Hattusa

From Academic Kids

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Hattusa.liongate.jpg
The Lion Gate in the south-west

Hattusa (also known as Hattusas or Hattush) was the capital of the Hittite Empire. It was located near the modern-day village of Boğazköy, in Turkey, and was set in a loop of the Kizil Irmak river (the Halys of Antiquity) in central Anatolia, about 145 km (90 miles) east of Ankara.

Before 2000 BC a settlement of the apparently indigenous Hatti people was established on sites that had been occupied even earlier. In the 19th and 18th centuries BC, merchants from Ashur in Assyria established a trading post here, setting up in their own separate quarter of the city. The center of their trade network was located in Kanesh (Nesha), the archaeological site known as Kültepe near Kayseri. Business dealings required record-keeping: the trade network from Ashur introduced writing to Hattusa, in the form of cuneiform.

A carbonized layer in the excavations records the burning and ruin of the city of Hattush around 1700 BC. The responsible party appears to have been King Anitta from Kushar (a city that has not yet been rediscovered), who took credit for the act and erected an inscribed curse for good measure:

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Hattusa.yenicekale.jpg
Yenicekale, between the Lion Gate and the outer city
At night I took the city by force; I have sown weeds in its place. Should any king after me attempt to resettle Hattush, may the Weathergod of Heaven strike him down.

Only a generation later, a Hittite king had chosen the site as his residence and capital. The Hittites, speaking an Indo-European language had been drifting into the area, without notable violence or mass migrations, for some time. The Hattian Hattush now became the Hittite Hattusha, and the king took the name of Hattusili I, the "one from Hattusha." Hattusili marked the beginning of a royal line of Hittite Great Kings, 27 of whom are now known by name.

At its peak, the city covered 1.8 km² and comprised an inner and outer portion, both surrounded by a massive and still visible course of walls erected during the reign of Suppiluliuma I (circa 1375 BC-1335 BC). The inner city covered an area of some 0.8 km² it was occupied by a citadel with large administrative buildings and temples.

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Hattusa.temple1.jpg
The Great Temple in the inner city

To the south lay an outer city of about 1 km², with elaborate gateways decorated with reliefs showing warriors, lions, and sphinxes. Four temples were located here, each set around a porticoed courtyard, together with secular buildings and residential structures. Outside the walls are cemeteries, most of which contain cremation burials.

The city was destroyed by the Phrygians around 1200 BC, leading to the collapse of the Hittite empire. The site was subsequently abandoned until the mid 1st millennium BC.

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Hattusa.rampart.jpg
The Yerkapi rampart in the south

Since 1906, the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft (the German Institute of Archaeology) has been excavating at Hattusa (with breaks during the two World Wars and the Depression). One of its most important discoveries has been the cuneiform royal archives of clay tablets, consisting of official correspondence and contracts, as well as legal codes, procedures for cult ceremony, oracular prophecies and literature of the ancient Near East. One particularly important tablet details the terms of a peace settlement between the Hittites and the Egyptians under Ramesses II, circa 1283 BC. A copy is on display in the United Nations in New York as an example of one of the earliest known international peace treaties.

Although the 30,000 or so clay tablets recovered from Hattusha form the main corpus of Hittite literature, archives have since appeared at other centers in Anatolia, such as Tabigga/Maşat Höyük (in Tokat Province) and at Shapinuwa/Ortaköy. They are now divided between the archaeological museums of Ankara and Istanbul.

Hattusha is also one of nine sites in Turkey currently included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

External links

fr:Hattusa it:Hattusa nl:Hattusa pl:Hattusa sv:Hattusha tr:Hattuşaş

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