Yazılıkaya (“Inscribed Rock”) is a Hittite rock sanctuary located about 1.5 kilometres northeast of Hattusa, the capital city of the Hittite Empire. It is the largest known Hittite rock monument. The sanctuary consisted of a temple-like building and two open-air chambers cut into the bedrock.
Coordinates: 40° 1′ 30″ N, 34° 37′ 58″ E
The Yazılıkaya sanctuary served as a place for the celebration of the arrival of the New Year each spring. These ceremonies took place in the open air in front of the Hittite Pantheon. The sanctuary was made of two rock chambers, later labelled Chamber A and Chamber B by archeologists. The walls of each chamber were covered with the richest and most striking samples of Hittite relief art. They featured gods and goddesses and the figures of the Great King Tudhaliya IV (ca. 1237 – 1209 BC). There are a total of 83 images, 66 in the Chamber A and 17 in Chamber B.
Human activity on the site probably began in the 16th century BC, although what we see today is probably the result of modifications made in the late 13th century BC, not long before the Hittite Empire began its steep and mysterious decline.
Chamber A, the largest of two chambers, is 30 metres long and about 20 metres wide. Its walls are almost entirely decorated with reliefs running horizontally. The deities are aligned in two rows, perhaps in procession, with male figures on the left wall (with two female attendants) and female figures on the right wall. The name of each deity is given in Luwian hieroglyphs above their raised hands but due to natural deterioration some parts of these names have disappeared. These two rows are directed towards the main scene in the middle where the Storm God Teshup and the Sun Goddess Hepat meet.
Chamber B is accessible via a narrow passage with winged demons on the both sides. It is believe that Chamber B was built as a memorial chapel for Tudhaliya IV, dedicated by his son Suppiluliuma II at the end of the 13th century BC. Buried until the mid 19th century, the reliefs on the walls are much better preserved than those in Chamber A. A line of gods of the Underworld are pictured on the wall immediately to the right of the entrance. On the opposite wall is a representation of Nergal, the God of the Sword and the Underworld. To the left of this relief a cartouche with the name of Tudhaliya IV is visible and this same king is shown embracing the Thunder God Teshub on the right side.
- Anatolia: On The Trail of the Hittite Civilization by Nurhayat Yazici (Uranus, 2011)