On the traces of the Hittite Empire , Corum and Alacahöyük- Turkey ( Anatolia ) -1-

Did you ever hear of the Hittites ?

Probably not but you should definitely know them since they are a very important historical milestone in terms of the Indian -European Language Family where today more than 3 billion people which is about 46% of the world population belong to.

The Hittites are one of the first civilizations that changed the way of scripture from the pictorescal scripture ( like the Egyptians ) to a cuneiform of scripture for the first time.

They are the first civilization having the earliest known peace treaty.It is the world known Kadesh Peace Treaty that was signed with Egypt in those days and that is placed in the entrance area of the UN building in New York nowadays !

Moreover the Kadesh Peace Treaty is signed by a woman , by the Hittite Queen Pudehepa !

So many historically important details that build the base of the European civilizations and I believe that it is important to know about these folks who lived from 2000 BC to 1200 BC .

Their architecture and city planning was superprogressive in those times and their historical sites still survived till today .

This is why I will bring you to the heart of Anatolia , to Hattusa that is situated in mid of Turkey which was the Capital City of the Hittite Empire 4000 years ago , today called Bogazkale .

In this region about 100.000 citizens were living in those days which shows how big and important the ancient city was.

It is in March 2021 when I decide to drive to Corum , a city about 6-7 hours drive from Istanbul and 2 hours drive from Ankara in the East .It is an area that I have never been before but that I read so many books about as it is home to ancient Anatolian civilizations . The nature should be also beautiful and very virgin here .It is still wintertime but we are close to the beginning of spring and I dream of a nature that is about to get awake .

On our road we recognize a lot of storch nests – they have arrived from the African continent already .Nature is so pure and silent over here.

I am so curious as the area is full of historical sites from the different periods but especially of the Hittite era .

On our first day on our way to Corum we pass by the mountains and our first stop makes us really feel very excited already – it is the Lacin Rock Tomb with a wooden door dating back to Hellenistic times about 200 BC . We need to climb up a rocky hill to see the rocktomb and it is really breathtaking as it is looking like film scene up there in the mountains – unbelievable – what a treasure !

We feel blessed to have the chance to see this place that is secretly covered in the mountains – so beautiful !

We move forward as we want to visit the Museum in Corum which is one of the 10 most important ones in Turkey as it bears an important part of the treasures of the Hittite culture which have been found in the area around .

We have to state that excavations in the whole region take place since about 110 years already and during this time lots of historical pieces were found in the grounds and the excavations still continue as maybe just 30% of the archeological sites are discovered so far and 70% is still under the earth .Each and every day the archeologists can find new pieces which give them some new enlightment on history .

It is 3 pm when we arrive at the museum and it is closing at 4pm but which is great in such small cities is that the people here are very welcoming , friendly and very flexible .They are happy to wait until you will finalize your museum tour as basically you are seen as a precious guest in the city .

The museum is full of historical pieces from the Hittite period – lots of pottery that give a lot of insight into the daily life of the Hittites as well as into their religious rituals .

The Huseyindede vase is a masterpiece. It was found on Huseyindede hill in 1998 and is one of the best preserved pieces of its epoque and bears the full story of a religious ceremony in those days and is therefore unique .Bull figures at the top of the vase show that the vase is related to the God of Storms and was used during religious ceremonies.

What is one of the most important pieces are the tablets with the first cuneiform scripture in world history . The archeologists could find more than 25.000 pieces of these tablets and they could also decrypt the contense so that they can state a lot of contense of the Hittites social life and also their institutions.

The tablets could be in any size and form .

The most important tablet is certainly the Kadesh Peace Treaty where the original piece is displayed in the Archeology Museum in Istanbul .

Another masterpiece is the sword of the period of Hittite King Tuthaliya which is from 1430 BC .The sword is contemporarily shown at the International Airport in Istanbul .

For sure the golden jewelry set is one of the most valuable pieces as well .

On the other side we have to know that the Hittite Pantheon had a number of 1000 gods where the Goddess of The Sun , the God of the Storm and Wind for instance were very important and in the museum we can find some of their little statues as well .

Also Kybele , Mother Nature , was part of the Hittite culture .

The pantheon got so many gods as any area that they conquered around and that had different gods than theirs were just added to the pantheon to have peace in the empire – so all gods were accepted and this is why the number of gods was so high .

These main gods were probably also the precursors to later cultures for instance the Roman mythology or the Greek mythology since the god profiles are pretty the same .

It is so great to be here and to breathe history at a place where it belongs to .

Next to the main building there is the Ethnography Museum where more contemporary pieces are displayed of the region , pieces which are about 100 – 200 years old but which also show the regional culture of Anatolia .

