The lion is fully intact, approximately 1.3 metres in height and 1.6 metres in length. It is poised in a seated position with ears back, claws extended and roaring.

Professor Timothy Harrison is unearthing glimpses into human history as far back as the early Iron Age.

A professor of near eastern archaeology and director of U of T’s Ta’yina Archaeological Project (TAP), Harrison and his team have recently discovered the remains of a monumental gate adorned with magnificent stone sculptures—including a 3,000-year-old lion in full roar.

Located in southeastern Turkey, the find also includes a second piece depicting a human figure flanked by lions, an iconic Near Eastern cultural motif known as the Master and Animals which symbolizes the imposition of civilized order over the chaotic forces of the natural world.

The discovery offers a glimpse into the innovative character and cultural sophistication of the small Iron Age states that emerged in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the second millennium BCE. A similar gate was excavated by British archeologist Sir Leonard Woolley in 1911 at the royal Hittite city of Carchemish.

TAP is an international project involving researchers from a dozen countries and more than 20 universities and research institutes. In 2008 TAP also uncovered in Turkey a remarkably well-preserved monumental temple, thought to have been constructed during the time of King Solomon. Professor Harrison expects these and other exciting discoveries will ultimately shed new light on a “lost age” in history.

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