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Cylinder-seal from Arslantepe.

Melid (modern Arslantepe, near Malatyamarker, Turkeymarker) was a Hittite city at the Tohma River, the ancient name of a tributary of the upper Euphrates rising in the Taurus Mountainsmarker.


The site has been inhabited since the development of agriculture in the fertile crescent. It was called Maladiya, Melid, Milid or Meliddu by the ancient people. From the Bronze Age the site became an administrative center of a larger region in the kingdom of Isuwa. The city was heavily fortified, probably due to the Hittite threat from the west. The Hittites conquered the city in the fourteenth century BC. In the mid 14th century BC, Melid was the base of the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I on his campaign to sack the Mitanni capital Wassukanni.

After the end of the Hittite empire, from the 12th to 7th century BC, the city became the center of an independent Luwian Neo-Hittite state of Kammanu. A palace was built and monumental stone sculptures of lions and the ruler erected.

The encounter with the Assyrian king of Tiglath-Pileser I (1115-1077 BC) resulted in the kingdom of Melid being forced to pay tribute to Assyria. Melid continued to prosper however until the Assyrian king Sargon II (722-705 BC) sacked the city in 712 BC. At the same time the Cimmerians and Scythians invaded Anatoliamarker and the city declined.


Arslantepe was first investigated by the French archaeologist Louis Delaporte from 1932to 1939. From 1946 to 1951 Claude F.A. Schaeffer carried out some soundings.The first Italian excavations at the site of Arslantepe started in 1961, under the direction of Professors Piero Meriggi and Salvatore M. Puglisi. The choice of the site was initially due to their desire of investigating the Neo-Hittite phases of occupation at the site, period in which Malatya was the capital of one of the most important reigns born after the destruction of the Hittite Empire in its most eastern borders. Majestic remains of this period were known from Arslantepe since the 30s, brought to light by a French expedition. The Hittitologist Meriggi only took part of the first few campaigns and later left the direction to Puglisi, a palaeoethnologist, who expanded and regularly conducted yearly investigations under regular permit from the Turkish government. Alba Palmieri overtook the direction of the excavation during the 1970s. Today the archaeological investigation is led by Marcella Frangipane


  1. [1] Historical Dictionary of the Hittites, pp 185-186


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