Back to index
The archaeological site of Hattusha, former capital of the Hittite Empire, is notable for its urban organization, the types of construction that have been preserved (temples, royal residences, fortifications), the rich ornamentation of the Lions' Gate and the Royal Gate, and the ensemble of rock art at Yazilikaya. The city enjoyed considerable influence in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium B.C.
In the rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya, near Bogazkale, is a remarkable series of reliefs cut into rock. The reliefs depict two long processions of gods and goddesses advancing toward each other. The majority of the gods remain unidentified, but the two deities heading the procession are the storm god, or weather god, and the sun goddess, the chief deities worshiped by the Hittites. Excavations at the sanctuary revealed a temple built in front of one chamber; the other, smaller chamber seems to have been devoted to the cult of a deceased king.
Hittites (Hebrew Hittim), was an ancient people of Asia Minor and the Middle East, inhabiting the land of Hatti on the central plateau of what is now Anatolia, Turkey, and some areas of northern Syria. The Hittites, whose origin is unknown, spoke an Indo-European language. They invaded the region, which became known as Hatti, about 1900 BC and imposed their language, culture, and rule on the earlier inhabitants, a people speaking a non-Indo-European agglutinative language. The first town settled by the Hittites was Nesa, near present-day Kayseri, Turkey.
Shortly after 1800 BC they conquered the town of Hattusas, near the site of present-day Bogazkale. Nothing more is known of Hittite history until, in the 17th century BC, the so-called Old Hittite Kingdom was founded by the Hittite leader Labarna (reigned about 1680-1650 BC), or Tabarna, and Hattusas became its capital. Labarna conquered nearly all of central Anatolia and extended his rule to the sea.
His successors extended Hittite conquests into northern Syria. Mursili I (reigned about 1620-1590 bc), the second ruler after Labarna, conquered what is now Halab (Aleppo), Syria, and raided Babylon about 1595 BC. Mursili’s assassination was followed by a period of internal strife and external weakness that ended during the reign of King Telipinu (reigned about 1525-1500 BC). To ensure the stability of the kingdom, he issued strict rules governing the royal succession. The law code may also have been compiled during his reign. Of Telipinu’s successors only the names are known.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in Turkey (on this site). Inactive links are not described on stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section Turkey for further information about the individual properties.
Back to index
Revised 21 jul 2006