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Til Barsib, Syria

The Lion Gate

page updated December 27, 2019

 Til Barsib - The Lion Gate

Fragment of the western lionAbout 620m northeast of the palace entrance, a portion of the enceinte wall is visible and was cleared by the original French excavation team. Near the center of this wall section, the excavators found a gateway, whose main doorway was originally flanked by basalt lions (a photograph of a portion of the western lion is at the left, courtesy of Guy Bunnens; hover over to enlarge). The western-most lion survives mostly intact and was found fallen onto its uncarved side; only fragments of the eastern lion remain. The lions seem to have originally stood on limestone bases.

view of the Lion Gate, from the Learning Sites 3D modelApproach to the Til Barsib Lion Gate; reconstructed by Learning Sites based on the French excavations and sketches and suggestions by Guy Bunnens (hover over to enlarge).

plan of the Lion GateThe gateway probably had three successive central doorways, similar to the entryways at Arslan Tash and Zinjirli, according to the excavators. A stone pavement was found outside the gateway, both in front and in back of the entry passage and inside. Inside the first space (as one approaches the gate from outside the walls), what appears to be a sentry room opens to the southeast Plan of the Lion Gate area (at the left is Plan E from Thureau-Dangin, F. & Maurice Dunand. Til-Barsib; hover over to enlarge).

The rest of the fortification wall had a foundation of stones and superstructure of mudbrick (each about 37cm square and 11cm thick) set in clay mortar. At 90cm above the foundation was a bed of small pebbles, which seems to occur at 90cm intervals. There is no indication of the full height of the wall or how it might have been capped or decorated at the top.

view from inside the city toward the Lion GateAt left (hover over the image to enlarge) is a view from inside the city back toward the Lion Gate. There is a wayside stela set up by the Assyrian king Esarhaddon in the foreground, a small marketplace that grew up inside the gate, and the gatekeeper's house at the right (he collected tolls and fees and oversaw the guarding and protection of the gate).