The American Schools of Oriental Research’s Cultural Heritage Initiatives is reporting that an important Biblical-era archeological site known as the Tell Ain Dara Temple in northwest Syria was hit on or before January 22, 2018 by two Turkish missiles. Preliminary surveys of the site show substantial damage to the already toppled ruins caused by the explosions. Analysis of shrapnel indicates the damage was caused by two JDAM missiles fired by a Turkish F-16.
What partially makes this temple important to archeologists is that it is believed to be a design similar to the famed Temple of Solomon on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem that plays such a central role in Masonic ritual and symbolism. Most of the Syrian buildings themselves had been toppled perhaps centuries ago, but these new explosions have destroyed surviving artifacts and carvings at the site.
The most significant find at Tell Ain Dara is the remains of an Early Iron Age (ca. 1200–550 BCE) in antis temple. This structure is the best-preserved example of a temple from this region during this time period. Located along the northwestern edge of the high mound, the northwest-southeast oriented temple rests on a low platform and is decorated with a series of basalt reliefs and animal protomes (an adornment consisting of the frontal view of the creature) carved in the highly distinctive Syro-Hittite style. The core of the temple consists of a portico, an antecella, and a cella. In addition, a passageway runs around the western, northern, and eastern faces of the central series of rooms. A series of limestone thresholds in the temple’s main doorways are adorned with carvings of larger-than-life human footprints that lead inward, conveying the idea that a deity has entered the temple. The presence of these impressions is unique to this building.
The precise dates of the temple’s construction and use remain unknown. The temple was likely founded towards the end of the second millennium and underwent a series of changes before its destruction, possibly in the 8th century BCE. According to the excavator, the building was cleared of rubble in preparation for its reconstruction, but this never materialized. The building was eventually covered and built over in the following centuries.
The god or goddess worshipped in the building remains unknown. The excavator attributed it to Ishtar on the basis of a stele depicting that goddess that was found in a secondary context. Scholars have also offered other suggestions, including the weather god Ba’al Hadad.
Since its discovery, the Ain Dara temple has played a central role in discussions about the appearance of the contemporary Temple of Solomon, which is described in the Old Testament. Some scholars view it as a close parallel. Others are less certain.
The Temple site in 1990.
More details and photos at the link HERE.