The Hittites in Turkey

Here’s the story of the Hittites in short (they even look kinda short in that picture to the right):

2600 to 1900 BC: Old Bronze Age, towns of considerable size are built in Anatolia by peoples we call the Hatti, or “Proto-Hittites.”

1900 to 1600 BC: Middle Bronze Age, the Hittites themselves invade Anatolia, taking over from the indigenous peoples.

1600 to 1500 BC: Early Hittite Kingdom, the Hittites founded Hattusha (ha-TOO-shah, modern Boğazkale) and make it their capital.

1500 to 1300 BC: Hittite Empire, the Hittites expand, conquering Babyon and taking Syria from the pharaohs of Egypt, but between 1300 and 1200 BC a massive invasion of “Sea Peoples” from the Aegean weakens their rule.

Except for a few references in the Bible, we knew little about the Hittites until explorer Charles Texier discovered the ruins of Hattusha in 1834. Excavations began in 1905, and revealed thousands of clay tablets written in cuneiform giving the history and laws of the land. Art objects from daily life show that the Hittites had a marvelous artistic culture as well.


Hittite soldiers in procession at yazılıkaya…

Most of the artifacts recovered from Hattusha are now in the excellent Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara though there is also a small museum in Boğazkalenext to the Hattusha ruins.

The Hittites worshipped a pantheon of more than 1000 gods and goddesses, prime among them Teshub, the Storm God, and Hepatu, the Goddess of the Sun.

The prime places to explore Hittite history and culture are:

Ankara

Near the ancient hilltop fortress in the center of the Turkish capital stands the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, the richest collection of Hittite artifacts in the world, housed in a restored Ottoman caravanseraiMore…

Boğazkale

This town 200 km (124 miles) east of Ankara, is next to the ruins of Hattusha and rock-carved reliefs of Yazılıkaya. More…

Alacahöyük

Only 36 km (22 miles) north of Boğazkale, this is a smaller Hittite city with ruins and a museum.

Karatepe-Aslantaş

28 km (17 miles) north of Osmaniye, east of Adana and north of Antakya at the eastern end of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast, this forested hilltop national park holds the ruins of a late Hittite city with monumental city gates and wallsMore…

Other Sites

Hittite artifacts have been found in many other places in Anatolia, especially at Malatya-Aslantepe and Carchemish (Karkamış) near Gaziantep.

—by Tom Brosnahan


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