Bogazkale Tourist Attractions
Northeastern Central AnatoliaSituation and ImportanceThe village of Bogazkale (or Bogazköy), starting-out point for exploring the famous ruins of the Hittite capital of Hattusas (also Hattusa, Hattusha) as well as the neighboring rock sanctuary at Yazilikaya, lies on a bend in the Kizilirmak about 200km/124mi east of Ankara.
It is situated below the sprawling archeological site, at the upper end of the Budaközü valley where the Zincirli Dag (1,641m/5,386ft) and the Akcadag Tepesi (1,689m/5,543ft) converge and where the Yazir Deresi and Büyükkaya Deresi, two source streams, join forces to form the Budaközü Dere. On a plateau in between, a kilometer or so southeast of the village and some 90m/300ft higher up, are the ruins of Hattusas's lower city, including those of the Great Temple. Limestone outcrops rising abruptly from the plateau and along its flanks made fine natural sites for the acropolis and for various fortifications and towers. The New (upper) City, with three fortresses and numerous temples, stood further to the south, where the far from level plateau, dotted with boulders and broken by summits and ridges, rises to a height of 1,242m/4,076ft. The huge scale of the city can be judged from the fact that the walls encircling it were once 6km/4mi long.HistoryThe acropolis (Büyükkale) is known to have been inhabited in the third millennium B.C. In the 19th century B.C. Assyrian merchants established the kind of trading colony for which the Assyrians were famous on the northern edge of the pre-Hittite town. At the beginning of the 18th century B.C. a King Anitta of Kushar (the precise location of which remains unknown) destroyed both the town and the trading settlement. Despite his having also put a curse on it, in the 17th century B.C. one of his successors moved his capital to Hattusas and even styled himself Hattusili (I) accordingly. The next Hittite king, Mursili I, embarked on a wide-ranging and successful series of conquests from which not even Babylon escaped. Following an interim period of reverses and decline, Hittite power expanded once again around 1450 B.C. leading to the creation of the Hittite Empire. Most of the buildings and sculptures seen today date from the heyday of the Empire.Around 1200 B.C. Hattusas and its empire were destroyed by unidentified invaders, possibly the so-called Sea Peoples. Since there is no evidence of any recovery it must be assumed that the entire population of the city was either deported or killed. The ruins stood abandoned for more than two hundred years before Phrygians built a new town on the acropolis.About 650 B.C. this settlement was in turn partly destroyed. Subsequently there was further building on the acropolis under the Medes, Lydians and Persians. Coins found on the site suggest that, from A.D. 240 to 350, the acropolis may have been in use as a sanctuary. Bogazköy began as an Ottoman village, growing up to the northwest of the ruins in the early 18th century around the seat of the ruling derebey.History of the ExcavationsThe site, the existence of which is referred to in the Old Testament (Genesis 23), was rediscovered in 1834 by the scholar Charles Texier, although he was unable to identify the remains. It was A. H. Sayce who first suggested their possible Hittite origin. In 1882 C. Hamann carried out a survey, and two years later E. Chantre discovered the first cuneiform clay tablets in Accadian and the (then unknown) Hittite language. In 1920, B. Hrozny succeeded in placing Hittite within the Indo-European family of languages.The first systematic excavations were undertaken in 1906/07 and 1911/12, led by H. Winckler, Th. Makridi and O. Puchstein. These brought to light the royal palace archives containing some 2,500 cuneiform tablets, enabling the site to be positively identified as that of the Hittite capital Hattusas, the name of which was already known from the so-called "Amarna Correspondence" (State Archive of the Pharaoh Echnaton). Since 1977 there have been further investigations by P. Neve concentrating on the upper city, finds from which include 1040 Hittite inscription tablets uncovered on Nisantepe (Medallion Hill). A path has been laid out enabling visitors to make a circular tour of the site.
About 300m/328yds east of the Great Temple in Bogazkale is a rocky height known as Ambarlikaya, with a large natural cave on the southeast side. Steps lead up to the summit where a watch-tower probably stood. From here a battlemented parapet of wooden galleried construction, quite separate from the main city wall, went steeply down into the valley between Ambarlikaya and Büyükkaya (the rocky height further to the northeast). Carried across the intervening 85m/280ft-wide gorge on a wooden bridge the footings of which can still be seen in the rock, it then joined up with the Büyükkaya fortifications on the other side.
The Hattusas Acropolis dates from the 3rd millennium B.C. and is remarkable for its imposing architecture and fine state of repair.
