Yazilikaya Hittite Rock Sanctuary

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

Yazilikaya

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 was 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.

The entrance to Yazılıkaya sanctuary.
The entrance to Yazılıkaya sanctuary.

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.

Engraving from a relief at Yazilikaya by French archaeologist Charles Texier (1882).
Engraving from a relief at Yazilikaya by French archaeologist Charles Texier (1882).
Teshub stands on two deified mountains (depicted as men) alongside his wife Hepatu, who is standing on the back of a panther. Behind her, their son, their daughter and grandchild are respectively carried by a smaller panther and a double-headed eagle.

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.

PORTFOLIO

Chamber A

Overview of Chamber A.
Overview of Chamber A.
Chamber A, twelve gods of the Underworld.
Chamber A, twelve gods of the Underworld. They all wear shoes curling up at the toe, and many are armed with either a sickle-shaped sword or a mace, which they carry over their shoulder.
Chamber A, two bull men stand between male gods on the hieroglyphic symbol of the earth and supporting the sky.
Chamber A, two bull men stand between male gods on the hieroglyphic symbol of the earth and supporting the sky.
Left wall of Chamber A depicting male gods.
Left wall of Chamber A depicting male gods.
Chamber A, main relief scene with
Chamber A, main scene in the middle of the chamber where Teshup and Hepat meet and female goddesses in procession on the right wall.
Chamber A, goddesses in procession.
Chamber A, goddesses in procession.
Chamber A, main scene depicting (left to right) the God Kumarbi (chief god of the Hurrians), the weather and storm god Teshuba, the earth goddess Hepat, Sharumma (son of Teshuba & Hepat) and Alanzu (daughter of Teshup Hepat).
Chamber A, main scene depicting (left to right) the God Kumarbi (chief god of the Hurrians), the weather and storm god Teshuba, the earth goddess Hepat, Sharumma (son of Teshuba & Hepat) and Alanzu (daughter of Teshup Hepat).
Chamber A, relief depicting the sanctuary's founder, King Tudhaliya IV, standing on two mountains.
Chamber A, relief depicting the sanctuary’s founder, King Tudhaliya IV, standing on two mountains.

Chamber B

Entrance to Chamber B with a relief of a winged, lion-headed demon.
Entrance to Chamber B with a relief of a winged, lion-headed demon.
Chamber B.
Chamber B. The narrow gallery is thought to be a memorial chapel for Tudhaliya IV, dedicated by his son Suppiluliuma II
Chamber B, the niches were probably used for offerings.
Chamber B, the niches were probably used for offerings.
West wall of Chamber B depicting the twelve Gods of the Underworld.
West wall of Chamber B depicting the twelve Gods of the Underworld.
East wall of Chamber B with a depiction of Negal, the Sword God and God of the Underworld.
East wall of Chamber B with a depiction of Negal, the Sword God and God of the Underworld.
Chamber B, cartridge showing the name and title of King Tudhaliya IV.
Chamber B, cartouche showing the name and title of King Tudhaliya IV.
East wall of Chamber B depicting in a niche the God Sharruma (son of the Thunder God Teshub) embracing King Tudhaliya IV.
East wall of Chamber B depicting in a niche the God Sharruma (son of the Thunder God Teshub) embracing King Tudhaliya IV. The god has his left arm over the king’s shoulders while holding the king’s right wrist. The god wears a shot tunic and has pointed shoes. The king wears a long coat and carries a sword and a litus.
West wall of Chamber B depicting the twelve Gods of the Underworld.
West wall of Chamber B depicting the twelve Gods of the Underworld.

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Hattusa

unescoHattusa, the capital city of the Hittites in the late Bronze Age, is located in the Boğazkale District of the Çorum Province, 150 kilometres east of Ankara. It was the head of an empire that stretched across the broad lands of Anatolia and northern Syria, from the Aegean in the west to the Euphrates in the east. The ruins of the city walls, the gates, the temples and the palaces awaiting the visitors today provide a comprehensive picture of the Hittite capital in the 13th century BC.

Coordinates: 40° 1′ 11″ N, 34° 36′ 55″ E

Hattusa

The earliest traces of settlement on the site are from the 6th millennium BC. During the 19th and 18th centuries BC, the Hattians and the Assyrian Trade Colonies settled in the area. Hattusa, named Huttush at the time, was one of the Karu (trading post) established by the merchant colonies of Assyria. Hattush came to an end around 1720 BC when Anitta, king of Kussara (of the dynasty that would form the Old Hittite Kingdom), sacked the city. A generation later, another king of Kussara decided to make the city his capital. A new city was planned and built on the ruins of the old one and the Hittite language was introduced to the region. Hattush became the Hitttite city of Hattusa and the king took the name of Hattusili I, the “one from Hattusa”. Over the next few hundred years Hattusa remained the capital of the Hittite empire.

