Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum

Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum

The Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum is an outdoor museum situated in Osmaniye province, Turkey. The museum is located at Karatepe (meaning black hill) and contains stone sculptures with lion figures known as Aslantaş (meaning lion stone). The site is within a national park.

Karatepe is located on the ancient "Akyol" caravan trail that connected Cilicia with Central Anatolia, traversing Andırın-Göksün. This route was used by the Hittites, Crusaders, and is still used by the Yörüks (Nomads).

Karatepe-Aslantaş Open-Air Museum

The ruins of an ancient fortress are found here, dating back to the 8th century BC and originally named Azatiwadaya. Azatiwada, the king of Quwe, built this walled settlement for defensive purposes against invaders from the north. The Assyrian Empire conquered it in 720-725 BC or 680 BC.

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

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

At the northeastern divergence, there is a sphinx with various reliefs and inscriptions on either side. One inscription reads "Karatepe Bilingual," which helped decode ancient Anatolian hieroglyphics using a Phoenician-based lettering system dating back to the 20th century BC.

Two burnt-out buildings are situated atop the hill, with one thought to be a palace. A museum displaying artifacts was built on-site, with only small items taken inside for display.