At the Nurdağı-İslahiye junction, our route heads southwest to the remains of the ancient Hittite Kingdom of Sam’al.
The Zincirli (Sam’al) ruins lie 12 km to the southwest of Nurdağı on the höyük (tumulus) found right in the middle of the village of Zincirli. Archaeological excavations are in progress at the tumulus and there are currently 7 open trenches.
It is thought that the Zincirli ruins were at the centre of one of the Late Hittite Kingdoms. A sphinx which came from the Yesemek Sculpture Workshop lies full-length amongst the flowers in the excavation trench of the tumulus.
ZİNCİRLİ (SAM’AL) RUINS
The remains found at the village of Zincirli belong to a city and castle from the ancient kingdom of Sam’al. The city was established as the centre of one of the Late Hittite Kingdoms after the disintegration of the Hittite Empire at the beginning of the 12th century BC. It came under the rule of the Arami in 920 BC, then later, in 742 BC, it became a state linked to Assyria and finally, in 725 BC, the city became part of the Assyrian Empire.
Excavations at Zincirli have revealed the palaces of Sam’al, an acropolis, which held many of the city’s important buildings, and the external city walls. It has emerged that the city walls were first constructed around the city in 1300 BC. Excavation of the walled castle section of the settlement, which had 3 points of entry, also revealed the remains of a palace. Apart from the many statues that have been found during the excavations, numerous stelae, particularly with relief ornamentation, and orthostats have also been uncovered. Two of the orthostats, dating form the time of King Barrakab, are now displayed in the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul, and the others are in the Berlin Museum. These artefacts are wonderful examples of Late Hittite artwork, from the period 9th-7th century BC.