At its peak, the population of Hattusa reached an estimated 40,000-50,000 inhabitants. The city was very large, covering 1.8 km² with massive defensive walls over 6km in length and huge watchtowers and secret tunnels.

The site was discovered on July 28 in 1834 by Charles Texier but the first systematic excavations in Hattusa began in 1893-1894 under the guidance of Ernest Chantre who published the first cuneiform tablets from Hattusa. Since 1907 archaeological work has been carried out by the German Archaeological Institute. The city consisted of two separated districts; the Lower City, the district of the Old City of the Hittites where the main temple was located, and the Upper City, a newer part of the city with a fortified palace complex surrounded by massive walls. The site also boasts a number of hieroglyphic inscriptions bearing traces of the so-called “Luwian” script.

The city was destroyed, together with the Hittite state itself, around 1200 BC, as part of the collapse of the Late Bronze Age kingdoms. Excavations at the site determined that Hattusa was invaded and burned early in the 12th century BC after many of Hattusa’s residents had abandoned the city. The site was subsequently abandoned until 800 BC when a modest Phrygian settlement appeared in the area. Today the whole tour of the ancient city can be completed following the concrete path of 3-4 kilometres either on foot or by car.

PORTFOLIO

The Lower City

Modern reconstruction of a 65m long section of the city wall made of mud brick.
Modern reconstruction of a 65m long section of the city wall made of mud brick with defense towers built at intervals of 20-25 metres. The reconstructed part rests on top of the original Hittite foundations. The inner city wall shielded the area of the Great Temple and adjacent settlement.
Terracotta tower-shaped vessel fragment used as cult vessel, tower-shaped vessels reflect the model Hittite city walls, found during excavations in Hattua, 14th century BC, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara
Terracotta tower-shaped vessel fragment used as cult vessel. Tower-shaped vessels were used as the model for the reconstruction of the Hittite city walls.
Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara
Residential quarters from the period of the Assyrian Trade Colonies (19-18th centuries BC) including ruins of houses and offices of Assyrian merchants.
Residential quarters from the period of the Assyrian Trade Colonies (19-18th centuries BC) including ruins of houses and offices of Assyrian merchants.
The gateway to the Temple complex.
The gateway to the Temple complex. The complex consists of a massive precinct of some 14,000 square meters, with the temple itself measuring 42×65 metres. The temple may have been built by or on order of the Great King Hattusili III, ruling during the mid-13th century BC.
The paved Street of the Temple surrounding the central temple building.
The paved Street of the Temple surrounding the central temple building.
The main entrance the Great Temple was provided through a huge gate with three doors sills and small cubicles left and right. The Temple was built for the Hattian God of the Sky and the Sun Goddess Arinna. It was the largest temple of the city.
Reconstructive drawing of the Great Temple surrounded by approximately 200 storerooms. Red: the temple proper Yellow: the storage rooms Green: the southern district with the"House of Operations"
Reconstruction of the three main parts of the Great Temple complex:
red: the temple proper
yellow: the storage rooms
green: the southern district with the”House of Operations”
The area of the Great Temple with storerooms surrounding the temple proper.
The area of the Great Temple with storerooms surrounding the temple proper.
Storerooms along the northwest side of the Great Temple, some two-storey high. They housed equipment and offerings of cult practices, foodstuffs and archives of clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform. Huge clay vessels up to 2,000 litres in volume stored wine, oil and grain.
Large monolithic thresholds marking the position of doorways between the storage rooms.
Large monolithic thresholds marking the position of doorways between the storage rooms.
The green stone lying in one of the storerooms of the Temple complex, it is a block of green nephrite-type stone common in the geology of the region. It may have played a role in some religious cult.
The green stone lying in one of the storerooms of the Temple complex. It is a block of green nephrite-type stone common in the geology of the region. It may have played a role in some religious cult.
The Lion Basin which was originally 5.5m long, it once feature crouching lions at all four corners, it probably had a role in cult rituals.
The Lion Basin which was originally 5.5m long, it once feature crouching lions at all four corners. It probably had a role in cult rituals.

