Arslantepe lies at the crossroads of the main civilizations of the Near East in Malatya, 7 km away from the city centre and 15 km away from the Euphrates right bank. The name of Arslantepe is derived from the lion (“Arslan” in Turkish) statues excavated at the location. It is known that the site was inhabited since the Chalcolithic Age. It was an important Hittite settlement during all ages of the Hittite period and later became a major site as a Neo-Hittite city state. Afterward, the area was inhabited by the Romans until the 5th to 6th centuries A.D. and used as a necropolis by the Byzantines until 11th century.

Arslantepe was first excavated from 1932 to 1939 by the French archaeologist Louis Delaporte. The excavation was carried out in the late Hittite layer and a late Hittite Palace was discovered. From 1946 to 1951, Claude F.A. Schaeffer made some probes into the site. The Italian Archaeological Expedition of the Sapienza University of Rome has carried out extensive excavations for more than 50 years. The first Italian excavations at the site of Arslantepe started in 1961, and were conducted under the direction of Professors Piero Meriggi and Salvatore M. Puglisi until 1968. They brought to light rich materials of the many civilizations superimposed in the site. Alba Palmieri took over the supervision of the excavation during the 1970s. Today their archaeological investigation is led by Marcella Frangipane. The palace and area in Arslantepe is currently open to the public as an Open Air Museum. Over 4,000 archaeological objects have been restored and exhibited in the Malatya Museum as well as the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.