House on the Slope
Nothing much is known about the function of this building standing southeast of the Great Temple in Hattusas. Being on the route between the temple and the royal citadel it is assumed to be part of a considerably larger complex connected in some way with the temple. Stone socles with cult images carved in relief (now in the Istanbul Museum) were found in its vicinity. The two-storyed building consisted of a hall measuring 13 x 17m/43 x 56ft, an open, columned portal, a wide vestibule, several smaller rooms and a corridor. Underneath were kitchens, storerooms etc. The upper story faced uphill towards a pier-bordered square.
This, the best preserved of all the gates, is situated on the southeast side of the upper city of Hattusas. A ramp leads up through a small, partially enclosed, forecourt to a gate chamber, 6m/20ft wide, with once massive watchtowers. The entrance is guarded by a larger than life-size stone relief of a Hittite god, the original of which is in the Hittite Museum in Ankara. Armed with a battle-ax he is dressed as a warrior in a form of tunic with a broad belt and Dagger and a pointed cap adorned with bull's horns.
Near the main entrance to the temple precinct in Hattusas lie the remains of a 5.8m/19ft-long basin, originally fashioned from a single massive block of limestone but now in four pieces. Carved with crouching lions its function is uncertain.
Lion Gate, on the southwest side of the upper city of Hattusas, is the mirror-image of the King's Gate (the east wall of the gate chamber was reconstructed in 1965). Carved in relief on the doorjambs either side are the head and forequarters of a lion, guarding the gate with threateningly open jaws. Hollows in the stonework in front of the lions' paws suggest some form of cult significance. To the left, next to the fallen head of the westerly of the two lions, Hittite hieroglyphs are still faintly discernible in the bright noonday sun.
On the right-hand side of the road leading north out of Bogazköy there is a small museum illustrating the various phases of Hattusas's development. The array of items salvaged from the ruins make an interesting complement to the much more comprehensive collection in the Hittite Museum in Ankara.
This rocky platform northeast of Sarikale was at one time crowned by some fairly substantial structure with a courtyard, of which nothing now remains. On an artificially smooth rock wall below the former entrance gate (excavations in progress) there is a badly weathered but still partly decipherable hieroglyphic inscription. It declares the author to be Suppiluliuma II and the inscription to be a list of his predecessors.
Upper Town Temple Town
As well as encircling the heights of Yenicekale, Sarikale, Nisantepe and the citadel hill, the walls surrounding the upper town of Hattusas enclose a gently stepped depression on the terrace-like slopes of which the foundations of a considerable number of buildings have been exposed. Initially five of these were identified as temples but, as a result of excavations carried out since 1978, that number has now grown to 25, revealing the area of be a veritable temple town. All exemplify a common overall pattern - an inner court giving access to a suite of cult rooms with a vestibule and main chamber. The vast majority (nineteen in all) seem to be built to a standard design, being similar in all important respects and of a uniformly small size (21.5 x 26.5m/70 x 87ft). They also appear to date from a specific architectural period between 1250 and 1220 B.C. The other six are different, being larger and less regular in plan, with more spacious forecourts.
Sarikale (Yellow Fort), occupying a rocky outcrop between Yenicekale and the acropolis in Hattusas, provides a graphic illustration of the boldness of Hittite rock architecture. It incorporated a temple, a walled cistern and a fortress complex with forecourt, inner courtyard and building wing. The possibility that this rock summit site had some special cult significance attaching to it cannot be ruled out.
Portions of what was primarily an 8 m wide cyclopean wall still remain. It was built in phases during the 13th and 14th C.
About 100m/109yds south of the royal citadel (Büyükkale) in Hattusas are what appear to be remnants of a second citadel, strategically placed on a double rock outcrop which drops away steeply on one side. Among the remains are those of a bastion-like defensive wall and houses.
The Great Temple at Hattusas was dedicated to the Weather God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of Arinna.
The majority of the buildings in the lower city of Hattusas surrounding the Great Temple to the southeast of the village of Bogazköy, are either the (earlier) farmstead type or the (later) so-called urban houses with a principal room. Both would have had more than a single story. The difference between them reflects the evolution of the population, from farmers cultivating land within the city boundaries to townsfolk proper. Below the temple complex are some warehouses dating from the New Kingdom, easily recognized by their large storage jars (pithoi). The impressive "blocks" of housing on the temple precinct's main thoroughfare were probably reserved for persons of privilege, possibly associated with the temple. Since in most cases only the foundations have survived, the houses were almost certainly of clay brick and timber-frame construction resting on rough stone foundations. Dressed stone was mostly only used in gates e.g for thresholds and doorjambs etc. The wall around the lower city was pierced in several places by unusual and intriguing posterns similar in construction to Yerkapi (eight have been identified), consisting of tunnels with end-gates guarded by towers. Although often referred to as sally-ports, historians are far from agreed on their purpose. The defenseworks, originally constructed towards the end of the Old Hittite period, were altered a number of times in the 14th/13th century B.C.