The Upper City

The asphalt road leading to the Upper City of Hattusa.
The asphalt road leading to the Upper City of Hattusa.
The Lion Gate flanked by two towers, located at the southwest of the city, the lions were put at the entrance of the city to ward off evil
The Lion Gate, one of the two grand entrances of the Upper City. It was flanked by two rectangular towers and had a inner and an outer doorway, both parabola-shaped, and once furnished with pairs of wooden doors.
Detail of the sculpted lion to the right of the gate. Lions were popular figures of protection and ornament at doorways throughout the Near East. Lions were put at the entrance of the city to ward off evil.
Detail of the sculpted lion to the right of the gate showing the mastery of the carving. Lions were popular figures of protection and ornament at doorways throughout the Near East. Lions were put at the entrance of the city to ward off evil.
The Lion Gate was built in polygonal masonry employing massive limestone blocks.
The Lion Gate was built in polygonal masonry employing massive limestone blocks.
The Yerkapi Rampart It was 80 metres wide,15 metres high and 250 metres long.
The Yerkapi Rampart It was an artificial rampart 80 metres wide,15 metres high and 250 metres long, paved with blocks of limestone.
The entrance to the 70 m long tunnel running under the Yerkapi Rampart. It connected the city to the land outside.
The entrance to the 70 m long tunnel running under the Yerkapi Rampart. It connected the city to the land outside.
Inside the 70 m long tunnel running under the Yerkapi Rampar.
Inside the 70 m long tunnel running under the Yerkapi Rampart.
The Sphinx Gate standing above the Yerkapi Rampart. Unlike the Lion Gate, the Sphinx Gate was not flanked by towers but led through a tower. All four door jambs bore representations of Sphinxes. Only one original Sphinx is still in place while two others are kept in the local museum.
The Sphinx Gate standing above the Yerkapi Rampart. Unlike the Lion Gate, the Sphinx Gate was not flanked by towers but led through a tower. All four door jambs bore representations of Sphinxes. Only one original Sphinx is still in place while two others are kept in the local museum.
The Sphinx Gate
The Sphinx Gate showing the only original sphinx remaining in position. The Hittite must have adopted the sphinx from Egypt where the sphinx represented the King.
The Temple District in the Upper City, 24 different sacred building have been identified, they vary greatly in dimensions.
The Temple District in the Upper City. 24 different sacred building have been identified, they vary greatly in dimensions.
The ruins of one of the biggest temples of the Temple District.
The ruins of one of the biggest temples of the Temple District.
The King's Gate situated at the southeast of the city fortifications with a sculpture of a warrior in high relief measuring 2.25m in height.
The King’s Gate situated at the southeast of the city fortifications with a sculpture of the God of War in high relief measuring 2.25m in height. The original relief can be seen today in the Museum of Ancient Civilizations in Ankara.
The exterior of the King's Gate.
The exterior of the King’s Gate.
The Hieroglyph Chamber perhaps representing a symbolic entrance to the Underworld. The chamber was adorned with reliefs depicting the Sun God and of Shupiluliuma II, the last of the famous Great Kings of Hattusa.
The Hieroglyph Chamber perhaps representing a symbolic entrance to the Underworld. The chamber was adorned with reliefs depicting the Sun God and of Suppiluliuma II, the last of the famous Great Kings of Hattusa.
Luwian hieroglyphs inscription commissioned by the Great King Suppiluliuma II on the right-hand wall of the chamber.
The six-line Luwian hieroglyphs inscription commissioned by the Great King Suppiluliuma II on the right-hand wall of the chamber. The text describes the invasions and successes of King Suppiluliuma II, mentioning that with the help of the gods, the King invaded several lands, including that of Tarhuntassa.
The 8.5m long nscription in Luwian hieroglyphs on the side of the cliff, it has become badly weathered and the content of the text has only been partly deciphered.
The 8.5m long inscription in Luwian hieroglyphs on the side of the cliff, it has become badly weathered and the content of the text has only been partly deciphered.
The ruins of the Royal Castle, the residence of the Kings built during the 13th century BC, it forms the highest point of the old city of Hattusa with splendid views over the city and the valley to the north.
The ruins of the Royal Castle, the residence of the Kings built during the 13th century BC.
Reconstruction of the palace complex.
Reconstruction of the palace complex.
The ruins of the Royal Castle.
The ruins of the Royal Castle.
The gate in the Postern Wall at the southwest of the the Royal Castle.
The gate in the Postern Wall at the southwest of the the Royal Castle.

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