For anyone who’s been to Herculaneum, Italy and seen the amazingly preserved buildings, the beautiful frescoes, grafitti on the walls, you’d easily think ‘Nothing can get better than this’. Especially since it’s tied up with sudden massive diabolical destruction. It has history and drama wrapped up. This was 79AD. You can walk the streets almost like they were almost 2000 years ago.
You’d only think ‘Nothing can get better than this’, if you’ve never been to Arslantepe on the banks of the Euphrates River, Turkey.
It may sound crazy, but Arslantepe has been inhabited since the development of agriculture on the fertile crescent nearly 6,000 years ago. More than that, you can still walk through the city gates and see the mud-brick rooms, walls and decoration from 5,000 years ago. That’s 2,000 years earlier than the earliest pyramids in Egypt! And it’s still standing!
It’s mental that it’s so perfectly preserved, so incredible that you can walk the hallways of ancient temples and it’s all still there having been buried under successive generations of mud brick building.
It’s the sheer scale of time that is hard to fathom and how well everything is preserved. Like Herculaneum, it was also suddenly destroyed by a massive inferno as their systems broke down and were overrun which has helped keep the place intact. Later generations built on the mound as you can see, here’s me standing with some replica statues that give the place its name of Lion Hill.
Best of all, it’s deserted. There’s not thousands of tourists clammering over the place, so you’re more than likely to have this amazing piece of history all to yourself. From an art point of view, I love their triangular aesthetic, shown in the top photo and this photo below. Great abstracted men and beasts. Artwork that’s remained for over 5,000 years. Can any of us hope our art could possibly endure this long?