Arslantepe Höyüğü

Southeastern Anatolia

The settlement mound of Arslantepe (also called Aslantepe) rises 30m over the surrounding green fields of the tiny village of Orduzu, 5km northeast of Malatya. This 200m-long mound may not look like much but it was here, in the 4th millennium BC, that one of the world's earliest state systems developed.

The mound's main feature is an excavated 4th-millennium-BC palace-and-temple area of mud-brick walls with some surviving wall paintings. Afterwards, climb to the top of the mound for expansive views.

The mound is composed of multiple layers of human settlement stretching from around 4300 BC to AD 400 and although the different superimposed layers within the mound make for a complicated archaeological puzzle, plentiful information panels in English, Italian and Turkish help explain what you're looking at. A wonderful free audio guide (available at the entry office) also does an excellent job of telling the story of the site.

At the site entrance stand replicas of 12th-century BC statues of the neo-Hittite king Tarhunza and two lions; the originals have survived and are now in Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilisations.

The settlement's Hittite name in the 2nd millennium BC, Malitiya (Honey Place), lives on in the name of nearby Malatya.

To get to Arslantepe, catch any bus marked Orduzu (₺5 return, 15 minutes) from the large bus stand at the southern side of Buhara Bulvarı near the junction with Dişbudak Sokağı in Malatya. Orduzu buses start their run from here so head to the far eastern end of the bus stand where the stationary buses are waiting. No 400 heads as far as Orduzu's main bus stand beside the village mosque and the signposted turn-off for Arslantepe. It's a 200m walk from there. Nos 401 and 403 pass the site entrance. Buses leave at least every 30 minutes from 6am to 8pm.

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