North Gate

Karatepe is situated in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains, on the west bank of the Ceyhan River in the northeast corner of the Cilician Plain. It is a single-period, hilltop fortress that was built by a local ruler named Azatiwata at the end of the 8th century BC. He was a dependent of Wariku/Awariku, king of Que, whose capital was at Adana.


The fortress enclosed an area 1,230 feet by 640 feet (375 x 195 m). The defenses consisted of a polygonal wall and two gate complexes, one on the north and one on the south. Both complexes consisted of towers, basalt lion and sphinx sculptures, gate chambers, and basalt orthostats with reliefs and inscriptions.

Orthostat Reliefs

The gate complexes were decorated with orthostat reliefs that contain scenes of hunts and banquets. They depict musicians, acrobats, a ship, a chariot, warriors, deities, a mother nursing a child, animals, processions of offering bearers, and individuals bringing sacrifices.


A bilingual text in Phoenician and Hieroglyphic Luwian was carved into both the north and south gate complexes. A statue of the storm god is inscribed in Phoenician only. All five inscriptions are essentially identical versions of the same text. These inscriptions represent the longest extant Phoenician inscription and the longest extant Hieroglyphic Luwian inscription. Because it is a bilingual text, the inscriptions made a considerable contribution to the decipherment of Hieroglyphic Luwian.

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Related Websites

See also Ararat-Urartu, Carchemish, Haran, Hattusha, and Nemrut Dag.

Karatepe (Wikipedia). Encyclopedia entry on Karatepe.

Azitawataya (Livius). Provides some historical information as well as photos of reliefs found at the site.

Karatepe (Turkish Cultural Foundation). Summarizes the site’s history and finds, illustrating with a few photos.

Karatepe (Monuments of the Hittites). Provides an archaeological summary of the site along with photos of the sculptures and a translation of the inscription.

Karatepe pictures – Hittite pictures (Dick Osseman). Gallery of photographs.

Karatepe (Turkish Archaeological News). This longer article has plenty of information as well as an extensive gallery of photos.