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Ain Dara Neo-Hittite Temple

Ain Dara is located in northern Syria, about 65 km. northwest of Aleppo. In 1955 the discovery of a monumental basalt lion led to the excavation of Ain Dara. The temple is 30 by 20 meters in size and consists of three rooms; a small porch, a middle room and an inner room or main hall. The building was constructed and extended during the period between 1300 and 1000 BCE. During the ongoing conflict in Syria roughly half of the temple area has been reduced to ruble on January 26, 2018.

Turkish airstrikes against Kurdish forces have partially destroyed a 3,000-year-old temple in northern Syria, according to a monitoring group and the Syrian regime. 

The neo-Hittite temple of Ain Dara was built in around 1300 BC and is famous for its elaborate images of lions and sphinxes. 

The temple was at least 60 per cent destroyed by Turkish forces as they attacked the Kurdish-held area of Afrin, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said. 

Pictures posted online by the group appeared to show part of the temple had been reduced to rubble. 

The Syrian regime slammed Turkey for the cultural destruction, with the antiquities ministry saying: “This attack reflects the hatred and barbarism of the Turkish regime against the Syrian identity and against the past, present and future of the Syrian people.”

The Ain Dara temple, located near the village of Ain Dara, in Afrin, Syria is an Iron Age Syro-Hittite temple noted for its similarities to Solomon's Temple, also known as the First Temple, as described in the Hebrew Bible. According to the excavator Ali Abu Assaf, it was in existence from 1300 BC until 740 BC and remained "basically the same" during the period of the Solomonic Temple's construction (1000 - 900 BC) as it had been before, so that it predates the Solomonic Temple. The temples of Emar, Mumbaqat, and Ebla are also comparable. The surviving sculptures depict lions and sphinxes (comparable to the cherubim of the First Temple).

Massive footprints are carved into the floor; whether of gods or humans or animals is debatable. Also left to speculation is to whom the temple is dedicated. Ain Dara may have been devoted to Ishtar, goddess of fertility; or dedicated to the female goddess Astarte, or the deity Ba'al Hadad.

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