Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

. It was located near modern Boğazkale
Boğazkale is a district of Çorum Province in the Black Sea region of Turkey. It is located at 87 km from the city of Çorum. Population of the town is about 1,500. The mayor is Ali Rıza Soysat ....

, Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, within the great loop of the Kızıl River (Hittite: Marashantiya; Greek: Halys
Halys River
The Kızılırmak , also known as the Halys River , is the longest river in Turkey. It is a source of hydroelectric power and is not used for navigation.- Geography :...


Hattusa was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1986.

The surroundings

The landscape surrounding the city included rich agricultural fields, hill lands for pasture
Pasture is land used for grazing. Pasture lands in the narrow sense are enclosed tracts of farmland, grazed by domesticated livestock, such as horses, cattle, sheep or swine. The vegetation of tended pasture, forage, consists mainly of grasses, with an interspersion of legumes and other forbs...

, as well as woods. Smaller woods are still found outside the city but in ancient times they were far more widespread. This meant the inhabitants had an excellent supply for timber
Timber may refer to:* Timber, a term common in the United Kingdom and Australia for wood materials * Timber, Oregon, an unincorporated community in the U.S...

 when building their houses and other structures. The fields provided the people with a subsistence crop of wheat
Wheat is a cereal grain, originally from the Levant region of the Near East, but now cultivated worldwide. In 2007 world production of wheat was 607 million tons, making it the third most-produced cereal after maize and rice...

, barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

 and lentils. Flax
Linen is a textile made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linum usitatissimum. Linen is labor-intensive to manufacture, but when it is made into garments, it is valued for its exceptional coolness and freshness in hot weather....

 was also harvested, but their primary source for clothing was wool
Wool is the textile fiber obtained from sheep and certain other animals, including cashmere from goats, mohair from goats, qiviut from muskoxen, vicuña, alpaca, camel from animals in the camel family, and angora from rabbits....

 from sheep. They also hunted deer
Deer are the ruminant mammals forming the family Cervidae. Species in the Cervidae family include white-tailed deer, elk, moose, red deer, reindeer, fallow deer, roe deer and chital. Male deer of all species and female reindeer grow and shed new antlers each year...

 in the forest, but this was probably only a luxury reserved for the nobility. The source for meat was domesticated animals. There were several other settlements in the vicinity, such as the rock shrine at Yazılıkaya
Yazılıkaya was a sanctuary of Hattusa, the capital city of the Hittite Empire, today in the Çorum Province, Turkey....

 and the town at Alacahöyük. Since the rivers in the area are too small and unsuitable for major ships, all transport to and from Hattusa had to go by land.

Early history of the city

Before 2000 BC, a settlement of the apparently indigenous Hatti
The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in present-day central part of Anatolia, Turkey, noted at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad , until they were gradually displaced and absorbed ca...

 people was established on sites that had been occupied even earlier. The earliest traces of settlement on the site are from the sixth millennium BC. In the 19th and 18th centuries BC, merchants from Assur
Assur , was one of the capitals of ancient Assyria. The remains of the city are situated on the western bank of river Tigris, north of the confluence with the tributary Little Zab river, in modern day Iraq, more precisely in the Al-Shirqat District .Assur is also...

 in Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

 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 (Neša) (modern Kültepe). Business dealings required record-keeping: the trade network from Assur introduced writing to Hattusa, in the form of cuneiform.

A carbonized layer apparent in excavations attests to the burning and ruin of the city of Hattusa around 1700 BC. The responsible party appears to have been King Anitta
Anitta, son of Pithana, was a king of Kussara, a city that has yet to be identified. He is the earliest known ruler to compose a text in the Hittite language.- Biography :...

 from Kussara
Kussara was a city of Bronze Age south-eastern Anatolia. The rulers of Kuššara extended their authority over central Anatolia, conquering Hittite-speaking Kanesh, destroying the future Hittite capital of Hattusa, and subjugating territories as far north as the Black Sea.A man named Pithana is the...

, who took credit for the act and erected an inscribed curse for good measure:

The Hittite imperial city

Only a generation later, a Hittite-speaking king had chosen the site as his residence and capital. The Hittite Language
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

 had been gaining speakers at Hattic
Hattic language
Hattic was a language spoken by the Hattians in Asia Minor between the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BC. Scholars call this language 'Hattic' to distinguish it from the Hittite language--the Indo-European language of the Hittite Empire....

's expense for some time. The Hattic "Hattus" now became Hittite "Hattusa", and the king took the name of Hattusili I
Hattusili I
Hattusili I was a king of the Hittite Old Kingdom. He reigned ca. 1586–1556 BC .He used the title of Labarna at the beginning of his reign...

, the "one from Hattusa". Hattusili marked the beginning of a non-Hattic-speaking "Hittite" state, and of a royal line of Hittite Great Kings — 27 of whom are now known by name.

After the Kaskas
The Kaska were a loosely-affiliated Bronze Age non-Indo-European tribal people of mountainous Pontic Anatolia, known from Hittite sources...

 arrived to the kingdom's north, they twice attacked the city to the point where the kings had to move the royal seat to another city. Under Tudhaliya I
Tudhaliya I
Tudhaliya I was a king of the Hittite empire ca. the early 14th century BC .- Identity :...