The museum staff was so friendly to wait for us and happily we leave the place as we are tired of our todays journey and will continue our exploration tour on the next day .

xxx

The next day actually we drive first to Sapinuva . The museum clerk is so friendly to show us around .This is a place where about 35.000 people were living in Hittite times .All the hills around are blocked by the government as it is clear that all the ground under these hills is a huge archeological site .Sometimes if you even just dig 10-20 cm you can find historical pieces . This is why the whole area is under protection .

the architecture is marvellous as the stones are cut like a puzzle and linked to each other so that it is not possible for them to move .The technique is also earthquakefriendly as the building can move during an earthquake on the cobblestone but it will be not damaged .

So many highly progressive details to learn also about the waterpiping and defend system .

Witnesses of the old times here and there .

We are able to see an ancient temple of the Hittites .

They also have a bassin with water to get clean and pure before the ceremony takes place .

It is interesting to learn that anything that was used during a religious ritual was never used in daily life whether it was any kind of cup or tool or even any kind of rice or fruit . Anything to eat was separately grown for daily life and for religious rituals as anything for the ritual needed to be totally pure .Anything that was used in daily life was in terms of religion “dirty “

There is also another place that was used like an agora and where trade was made .

The entrance of the agora as well as the different shops and little warehouses can be recognized easily .

There is a certain symmetry in the buildings.

The distance between the different columns who were carrying the whole system is mathematically the same and between the cut stone pillars there are strong wooden parts made out of cedar trees.

The original pottery where the related food was stocked is visible at its original place .

The Hittites were very knowlegable in baking bread – they had hundreds of different bread types , they were having wine and beer ( beer was mixed with honey ) .

The old recipes of the Hittite cuisine is available and there are people who try to re-experience the Hittite cooking of a time that was 4000 years ago .

The last place to see at Sapinuva is a place where there are ovens where the bronze metal was formed and prepared for weapons or other tools .

The place is to vivid – it looks as if the Hittites just left this location today .Incredible that the site has survived 40 decades !

All historical findings from Sapinuva are saved in the Museum of Corum or in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara .

We leave this ground to drive to Alacahoyuk which is another very important Hittite settlement in this region with very important findings that have been made here .

There is a heavy rain but whatever happens we will definitely do the tour as Alacahoyuk is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage since 1986 and we are waiting since so many years to see the Hittite culture !

Actually the Alacahoyuk excavations that started in 1935 are one of the first national excavations in Turkey and the Alacahoyuk Museum was opened in 1940.

Even the entrance of the area is breathtaking – the sphinx is overlooking the environment and is waiting here.

When we arrive at the museum the view is really very special .The door of the two sphinx is visible .

It is a big joy to enter this site – my godess , what a great moment to be at this place !

The sphinx with her deep eyeholes is very impressive and like a silent whitness of those time .

The bull at the entrance of the site is showing that the place was dedicated to the God of the Storms called Teshup .

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The double headed eagle looking to the east and to the west is the symbol of the Hittite Empire .

The empire was lost for 3000 years and then re-discovered and brought back to life .

One of the most stunning parts in the archeological site are the 13 tombs of the Hittite Kings and Queens .

The tombs are filled with sun disks ,little sculptures of deers and bulls , swords, ax and decorative elements made of soil, gold,silver,stone,bronze and copper .

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The heads of the animals which were sacrificied for the funeral are placed at the head of the graves .

Next to the tombs there is also a little temple on top of a little hill .

Under the rain it takes us about 1 hour to walk around the whole archeological site .

Wow – it was worth to get totally wet – what a day !

We walk into the museum building to see some of the very iconic pieces of the Hittite Empire which is eg the sun disk .

The sun disks were found in the 13 royal tombs in Alacahoyuk and normally are made of bronze .

The disc is symbolizing either the sun or the earth and is decorated with animal figures and horns and was used in religious ceremonies in the Hittite Empire .The birds on top of the disks symbolize the fertility and the freedom of nature .

Deers and bulls were also found in the royal tombs , parts of them being in silver and often having long horns.

The bull with its horns plays a major role in a lot of culture and represent actually life eg the bull in the Egyptian culture with the sun between its horns or the bull figure in the Indian culture that is representing the day and the night and therefore the life cycle .Most of these kind of pieces are displayed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilization and just a part in the Museum of Alacahoyuk .It is not clear yet of what the bulls were standing for in these ancient culture.It is just known that it was a symbol dedicated to the God of Storm.

The sun disk and the deer later became the symbol of the City of Ankara and Corum as well as the symbol of the University of Ankara .

In the museum there is also a reproduction of Alacahoyuk city .Here the city wall as well as the typical Hittite house constructions can be seen .

We end the day being supersatisfied with what we have seen and are excited for the next day to come where we will visit the huge Capital city of Hattusa which is about an hour drive from Alacahoyuk .

I cant wait to see the settlement and the famous temples over there by tomorrow.

In my blog on Hattusa which was the Capital City of the Hittite Empire I will give a lot of information of the history of the Hittites and the blog will be complementary of each other .

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