Comparisons of Northern Levantine Palaces: Temples, Entrances, and Staircases

I will focus my post this week on extrapolating and further exploring the sources of information and connection between ancient Aleppo, the capital of the Yamhad kingdom, and the nearby Bronze Age palatial sites in modern day Syria to develop artistic and architectural ideas about the hypothesized Palace at Aleppo. I will also use the excavation reports for the Temple of the Storm God in ancient Aleppo as influence for material, architectural style, religious influences, and historical context.

As I discussed in my last post, there is ample evidence that the palaces at Alalakh, Tilmen Hoyuk, and other Northern Levantine palaces may be used as ample evidence to suggest similar structure at Aleppo. I want to address the presence and importance of temples in the Middle Bronze Age Levant and the impact on surrounding elite structures. For example, excavations at Alalakh reveal that a temple was directly connected to the palace structure (see cella or interior chamber of Ishtar Temple on floor the plan). In an article concerning the temple at Aleppo, the archeologist writes, “The cult of the Storm-God of Aleppo was one of the most prominent and enduring of the Ancient Near East […] It is attested as important already in the Ebla tablets, where it enjoyed patronage of the kings of that city” (Hawkins 2011, 35). Although it is not evident that a palace was attached to the Temple of the Storm God from previous excavations, it is clear that the dioses played a significant role in Middle Bronze Age life. Therefore, I will place the palace at Aleppo in close proximity to the temple on the hill.

Temple showing cella connects to palace at Alalakh

On an architectural note, in an analysis of old Syrian palaces, the archeologist writes about similar architectural evidence particularly between Alalakh and Tilmen Hoyuk (Marchetti 2006). As seen in Figure 1 and 2, the one of the entrances to the palaces at these sites appear to be almost identically built and placed within the place.

Fig. 1 Entrance to Palace A at Tilmen Hoyuk.

Fig. 2 Entrance to level VII Palace at Alalakh.

In Figure 3 and 4, I have drawn pink arrows to indicate these entrances, followed by blue arrows that eventually lead into the throne rooms after a few doorways. Marchetti also notes the presence of staircase (yellow boxes) near the throne room to connect the main floor to the upper floor.

Palace at Alalakh highlighting entrance, movement to the throne room, and local staircase.

Tilmen Hoyuk Palace A highlighting entrance, movement to the throne room, and local staircase.

It is also important to not in Figure 3 the monumental stairway Indicated by the double arrow and the large monumental entrance to the throne rooms in both palaces as seen by the last blue arrows. (Marchetti 2006). I will use the proximity of monumental staircases, doorways and movement of these Northern Levantine palaces to create the plan for the palace at Aleppo. The use and location of stairways and doorways is an important aspect of palatial structure and impacts liminality and even division of power. The importance of these palatial aspects reminded me of out visit to the Providence Public Library.

Monumental Entrance to PPL

To enter the building, one must go through a rather grand entrance where they are met with another interior entrance door, followed by an entrance area containing a large marble staircase.

Monumental Staircase with secondary entrance door in the background

Then is opens to a large open space with satellite rooms and the library stacks in the back. The large wooden door that separates the stacks from the main room reminded me of the divisions in palaces especially large doorways entering the throne rooms.

Large door separating stacks from main open space

Additionally, it was interesting to hear that the public could not cross over to the stacks; the doorway was an essential liminal aspect in controlling the movement of people in the library.

Taken together, I can use these architectural aspects of doorways and staircases especially those found at Alalakh and Tilmen Hoyuk to craft an appropriate period palace at Aleppo near the Temple of the Storm God.

(Ana Malfa)


Hawkins, J. (2011). The inscriptions of the Aleppo temple. Anatolian Studies, 61, 35-54.

Marchetti, N. (2006) Middle Bronze Age Public Architecture at Tilmen Hoyük and the Architectural Tradition of Old Syrian Palaces. In F. Baffi, R. Dolce, S. Mazzoni and F. Pinnock (eds.) Ina Kibrat Erbetti, Studi di Archaeologia orientale dedicati a Paolo Matthiae. 275-308. Rome, Università La Sapienza.