By: Tamar Zedelashvili
July 8, 2019
If you travel 150 km to the east of Ankara, you will discover Hattusha – the ancient capital of the Hittites. The archeological site is remarkable for its urban organization, different types of construction techniques, rich ornamentation and the ensemble of rock art.
Hattusha is located in the province called Corum which is also known as a Geographical center of Earth. Corum combines two regions of Turkey - Black Sea and Central Anatolia and is the right spot for those interested in history and archaeology. Corum has exceptional nature which is a mixture of mountains and high plateaus, some of it watered by the Kizilirmak and Yesilirmak rivers. While Corum is the settlement for ancient Hittites, it also offers beautiful architectural works from more recent periods. The 13th century Ulu Mosque and 19th century clock tower are frequent tourist destinations. Corum today is a lovely modern province with rich natural, cultural and economic resources. The region is mostly famous for leblebi - delicious roasted chickpeas.
Since you already know about Corum, we can now talk about Hatttusha, the capital of Hittites. Who were the Hittites? They were an ancient civilization who ruled in Anatolia between 1600 and 1200 B.C. Hittite Kingdom and the Hittites were forgotten in the Hellenistic era and the discovery of Hattusha is relatively recent. In 1906, Marcidy Bey from Istanbul Archeological Museum and Hugo Wickler, a German specialist in Assyrian culture started the first systematic archeological excavations at the site. These excavations found hundreds of clay tablets written in Akkadian and the Hittite language which were not known at that time. Tablets were important in providing information about the Hittite way of life. They included contracts, legal codes, procedures for cult ceremony and even the peace treaty between Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II and Hittite King Hattushili III. The study of cuneiform tablets of Hattusha led to the birth of Hittology as a discipline and the tablets are now kept in Ankara and Istanbul archeological museums. These excavations also revealed that the Hittites migrated to this region between the 18th and 19th century B.C. and established their first capital in 17th century B.C. Settlements around the site started as early as 6000 B.C.
Yazilikaya, the twelve deities in the small gallery of the Open Air Temple
What is the architecture of the city? The city is surrounded by a monumental wall which is eight km in length and has five gates: two in the west, the Lion Gate in the south-west, the King Gate in the south-east and the Sphinx Gate in the south of the city. The whole city consists of four parts: Hittite city area, the rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya, the ruins of Kayali Bogaz and the Ibikcam Forest.
You might be wondering what makes Hattusha so special to be protected by Unesco?
The city’s fortifications along with the Lion’s Gate and Royal Gate and Yazilikaya’s rupestrian ensemble together with its sculptured friezes represent unique artistic achievements as monuments.
Hattusha exerted dominating influence upon the civilizations in Anatolia and northern Syria in 1st and 2nd millennia B.C.
The palaces, temples, necropolis and trading quarters of this political and religious metropolis provides a holistic picture of Hittite capital and bears unique testimony of an extinct civilization.
Ancient buildings are perfectly preserved in Hattusha: the royal residence, multiple fortresses and the Great temple constructed in the 13th century B.C.
The King Gate
The Lion Gate
This unique archeological site in Turkey, whose importance is universally recognized, will help to strengthen the credibility and representativeness of the List of the cultural properties of humankind.