Ivriz Cultural Landscape
The Ivriz Cultural Landscape includes in situ two large Neo-Hittite rock reliefs, and a small Neo-Hittite altar, as well as a monastery dating to the Middle Byzantine Period, two caves and natural features such as springs. The site was used as a frontier marker, and as a religious and cultic area over a long span of time from the Late Bronze Age (1650-1200 BC), through Iron Age (1200-650 BC) and down to the Middle - Late Byzantine period (843-1543 AD). Mentioned as DKASKAL.KUR in the Late Bronze Age by the Hittites, it was an important frontier marker and later in the Iron Age it became an important water cult sanctuary and this continued into the Byzantine Period where the site was used again as a religious setting for an important monastery.
Ivriz village is located 170 km south-east of the city of Konya, 2.9 km south of the provincial town of Halkapınar. The village is settled on the slopes of the Mount Bolkar, which is the middle part of the Taurus Mountain range. The village is also placed in the south-east of the Konya plain, and right next to the wetlands and the streams created by the Ivriz Creek.
Ivriz village represents all the elements of an integrated landscape, including springs, nature and an active rural life style which is important for continuing socio-cultural heritage. Ivriz village, with unique examples of civil architecture of mud brick structures has continued its rural character.
The village has retained a special atmosphere in all seasons due to its rich landscape and water resources. In the village, water springs bubble up from the carstic structure of the ground. Still today, the water flows around May until August, which seems like a natural miracle to the visitors. The amount of the water and energy of the springs depends on the yearly snowfall and snowmelt in the Taurus Mountains. The springs were also recognized by the Hittites, who refer to it as DKASKAL.KUR in relation to the Mountain Sarlaimmi (Bolkar Mountains) in a treaty which is describing the frontiers of Hatti and Tarhuntassa.
In the 8th century BC a local king of a Neo-Hittite kingdom (Warpalawas of Tuwanuwa) carved a rock relief and erected several inscribed steles in Luwian hieroglyphic script and a sculpture of himself next to these springs. The Neo-Hittite rock relief of the 8th century BC is also known as the Ivriz rock relief.
The relief is approximately 4.2 m. tall and 2.40 m. wide, and carved on a hillside of one of the rock outcrops. It depicts Warpalawas, king of Tuwanuwa, together with the Luwian weather god Tarhunzas, which can be identified through the inscriptions on the relief. The relief has three inscriptions. One in front of the head of the weather god, one behind the king and one down at the bottom located in a small cavity, where a dedication of the artist is written. In the centre of the relief, the weather god, who holds a wheat bundle with his left hand and grapes with the other, is demonstrated. He carries also grapes and grape leaves on his belt, symbolizing the fertility of the valley. Behind him is the branch of a grape plant. Tarhunzas has a beard and curly hair. He wears a helmet with horns, which is the typical symbol for Hittite deities. His hair and beard are depicted in the Assyrian or Aramaean style. Warpalawas is standing in front of Tarhunzas, he is depicted smaller than the deity and is holding both of his hands up. He wears a round decorated hat and a long embroidered robe which is attached with a fibula. His hair and beard are made in the same style as the deity. Originally there was a spring in front of this relief; however, today the water of this area is collected through basins and channels of the Ivriz water dam.
Around 200 m east of the relief, a rectangular basin is carved into the rock with steps leading down to it. Below this basin was a small rock relief of a Hittite officer, who is taking a ram or sheep (?) to the basin - the altar - to be sacrificed. In front of the officer, was a second person, where only the edge of the skirt is preserved. Because of serious damages, this relief was removed and was transported to the Ereğli Museum. Around 50 m south of this small altar is a water cave, where the water bubbles from the ground during a certain period every year. Local people still get their drinking water from here. In the close vicinity of the relief three stele fragments with Luwian inscription, a part of a colossal sculpture of a king and the lower part of a stele with a bilingual (Phoenician and Luwian) inscription and the depiction of the lower part of the weather god were discovered. These are all indicators that this was not only a frontier marker but also a water sanctuary.
A second Neo-Hittite rock relief is located on a rock outcrop 7 km south of Ivriz Village in a dried out river bed in a narrow valley of the Taurus Mountains. This location is also known as Ambarderesi. Across this rock relief is a Byzantine Monastery, the Sannabadae Monastery (known locally also as Kızlar Oğlanlar Sarayı, Palace of Girls and Boys). The monastery complex extends on both sides of the narrow valley. During the Konya Ereğli Survey Project (KEYAR), this area was surveyed by Assist. Prof. Çiğdem Maner (Koç University). In 2015, a fragment of an inscribed stele with Luwian hieroglyphs was found in the vicinity, which is very important, because it indicated that inscribed steles were also located in front of the relief in Ambarderesi, and that this is part of a large water sanctuary.
The iconography of the relief in Ambarderesi is very similar to the Ivriz Relief, however compared to the Ivriz relief it has been exposed to much severe weather conditions. In addition to symbolism of manifestation of power and cult, this iconography is also a symbol of fertility. The Halkapınar and Ereğli region are still famous for their grapes today.
The Hittites carved reliefs at important gateways and on roads, which connected districts with each other. It can be inferred from the site’s being mentioned in the Hittite treaty that, it had been an important frontier marker and a religious centre already then.
The picture program of the reliefs follows the tradition of the Hittites, which depicted the king with the deity accompanied with inscriptions. This form of depiction is generally accepted as a symbol and manifestation of power of the king through the gods. The picture program of the two Neo-Hittite reliefs is almost identical, the major difference is that the relief in Ambarderesi does not have inscriptions. Since the iconography of Warpalawas and Tarhunzas resembles that on the main relief, it can be assumed that this relief dates to the same time period.