posted on Mar, 23 2013 @ 09:07 AM
The Temple of Ain Dara in Syria was first discoved when a large and very fine lion sculpture was found. Within the Temple are giant footsteps that
stand upon the portico and then stride into the interior of the Temple.
I'll look here at who the Temple was dedicated to, and what story lay behind the giant footprints...
Ain Dara Temple
Ain Dara lies near the Syro-Turkish border, about 40 miles northwest of Aleppo and a little more than 50 miles northeast of Tell Ta‘yinat.
The site is large, consisting of a main tell that rises 90 feet above the surrounding plain and an extensive lower city, which covers about 60 acres.
‘Ain Dara first attracted attention in 1955, with the chance discovery of a monumental basalt lion.
Although the site was occupied from the Chalcolithic period (fourth millennium B.C.E.) to the Ottoman period (1517–1917 C.E.), the temple is
undoubtedly the most spectacular discovery at the site. According to the excavator, Ali Abu Assaf, it existed for 550 years—from about 1300 B.C.E.
to 740 B.C.E.
The building was constructed in Phase 1, which lasted from 1300 B.C.E. to 1000 B.C.E. Oriented towards the southeast, the temple is rectangular
in plan, about 65 feet wide by 98 feet long. Built on a large raised platform, the temple consists essentially of three rooms: a niche-like portico,
or porch; an antechamber (sometimes called the pronaos); and a main hall (cella, or naos), which housed the innermost shrine (in Biblical terms the
debir, or holy of holies).
Ain Dara temple shares many features with Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Indeed, no other building excavated to date has as many features in
common with the Biblical description of the Jerusalem Temple. Most basically, both have essentially the same three-division, long-room plan:
At ‘Ain Dara, it is an entry portico, an antechamber and main chamber with screened-off shrine; in Solomon’s Temple, it is an entry portico
(’ulam), main hall (heikhal) and shrine, or holy of holies (debir). The only significant difference between the two is the inclusion of the
antechamber in the ‘Ain Dara plan. With this exception the two plans are almost identical.
Like Solomon’s Temple, the ‘Ain Dara temple was approached by a courtyard paved with flagstones. A large chalkstone basin used for
ceremonial purposes stood in this courtyard. (A large basin was also placed in the courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple [1 Kings 7:23–26].) At the far
end of the open courtyard, the temple stood on a 2.5-foot-high platform made of rubble and limestone and lined with basalt blocks engraved with lions,
sphinxes and other mythic creatures. A monumental staircase, flanked on each side by a sphinx and two lions, led up to the temple portico. The four
basalt steps, only three of which survive, were decorated with a carved guilloche pattern, which consists of interlacing curved lines. The building
itself was covered with rows of basalt reliefs of sphinxes, lions, mountain gods and large clawed creatures whose feet alone are preserved.
Three steps, decorated with a chainlike carving, lead up from the broad but shallow antechamber (it is 50 feet wide but only 25 feet deep) to the main
hall, which forms an almost perfect square (54.5 by 55 feet).
At the top of the stairs, a limestone slab serves as the threshold to the main chamber. Whoever was striding into the temple portico left a similarly
enormous right footprint on this threshold.
The distance between the two single footprints is about 30 feet. A stride of 30 feet would belong to a person (or goddess) about 65 feet tall.
The God then seems to have taken a very long left and then right stride to enter into the Temple
Representations of the Goddess of the Temple, Shaushka, a Hurrian variant of Ishtar don't really suggest she was of great proportion, so probably the
footprints were understood as of her consort a storm/mountain God.
Mythically, Shaushka was the daughter of the sky god Anu or the moon god Sin. In a number of texts the storm god Teshub was her brother, in
some her husband. She was usually accompanied by two female attendants, the musicians Ninatta and Kulitta.
Shaushka is interesting in that she uses her authority in matters of sexuality to mess around a little were she saw fit;
Texts describe Shaushka as similar to Ishtar, as an ambiguous goddess who supervised married love and harmonious relationships but,
unpredictably, could turn love into a dangerous endeavor. According to Hittite texts she was of ambiguous sex also and given to wearing the clothes of
both sexes. In addition, she could alter a person's sex. One ritual credited her with the ability to deprive men of "manliness and vitality," to
replace their bows and arrows with distaffs and spindles, and to dress them in women's clothes. From women she could take away motherhood and
The spouse of Shaushka was Teshub, a storm God and Atlas/Mountain type figure, and as i said, the footprints are probably his;
Shaushka and Ain Dara
Another personage depicted on the walls is a mountain god, who appears flanked by mythic animals. Certainly there were many mountain-range and
peak deities in the surrounding mountainous area. Some scholars have speculated that the 'Ain Dara mountain god was the spouse of the goddess. In
support of this suggestion, in the temple of the storm god at Aleppo, not far from 'Ain Dara, the stela of Shaushka stands next to that of a mountain
god as if they were spouses (Gonnella, Khayyata, and Kohlmeyer 2005: 101-102). At 'Ain Dara there are several images of this Atlas-like figure, a fact
which indicates that he was probably revered at the temple, perhaps as the goddess's spouse.
Indeed the interwoven serpentine patterns of Ain Dara could relate to the slaying of the chaos serpent by Teshub;
he Hittite Storm God was known as Tarhun ("The Conqueror") and he was equated with the earlier Hattian god Taru and Hurrian god Teshub, by
whose name this deity is commonly known. The Storm God killed Illuyanka, whose name simply means "serpent."
To a large extent then the Ain Dara Temple could be dedicated to the God Teshub and his slaying of the serpent of chaos, and his spouse Shaushka in
her warlike aspect.
Teshub and the Dragon
Order from Chaos...
edit on 23-3-2013 by Kantzveldt because: (no reason given)