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Hattuşa

Travel pictures from Turkey

by Dr. Günther Eichhorn


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Hattuşa is a fantastic site. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The earliest traces of settlement on the site is from the 6th millennium BCE. Before 2000 BCE the site was settled by the Hatti, the pre-Hittites. Around 1700 BCE, this city was destroyed, apparently by King Anitta from Kushar.

A generation later, a Hittite speaking king built Hattuşa. It became the capital of the Hittite Empire. At its peak, the city covered 1.8 km². The city was destroyed around 1200 BCE with the collapse of the Hittite Empire.

The city has several large temple complexes, and many fortifications, including a large city wall.

Nearby is Yazılıkaya, a sanctuary of Hattuşa. It has some marvelous reliefs carved in the rock walls.

The Hittites ruled a vast Empire in the Middle East. They conquered Babylon and challenged the Egyptian Pharaohs over 3000 years ago. There were a few mentions in the bible, but not much was known about them till Hattuşa was discovered in 1834. In 1905 excavations amazing works of art were excavated, but more importantly, the Hittite state archive was discovered. It was on cuneiform clay tablets and yielded history of the Hittite Empire.

The Hittites were an Indo-European people. They swept through Anatolia around 2000 BCE, conquering the Hatti, from which they borrowed their culture and name. They established Hattuşa as their capital. Over next millennium they enlarged and beautified the city. From about 1375 BCE to 1200 BCE, Hattuşa was the capital of a Hittite Empire that incorporated parts of Syria during its height.

The Hittites worshipped over a thousand different deities. Among the most important were Teshub, the Storm or Weather God, and Hepatu, the Sun Goddess. The Hittite archive tablets showed a structured society with over 200 laws. The death sentence was prescribed for bestiality, while thieves got off more lightly, provided they paid the victims compensation.

After 1250 BCE, the Hittite Empire declined, accelerated by the arrival of the Phrygians. Only the city-states of Syria remained, till they too were conquered by the Assyrians.

Hattuşa had several temple complexes, the largest one being the Great Temple. It was dedicated to two deities (it had two cult chambers). These were Teshub, the Storm God, and Sun Goddess Hepatu.

Several of the inscriptions were in Luvian hieroglyphs. They are a picture script, developed in Anatolia. Neither pictorially nor linguistically do they have anything to do with Egyptian hieroglyphs. These hieroglyphic tests are written in a technique known as boustrophedon, literally meaning "as the ox plows". The writing goes from left to right in one line, then continuing from right to left in the next line, etc. You can identify hieroglyphs in the picture that are mirror images in adjacent rows, because of this technique.

The highest and southern-most part of the city defenses is the rampart of Yerkapı. It has a postern, a tunnel through it and the Sphinx Gate on top of it. From the top you can follow the city wall for large distances.

There are two other major gates in the city wall, the King's Gate and the Lion's Gate. Both have imposing stone reliefs on large blocks on either side of the gates.

About 3 km (1.9 miles) from Hattuşa is Yazılıkaya a Hittite religious sanctuary. It has two rock galleries with impressive rock reliefs, one of them was the holiest religious sanctuaries of the Hittites.

This Hittite site was for me the most important site to see in Turkey. It was absolutely spectacular.

Hattuşa

view part hattuşaView of part of Hattuşa with the town of Boğazkale in the background. (766k) reconstruction city fortificationReconstruction of the city fortification. We know very well how it looked from clay models that were found on the site. (577k) close-up reconstructed cityClose-up of the reconstructed city wall. (495k) view over lowerView over the Lower City, with the Great Temple in the back. (801k) great temple lowerThe Great Temple in the Lower City. It is the larges building structure in Hattuşa and dates to about the 14th century BCE. (651k)
green stone probablyThe Green Stone. It probably has played a role in some cult, but we don't know which. (689k) threshold stonesThreshold stones. (759k) entrance great templeEntrance to the Great Temple Courtyard. (563k) inner court greatThe Inner Court of the Great Temple, with the altar in the back, right and the Stoa across the back. (608k) large stone waterA large stone water basin. (817k)
dowel holes foundationDowel holes in the foundation stones. All walls were of timber and mud brick construction and are long gone. The walls were fastened to the foundation stones with dowels. (822k) large in-ground storageLarge in-ground storage jars. The openings were about 60 cm (24 ") in diameter. (725k) remnant lion basinRemnant of the Lion Basin. Originally the basin had four lion heads on the four corners of the basin. (734k) spring grotto greatThe Spring Grotto near the Great Temple. Inscriptions indicate that it had religious significance. (635k) house slope two-storiedThe House on the Slope, a two-storied large building, probably with administrative function. (789k)
part north complexPart of the North Complex at Nişantaş. (768k) inscriptions luvian hieroglyphsInscriptions in Luvian hieroglyphs at Nişantaş, dating to Suppiluliuma. (870k) inscriptions luvian hieroglyphsInscriptions in Luvian hieroglyphs in Chamber 2. (651k) relief suppiluliuma iiRelief of Suppiluliuma II, the last of the well-known Great Kings of Hattuşa. (540k) yerkapı rampart exteriorThe Yerkapı rampart with the exterior gate of the postern, the tunnel through the rampart, at the bottom, and the Sphinx Gate on top. (639k)
view postern tunnelView through the postern, the tunnel through the Yerkapı rampart. (443k) stairs leading rampartStairs leading up the rampart of Yerkapı. (811k) sphinx gateThe Sphinx Gate. (547k) sphinxes sphinx gateOne of the Sphinxes of the Sphinx Gate. (588k) view city wallView of the City Wall from the Yerkapı rampart. (566k)
kızlar kaya orThe Kızlar Kaya or Maiden's Rock. (724k) cliffs sarıkale yellowThe cliffs of Sarıkale, the Yellow Fortress was capped by an extensive architectural complex in Hittite times. (429k) yenicekale on-going excavationsYenicekale, with on-going excavations. (686k) hittites always usedThe Hittites always used the natural formations together with their buildings like here on top of Sarıkale. (633k) kings gate reconstructionThe King's Gate, with the reconstruction of the famous warrior relief. Most likely it is the representation of a God. (593k)
kings gate backThe King's Gate from the back. (581k) lions gate backThe Lion's Gate from the back. (723k) lions lions gateOne of the lions on the Lion's Gate. (526k) closer view lionsCloser view of one of the lions on the Lion's Gate. (575k) surface lion lionsSurface of the lion on the Lion's Gate with intricate carvings. (581k)


Yazılıkaya

relief godRelief of a God. (548k) relief godRelief of a God. (507k) twelve hittite godsTwelve Hittite Gods of the Underworld. (843k) close-up gods largerClose-up of one of the Gods in the larger relief. (681k)


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