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Afrin in Lines » The Archeological Sites in Afrin » Ein Dara

The archeological site of Ein Dara is located at a distance of one kilometer to the west of Ein Dara village and five kilometers to the south of Afrin City. It is surrounded by fertile plains from three directions and few hundred meters west of this site is River Afrin as well as the stream of Ein Dara spring which springs from its small lake to pour into River Afrin west of the hill.

This important archeological site consists of two parts: a small ancient part in the south and a big less ancient part in the north.

The southern part is a slightly raised piece of land with 1000 square meters in space. According to archeologists, it was an agricultural village from the New Stone Age and dwelled by man about ten thousand years ago. However, it was not excavated widely except for a simple exploring process which showed some granite tools and building stones from the New Stone Age.

The northern part consists of two sections: a northern section and a southern one. The northern section is a flat piece of land with (4600) square meters in space and called "Al-Tahtania City"(the downhill city). According to Dr. Abu Assaf, this city was surrounded by defensive walls and towers at the end of the second millennium BC and it had four gates spread in the four directions, where some parts of its walls still survive west of the city, but this section was not excavated except for the northern gate and some parts from the western wall. The southern section is the well known Ein Dara Hill which is (7500) square meters in space and is called by archeologists "Al-Foqania City"(the uphill city), where its distinguishing feature is the well known archeological temple in the north.

There are different opinions about the history of the temple. According to the official Syrian sources, it goes back to the Aramaic age, while most archeologists relate it to the Hoori and Hitti times. Dr. Shaath said:" This temple was built in the Hellenistic style which was a Hoori-Mettani style spread widely in northern Syria from 1200 BC to 700 BC, and the excavation processes in Ein Dara proved the relationship between northern Syria and the Hitti culture". Moreover, the excavators found fragments with Hieroglyphic-Hitti writings from the first millennium BC, as well as a natural-sized picture of goddess Ishtar. Also, the Aleppo Guidebook ensures that it is a Hitti temple from the first millennium BC.

On the other hand, Dr.Abu Assaf, one of Ein Dara excavators, said:" The visitor of the temple longed to know the god for whom the temple was built and dedicated to worship, but we did not find any written documents regarding this matter". However, the lions statues at the entrance of the temple and almost all around it ensure that the temple was built in the style of the mountain people who used to decorating the entrance of their buildings with statues of lions and superstitious animals in order to protect their gates magically (Mortcart, page 229), and this fact is what relate the temple to 1200 BC, i.e. the Hitti period. Also, the main temple in Allakh is decorated with statues of basalt lions which go back to the period from 1347 BC to 1283 BC, while the oldest models of these statues were found at the gate of Qarqamash (Jarablus).

The history of man settlement in the northern part of Ein Dara goes back to the fourth millennium BC till the end of the Ottoman period.

The history of Ein Dara:

The mountain people age:

There are no references about the history of Ein Dara in the period of the mountain people, so we will depend on what Dr, Abu Assaf said about it.

The late Aramaic age (740-530) BC:
The relics of this period were found in the west part of the hill.

The Persian (Akhmini) age (530-330):
Female dolls of god Ishtar and an amulet inscribed with god Ahoramzad picture and the winged disk of sun were some relics from this age (Farook Ismaeel's The International Forum Researches). As well as, some architectural remains which were built on the temple ruins.

The Greek-Seleucus period:
The city was well fortified and prosperous at that time; a Greek pottery and a lot of Seleucus silver were some relics from that period.

The Roman-Byzantine period:
No ruins indicated that this site was inhabited at that time; it seems that Basoota, the nearby village, was the center of the region at that time.

The Umayyad-Abbasi age:
Life came to this site and people started working in farming by using wooden threshing machines and ploughs as Liloon Mount people did three decades ago. Then, those tools disappeared when iron tools appeared. The city continued blooming when the Byzantine controled it in 969 AD (Ayyam Addawlah Al-Hamdania), where new buildings, olive presses, baking ovens and iron-melting ovens were built.

Also, the church of the village was discovered, in which many bronze crosses and farming tools such as ploughs, sickles……were found. The most important relics were the golden coins which were discovered in the burnt houses and went back to some Byzantine Caesars. In that age, the defensive wall of the village was very strong and supported by strong towers as well as a fort south of the hill.

The Mamluke age:
After the weakness of the Byzantine against the Turks who invaded northern Syria and the middle of Anadol in 1086 AD, Ein Dara village was totally destroyed. Then, new buildings were built instead but again it was abandoned and changed into ruins.

This site was excavated for the first time by a national Syrian mission in 1954, and then seasonal   excavation processes continued till the temple was discovered at the end of sixties.

The references:
1- Samaan Citadel by Dr.Shawqi Shaath.
2- The History of the Near East by Intwan Mortcart.
3- The International Forum Researches by Farook Ismaeel.
4- Mar Samaan Church by Abdullah Hajjar.
5- The Civilizations in the West Asia by Tawfeeq Suleiman
6- Aleppo Guidebook 1997.
7- A manuscript by Dr. Muhammad Abdo Ali.

Translated by
Rashid Oso

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Afrin in Lines » The Archeological Sites in Afrin » Ein Dara