Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum

Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum

Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum is an open-air museum in Osmaniye province. Karatepe (black hill) is the location and Aslantaş (lion stone) is a lion figure on stone sculptures at the site, which are inside of national park.

Karatepe is on the historic "Akyol" caravan trail, a route that connects Cilicia with Central Anatolia over Andırın-Göksün. The Hittites and crusaders used this route; it is still traveled by the Yörüks (Nomads).

Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum

The remains of an ancient fortress date back to the 8th century BC and were originally named Azatiwadaya. Built by Azatiwada, the king of Quwe, this walled settlement had been established for defensive purposes against invaders from the north. It was conquered by Assyrian Empire in 720-725 BC or 680 BC.

The ruined inner and outer walls of the fortress are 4–6 m (13–20 ft) high and 2–4 m (6.5-13.1 ft) thick. The inside of the double stone walls were filled with rubble and soil, but have since been fortified at 18-20 m interval with 34 rectangular bastions in total, out of which only 28 could come to be identified today.

The fortress has two gates, one in the southwest and the other in the northeast. The southwestern gate features two lion stone statues and reliefs on basalt stone depicting faith and lifestyle. The Karatepe Bilingual is positioned at this gate featuring text in ancient Phoenician written with hieroglyphs. Within its walls there is also a statue of Bes as well as a much larger and more extravagant statue of Baal, the god of thunder.

At the northeastern divergence, a sphinx (a mythical creature consisting of human and lion features) is present. On either side are various reliefs and inscriptions. One inscription reads "Karatepe Bilingual" which enabled ancient Anatolian hieroglyphics to be decoded by using Phoenician-based lettering system that goes back to 20th century BC.

Atop the hill, there are two burnt-out buildings. One of them is thought to have been a palace. A museum displaying artifacts was built on-site and only small items were taken inside for display.