Hattusa

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Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas) was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age. Its ruins lie near modern Boğazkale, Turkey, within the great loop of the Kızılırmak River (Hittite: Marashantiya; Greek: Halys).

Overview

Before 2000 BCE, the apparently indigenous Hattian people established a settlement on sites that had been occupied even earlier and referred to the site as Hattush. The Hattians built their initial settlement on the high ridge of Büyükkale.

The earliest traces of settlement on the site are from the sixth millennium BCE. In the 19th and 18th centuries BCE, merchants from Assur in Assyria established a trading post there, setting up in their own separate quarter of the city. The center of their trade network was located in Kanesh (Neša) (modern Kültepe). Business dealings required record-keeping: the trade network from Assur introduced writing to Hattusa, in the form of cuneiform.

Notable Structures

circa 3100–2100 BCE

Royal Precinct
Today known as Büyükkale, the eastern fortress or the royal palace was the residence of the Hittite kings. The acropolis or the plateau forms the highest point of the old city of Hattusa with a splendid view over the city and the valley to the north. The earliest traces of settlement go back to the early Bronze Age. Most of the buildings visible today belong to the monumental rebuilding phase, which included a renewal of the castle fortifications during the thirteenth century BCE. A sophisticated system of colonnaded courtyards, archives, residential quarters, cultic structures and an audience hall cover the entire acropolis. Access to the plateau was through a viaduct starting at the Nisantepe.

circa 1500 BCE

Fortification Walls
At its peak, the city covered 1.8 square kilometers and comprised an inner and outer portion, both surrounded by a massive and still visible course of walls erected during the reign of Suppiluliuma I (circa 1344–1322 BCE). The city featured over 6 kilometers of walls, with inner and outer skins around 3 meters of thick and 2 meters of space between them, adding 8 meters of the total thickness. Outside the walls are cemeteries, most of which contain cremation burials. The walls were erected using the natural shape of the terrain or completely changing it, depending on the architectural and strategic needs.

circa 1500 BCE

Lions' Gate
The capital of the Hittites - Hattusa - was surrounded by massive fortifications (inspect) when the Hittite civilization had a status of the Near East superpower. At least six gates let people enter the interior of the city. The Lions Gate is similar to the construction techniques seem in Mycenaean Greece, in particular, to another Lion Gate - the one at the entrance to the city of Mycenae.

circa 1500 BCE

Sphinx Gate
The inner doorway, known as the Sphinx Gate was adorned with sphinxes that were almost three dimensional, not only the front of their bodies looking towards the city but also with high wings on the sides and long upright tails. Only one original Sphinx is still in place while two others are kept in the local museum. All four door jambs of the gate bore representations of Sphinxes.

circa 1500 BCE

King's Gate
The King's Gate (tr. Kral Kapısı) is situated in the south-eastern part of Hattusa city walls. It is worth the attention of visitors especially because of its excellent state of preservation. Its shape and size are similar to the Lion Gate in the south-western part of the fortifications. The gate is flanked by two towers, and there are two parabolic-shaped door passages: external and internal.

circa 1300 BCE

Great Temple
The Great Temple of Hattusa, also known as Temple 1, is one of the prominent structures within the archaeological site of Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Empire. The Great Temple is situated in the southwestern part of the lower city of Hattusa, near the city center and the Hittite Palace. The temple dates back to the Late Bronze Age, around the 13th century BCE, during the Hittite Empire's peak. The temple exhibits typical Hittite architectural features. It consists of a central sanctuary surrounded by various annexes and auxiliary structures. The exact religious or ceremonial purpose of the Great Temple is not fully understood. However, it is believed to have served as a major religious center for the Hittites, possibly dedicated to one or more deities.

The temple complex and the associated structures were situated in the center of the complex, completely isolated from the outside. The temple complex has a well-defined layout, with a central main hall or sanctuary and several rooms and chambers around it. The structure is aligned with a courtyard. The Hittites were known for their polytheistic religious beliefs, and the Great Temple likely played a crucial role in their religious practices. The Storm God, a central deity in Hittite religion, might have been worshipped in the temple.

circa 700 BCE

Southern Fortress
The southern fortress Güney Kale, was a small fort erected by the Phrygians near the end of the seventh century BCE. It was constructed several centuries after the collapse of the Hittite empire, during a period when a large scale settlement is believed to have been established over the ruins of previous constructions. Around the same time, Phrygians also refortified the former Hittite citadel on the Büyükkale hill which was located east of the valley. Apparently, local landlords were concerned with the protection of their subject's lives and possessions, since both fortresses were concerned with the protection of their subject's lives and possessions, since both fortresses were capable of sheltering the people living nearby for ,at least, a short span of time. The path leading up in to the fort passes by the foundation walls of Phrygian buildings and ends in front of a Hittite cult chamber which was preserved under the Phrygian fortress wall.

circa

Lower City
The area stretching from the slope below the royal citadel or the royal precint, today called Büyükkale, down to the valley is known as the lower city of Hattusa. In this part of the settlement the predecessors of the Hittites, the Hattians (an indigenous people of the region) had settled as early as the end of the third millennium BCE. At the beginning of the second millennium BCE there has been a colony of Assyrian merchants here as well. Hittite residential quarters have so far been excavated in the north and north-west of the lower city area. These surround the monumental temple complex, which was entered through the gate. The entry led through a wide paved street flanked by storeromms and past a water basin, which like the lion basin along the approach outside, had a role in cult rituals. The lion basin was originally carved from a single block of limestone. Both narrow sides are decorated with two lion heads.

The Biblical Hittites

Hittites, a civilization forgotten for more than 3,000 years, until stunning archaeological discoveries mark its rebirth. In 1876, Archibald Henry gave a groundbreaking speach to the Society of Biblical Archaeology in London. He claimed he had established a connection among all the monuments and was able to partially decipher one of the stone reliefs. He argued that the inscriptions belonged to the Hittites. Once thought to be a Biblical fable, was now being unwrapped as a fact.

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See Also

References

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