SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Darren Joblonkay was digging at an archeological camp in southeastern Turkey when he spotted a lock of curly hair carved in stone.
“At first, we weren’t 100 per cent sure what it was,” said Joblonkay, a 23-year-old University of Toronto graduate student.
He didn’t want to get too excited yet.
Then, there was a shoulder, an arm and a wrist adorned by a bracelet with two lions.
Word spread quickly at the site. Soon, there was a large crowd.
The student had found a king.
A colossal 3,000-year-old statue of King Suppiluliuma lay face down, eyes wide open, curly beard in the dirt, the tale of his reign carved into his back.
Joblonkay couldn’t believe his luck.
This was the third of his four major archeological finds. All hail from a 10-by-10-metre square bordered by two temples excavated in the 1930s and in 2008. They expected a courtyard, but it’s an archeological treasure chest.
“He’s very lucky,” said Tim Harrison, professor of near eastern archeology at the U of T and director of the Tayinat Archeological Project.
It took two weeks and a team of more than 60 field workers to unearth the two-tonne statue of the man who reigned over the Neo-Hittite kingdom of Patina in the 9th century B.C.
It is a massive monument.
The head and torso are intact and measure about 1.5 metres in length, suggesting the statue’s full size was close to 4 metres, said Harrison. It’s about a metre wide. They’ve found fragments of the bottom half but have not excavated it fully yet. The king’s big eyes, made of white and black stone, are beautifully preserved, said Harrison.
There was no guessing who the king was: “I am Suppiluliuma,” reads the inscription on his back. It is followed by a list of his accomplishments: taking land from eight neighbouring kingdoms, establishing a border, and building a monument to his father, said Harrison.
Joblonkay wants to know how the statue was knocked down, why it is there at all. Is there evidence of an internal conflict? Did trouble come from outside the kingdom, beyond the borders?
These are difficult questions to answer, said Joblonkay, who decided he wanted to pursue archeology after his first undergraduate year at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.
Though he is looking forward to starting his PhD this fall, and to having a real shower, Joblonkay said he’s “sad to be leaving the statue, sad to be leaving the site.” Joblonkay leaves Turkey Sunday.
He said he’ll return next summer to uncover the mystery of how the statue of the king was toppled, the big eyes staring at dirt for so long.—www.shafaqna.com/english