, the Hittites moved north to Sapinuwa
Sapinuwa was a Bronze Age Hittite city at the location of modern Ortaköy in Turkey. It was one of the major Hittite religious and administrative centres, a military base and an occasional residence of several Hittite kings...

, returning later. Under Muwatalli II
Muwatalli II
Muwatalli II was a king of the New kingdom of the Hittite empire .- Biography :He was the eldest son of Mursili II and Queen Gassulawiya, and he had several siblings....

, they moved south to Tarhuntassa
Tarhuntassa is an as-yet undiscovered Bronze Age city south of Hattusa. Speculations of its site include Konya, Rough Cilicia, the Gok Su valley, and the vicinity of Kayseri. The site of Kilise Tepe has also been proposed for it. Still others speculate that Tarhuntassa may be a Kaskan name for the...

 but assigned Hattusili III
Hattusili III
Hattusili III was a king of the Hittite empire ca. 1267–1237 BC . He was the fourth and last son of Mursili II...

 as governor over Hattusa. Mursili III
Mursili III
Mursili III, also known as Urhi-Teshub, was a king of the Hittites who assumed the throne of the Hittite empire at Tarhuntassa upon his father's death around 1272 BCE. He was a cousin of Tudhaliya IV and Queen Maathorneferure.- Biography :...

 returned the seat to Hattusa, where the kings remained until the end of the Hittite kingdom in the 12th century BC.

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
Suppiluliuma I
Suppiluliuma I was king of the Hittites . He achieved fame as a great warrior and statesman, successfully challenging the then-dominant Egyptian empire for control of the lands between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates....

 (circa 1344–1322 BC (short chronology)). The inner city covered an area of some 0.8 km² and was occupied by a citadel with large administrative buildings and temples.
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. Modern estimates put the population of the city between 40,000 and 50,000 at the peak; In the early period the inner city housed a third that number. The dwelling houses which were built with timber and mud bricks have vanished from the site, leaving only the stone-built walls of temples and palaces.

The city was destroyed, together with the Hittite state itself, around 1200 BC, as part of the Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse
The Bronze Age collapse is a transition in southwestern Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean from the Late Bronze Age to the Early Iron Age that some historians believe was violent, sudden and culturally disruptive...

. The site was subsequently abandoned until 800 BC, when a modest Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

n settlement appeared in the area.

Discovery of the city

Ernest Chantre
Ernest Chantre
Ernest Chantre was a prominent French archaeologist and anthropologist.- References :* *...

 opened some trial trenches at the village then called Boğazköy, in 1893-94. Since 1906, the German Oriental Society has been excavating at Hattusa (with breaks during the two World Wars and the Depression, 1913–31 and 1940–51). Archaeological work is still carried out by the German Archaeological Institute
German Archaeological Institute
The German Archaeological Institute is an institution of research within the field of archaeology , and a "scientific corporation", with parentage of the federal Foreign Office of Germany-Origin:...

 (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut). Hugo Winckler
Hugo Winckler
Hugo Winckler was a German archaeologist and historian who uncovered the capital of the Hittite Empire at Boğazkale, Turkey....

 and Theodor Makridi Bey conducted the first excavations 1906, 1907, and 1911–13, which were resumed in 1931 under Kurt Bittel, followed by Peter Neve (site director 1963, general director 1978–94). One of the most important discoveries at the site 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, currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is a group of three archeological museums located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace.The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consists of three museums....

, details the terms of a peace settlement reached years after the Battle of Kadesh between the Hittites and the Egyptians under Ramesses II
Ramesses II
Ramesses II , referred to as Ramesses the Great, was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire...

, in 1259 or 1258 BC. A copy is on display in the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 as an example of the earliest known international peace treaties.

Although the 30,000 or so clay tablets recovered from Hattusa form the main corpus of Hittite literature, archives have since appeared at other centers in Anatolia, such as Tabigga (Maşat Höyük) and at Sapinuwa (Ortaköy). They are now divided between the archaeological museums of Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

 and Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...


The sphinx

A sphinx
A sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head or a cat head.The sphinx, in Greek tradition, has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and the face of a woman. She is mythicised as treacherous and merciless...

 pair from Hattusa was taken for restoration out of Turkey to Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 in 1917. One sphinx was returned while the other stayed in Germany as part of the regular division of the archeological finds. It was recently at the centre of a Turkish move to apply restrictions on German archaeologists working in the country. It is currently on display in Berlin's Pergamon Museum
Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon Museum is situated on the Museum Island in Berlin. The site was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed in twenty years, from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate...

. It was recently returned.

See also

  • Hittites
    The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

  • Yazılıkaya
    Yazılıkaya was a sanctuary of Hattusa, the capital city of the Hittite Empire, today in the Çorum Province, Turkey....

  • List of megalithic sites
  • Cities of the Ancient Near East
    Cities of the ancient Near East
    The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

  • Short chronology timeline
    Short chronology timeline
    The short chronology is one chronology of the Near Eastern Bronze and Early Iron Age, which fixes the reign of Hammurabi to 1728 BC – 1686 BC and the sack of Babylon to 1531 BC....

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