A Day in Turkey with the Hittites

One of the most fascinating and long vanished people are the Hittites. They appear briefly in the Bible, but many details about that civilization are unknown. This makes them all the more fascinating, I think.

Several Years back I had the good fortune to be taken around the Hittite ruins of Hatussas by a university student from Anakara. The ruins are a few hours from Ankara and situated looking over some rugged hills. The site is still being excavated and studied, but is thought to have been important in the metal trade around 2,000 BCE. They worshiped many gods, about 1,000 in total and built several cities, now all gone to ruin. What follows are photos I took in the area around the Hatussas site.

Yazilikaya

The first area is a religious site about a mile from the main ruins. This sanctuary with carved rock walls is called Yazilikaya. You can see a sign telling visitors not to jump around.

You enter through a very narrow and dark gap.

HittiteTwo

From the outside, it doesn’t look like there’s any point in going in there and I said as much to the patient student who knew better.

GodsOne_0001

These guys are the warm up act for the big guns. Their attendants, really.

ThunderGod

There I am, standing in front of them.  That rope, uh, I guess it’s to keep you from touching? But the student told me to go ahead and have a feel. I realize now I shouldn’t have because those gods should be preserved. To my right is my favorite, the Thunder or Storm God. He has an eagle. Below is a close up. Sadly, he hasn’t weathered the last three thousand-plus years too well. A few hours later, the bus that was taking me back to Ankara became trapped in a scary dust storm. See, you can’t touch them!

ThunderGodCloseup

Below are examples of Hittite script. Because it’s almost impossible for an untrained eye to make anything out of the relief carvings, there are two examples of the writing below. This writing is an early Indo-European language like Greek and Latin. The Hittites left very interesting writings, not just the business and political records, but even autobiographies including a royal love story. Many of their records were written in another type of script, using cuniform which looks like a bunch of triangles to me. Not that I can read this stuff either!

writingTWO

writingOne_0001

If any of you have students or kids who complain about their writing assignments, show them this and ask them what they have to complain about  🙂

Templeplan

There once was a huge temple here with many associated buildings. Above is a drawing of the gate and environs. Below is what’s left of the gate. There were lions…

TemplegateOne

And guardians.

TemplegateTwoBelow is the view looking over the surrounding area. These ruins are old storage rooms and contain huge pottery jars. You can see the sign asking people not to jump in them. *sigh*

townOne_0001

A close up shot of these amazing vessels:

storageOne

And now for a really mysterious place. A tunnel built to go under the city walls. Still intact after 4,000 years, it takes a bit of courage to walk through the 70 meter length. Just because it’s been standing that long doesn’t mean it won’t fall down “now”…

TunnelOne

TunnelTWO

This stone stands in an area of fallen walls. An altar? I hope not to sacrifice maidens. Actually, they didn’t seem to practice human sacrifice and had an advanced legal system for their time. They also sometimes practiced diplomacy when other contemporary cultures only engaged in war. One Hittite ruler made a peace treaty with Egypt that held for many years.

Altar

I hope you enjoyed the tour. My next blog will be about another fascinating place in Turkey, Istanbul. Here’s a preview and an etching I did later using part of the photo.

IstanbulOne

Istanbulwoman
Please visit my website if you’d like to see more etchings or to get information about my two mystery novels. www.mickeyhoffman.com

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~ by mickeyhoffman on March 25, 2013.

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