The upper (slightly smaller) and lower West Gates in Hattusas gave access from the northernmost corner of the New City to the Budaközü and Yazir Çayi valleys. The gates themselves were similar to the King's and Lion Gates though lacking their decoration and forecourts.
At Yazilikaya, the 15th C B.C sanctuary displays some of the finest remaining Hittite period carved reliefs.
On both sides of the large chamber in Hattusas, which is southwest facing and almost 30m/98ft-long, friezes carved along the base of the rock wall depict a procession of gods, predominantly male on the left, female on the right. Among the exceptions are, left side, far end, Ishtar, goddess of love, and two female companions, recognized by their pleated skirts. All are shown advancing towards the narrow north wall where, in the climax to the scene, the two processions meet. Most of the figures have Hittite hieroglyphs above their outstretched hands, making it possible to identify them as divinities of Hurrian origin.The relative importance of each god is reflected in his or her size, position in the order and name. Chief among them, leading the procession, is the weather god Teshup, armed and in Hittite warrior garb, borne aloft on the shoulders of two mountain gods. Facing him at the head of her own procession is Hepat his wife, standing on a panther, its four feet resting on mountain peaks. In the background can be seen the weather god's two sacred bulls. To the left the Hattusas weather god with a mace on his shoulder straddles two mountain tops while, on the right, Sharrumma, son of Teshup and Hetap, rides on another panther. The figures above the double eagle are those of the goddess's daughter and granddaughter. While the goddesses in the procession are generally portrayed in near identical fashion, the gods are in many cases individualized, distinguished by their respective attributes and clothing. Of these the most eye-catching are the moon god with the crescent moon above his pointed cap, the sun god with a rounded cap beneath a winged sun-disc, and two bull-headed gods standing Atlas-like on a symbol of earth, holding up the sky.The most impressive relief of all, on the rear of a rock spur, shows the Hittite King Tuthaliya IV standing on scaly mountain peaks, with a rounded cap, long mantle and crooked scepter. In his right hand are the combined insignia of his kingly power and rank, a winged sun-disc, conical volute and flower Dagger. Despite being Hittite the king would certainly have held the gods of the Hurrian pantheon sacred, not least because his mother (Puduhepa) was in all probability a Hurrian priestess herself. The "assembled" gods are presumed to be those of Hattusas's many temples, shown "processing" to the sanctuary at Yazilikaya (accompanied by the human worshippers) for the spring or new year festival.
The most recent research suggests that the small chamber served both as a funerary temple and, after his death, as a shrine to King Tuthaliya IV. Guarded by a pair of winged demons with lions' heads, the 18m/59ft-long side chamber, varying in width between 2.5 and 4m/8 and 13ft, is entered via a slightly raised passageway leading through a cleft in the rock. The impression conveyed is of entering a narrow gallery, its smooth walls carved with four separate and thematically unconnected reliefs. Immediately inside, near a curve in the east wall, is a repeat of the Tuthaliya IV cartouche from the main chamber. This is followed by the so-called "sword god", a relief of a great sword with a human head for the pommel and four lions for the hilt (possibly based on Nergal, the Mesopotamian god of the underworld).On the wall opposite are "the Twelve Gods", a simple frieze of stereotyped male divinities similar to those of the processional relief in the large chamber. Finally, on the east wall, is seen the most striking of the four reliefs, showing the god Sharrumma embracing King Tuthaliya. The accompanying inscriptions pay homage to the king as a heroic figure, deified as a mountain god and evidently enjoying divine protection. Some 2m/6.5ft from the north wall is a limestone pedestal on which stood a statue of Tuthaliya, erected after the king's death by his son Shuppiluliuma II. Remains of the statue, found in the village of Yekbaz, indicate it was over 3m/10ft tall. The niches in the walls are thought to have been for cremation urns.
This Sphinx Gate, at the central axis of Hattusas, along with the tunnel, earthen rampart, and staircase ramps, is a symmetrical masterpiece of Hittite architecture.
Map of Bogazkale Attractions