HATTUSA & HITTIES

To the east of Ankara lies Hattuşa, the ancient capital of the Hittite Empire, dating from the fourteenth century BCE.  The Hittites commanded a vast Middle Eastern empire, conquered Babylon, and challenged the Egyptian pharaohs more than three thousand years ago.  Yet there were few clues to their existence until 1834, when a French traveler, Charles Texier, stumbled across the ruins of Hattuşa near Boğazkale.  In 1905, excavations uncovered notable works of art, most of them now in Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilizations.  Also brought to light were the Hittite state archives, written in cuneiform on thousands of clay tablets.  From these tablets, historians and archaeologists were able to construct a history of the Hittite Empire.

Hattuşa was once a busy and impressive city, defended by stonewalls over six kilometers long.  Today the ruins of Hattuşa include several large temple complexes, fortifications, and that impressive city wall.  The absolute highlight is the Great Temple, dedicated to two deities:  Teshub (the God of the Storm God) and Hepatu (the Goddess of the Sun).  Walk along the rampart of Yerkapı to get a sense of the sheer size of the city.  The two other main gates in the city wall are the King’s and Lion’s.  Many stone reliefs are visible on large blocks on either side of each gate.

About 3 kilometers from Hattuşa, Yazılıkaya (literally, “inscribed rock”) was an ancient Hittite religious sanctuary and, as the name suggests, consists of two large rock galleries with impressive reliefs, one of them forming the holiest religious site among the Hittites.

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