdoms were political entities of the early Iron Age in the territory of southwestern Anatolia and the north of modern Syria, formed as a result of the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC. e. and existed until about 700 BC. e.

The complex was found in 1955, and in the period from 1956 to 1980 archaeological excavations were carried out on the territory several times.

The building is located on an embankment, towering above other buildings. The square central chamber is surrounded on three sides by a gallery. The basis of the structure is basalt blocks. The skillful carvings on the walls serve as clear evidence of the skill of the ancient builders. Many bas-reliefs are made in the form of geometric patterns and mythical animals. The main staircase of the temple was guarded by lions and sphinxes skillfully carved from basalt slabs.

Despite the fairly well-preserved reliefs outside and inside the building, researchers have not come to a final conclusion regarding who exactly the temple was dedicated to. Presumably this is the goddess of love and fertility Ishtar. But there are other candidates for the role of patrons.

Mysterious prints

An amazing feature of the Ain Dara temple are the footprints of huge feet in the limestone blocks of the threshold. The footprints are located directly at the entrance to the temple and reach a meter in length.

The first is located on the floor of the portico, then there are two more nearby, and the last one is located at the entrance to the central hall. The distance between steps exceeds 9 meters. Accordingly, the one who made them, a man or god, was more than 20 meters tall.

The temple is similar in many ways to the biblical descriptions of Solomon's temple. Of which he may have been a predecessor. Both buildings were built according to identical plans: the main hall, the entrance with two columns, the sanctuary itself.

Giants among us

For believers, who had to take many more steps to cover the same distance, the footprints served as proof of the presence of the deity. Huge, strong, omnipotent.

But how can these prints actually be explained, mysticism aside? There are several versions. Some researchers attribute them to huge humanoid creatures, whose race could be the ancestors of humans.

Others are confident that the tracks were left by unknown animals. The most prosaic explanation is that the prints are of artificial origin, and they were carved during the construction of the temple. But why?

To remind of the greatness and power of the gods and the insignificance of people in comparison with them?

Shattered Legacy

At the beginning of 2018, the temple was heavily damaged during airstrikes by the Turkish Air Force. From the once majestic building - the legacy of the ancient kingdom, only fragments and ruins remained. The majestic lions were stolen by looters.

But thanks to this cultural heritage, people had the opportunity to become closer to their ancestors and better understand themselves. There is every chance that soon the temple will completely disappear from the face of the earth. And no one will ever be able to reveal the secret of the giant steps.

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