The Ottawa archeologist is working on one of the world’s richest digs: 100,000 artifacts a year emerge from Tel Tayinat. But the shards, bits of gold, even the monumental palace and temple, only hint of the power and complexity that this ancient city once held.
Every day, the puzzle for Batiuk and his 30 or so colleagues in the University of Toronto team is the same: who were these people? How did they think? Who came through as traders, and who came waging war? Most intriguing: why did they simply walk away one day and vanish into history?
“Here we have this kingdom that sort of emerges out of nowhere,” says Batiuk, 36. “So we are looking at how people come in from the Greek world, indigenous people, people from central Anatolia, further east … how it all sort of coalesces into this new kingdom.
“We are looking at early multiculturalism, to borrow a Canadian term, how art and written language got going. The temple can give us an idea of how religion played a role in forming national identity.”