Issus (town)

Photo Marco Prins.

A Medieval comb with a lion.

The port of Issus, or Izziya as the Hittites called it, or Kinet Höyük as it is called today, would have been completely forgotten, if the Macedonian king Alexander the Great had not defeated the Persian king Darius III Codomannus on the plain immediately south of it on 5 or 6 November 333 BCE.

Without that famous battle, the twenty-six meter high mound would have been like any other Bronze and Iron Age settlement in greater Syria: inhabited since the Late Neolithic, several strata, normal houses made of mud brick, countless household items, and statuettes of that ubiquitous naked goddess holding her breasts, which have been found in Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Hellenistic contexts.

To be honest, the site isn’t worth a detour,  but the objects are on display in the Archaeological Museum of Antioch, with some excellent explanatory signs. I hope to put online photos of the battle site soon; for the moment, the old page is here.

3 Responses to Issus (town)

  1. judithweingarten says:


    Can you tell me something abut the ‘comb with a cat’: date, provenance, material ?

  2. ibhahn says:

    That reminds me of the mnemonic I grew up with:

    Drei, drei, drei, bei Issus große Keilerei!


  3. judithweingarten says:

    Got it! Through Ron Passchier:

    Dear Judith,

    As a friend of Kim Duistermaat I saw the comments on the picture from Kinet Hoyuk and as I am very interested in these things, I made an inquiry with Prof. Marie-Henriette Gates of Bilkent Univ., who has been working nearly 20 years on this site. Her answer to my question what the picture represents was:

    “Although the animal on this comb (ivory, by the way) looks like a cat, it
    in fact intends to represent a lion, with mane and tufted tail. The comb
    is medieval, 12th-14th c AD, and probably Crusader. The fragmentary motif on the left is a cross inscribed in a circle. This type of comb, with
    lion(s) and cross, is apparently widespread, and referred to as an
    “ecclesiastical comb.”

    I say “apparently widespread” because I am merely repeating what the
    medieval archaeologist (S.N. Redford) who oversees that phase at Kinet has told me.”

    So Kim was right ! I thought it was Persian (Sassanid).

    Best wishes,

    Ron Passchier

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