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THE ROYAL PALACE OF QATNA


The Royal Palace of Qatna was erected in the centre of the city on a natural cliff overlooking the northern Lower City. The Palace, which during the second millennium BC was the residence of the powerful rulers of the Kingdom of Qatna, was built between 1650 and 1550 BC and destroyed around 1340 BC at the time of the Hittite conquest of Syria.

 

Qatna’s Royal Palace is one of the largest and most monumental palaces of ancient Syria with over 80 rooms on the floor level. The main entrance was from the west. From here, Room AS gave access to the central representative and ceremonial tract of the Royal Palace, with the large Audience hall (Hall C) and the two monumental reception rooms with political and ceremonial functions (Halls A-B). A large well (Room U) was situated in the northwestern part of the palace, close to a bathroom (Room F) and a room with wall paintings (Room N). The residential part of the palace was located around courtyard BM and Room T, whilst a storage wing was brought to light to the east of Hall A (Rooms Y to Z).

 

To the northeast of Throne Room A, a staircase led to an upper storey which probably occupied the northeastern sector of the building. From Hall A, a corridor (Room AQ) gave access to the Royal Grave chambers below the palace (area KG). Finally, during the Late Bronze Age I, an annex (Rooms CF to CO) was added at the southeastern corner of the palace.

 

The Royal Palace was discovered by the French archaeologist Robert Du Mesnil du Buisson between 1924 and 1929 and has been re-excavated since 1999 by the Syrian-Italian-German Mission. The German team excavates in Operation G, located in the western and northern parts of the palace. Here, the western entrance wing of the building, the Audience Hall (Hall C), a reception room (Hall B), the well (Room U), the corridor (AQ) leading to the Royal Graves and courtyard BM were situated. The Italian team works in Operation H, in the eastern part of the royal building, which includes the Throne Room (Hall A) and the eastern service wing of the palace, whilst the Syrian team investigates the southern part of Hall A and the earlier occupation levels below it.




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