Turkey / Places to Visit Hattusha: the Hittite Capital

The archeological 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 Yazilikaya. The city enjoyed considerable influence in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium B.C.
Hattusha exerted dominating influence upon the civilizations of the 2nd and 1st millennia BC in Anatolia and northern Syria. The palaces, temples, trading quarters and necropolis of this political and religious metropolis provide a comprehensive picture of a capital and bear a unique testimony to the disappeared Hittite civilization.

The ruins of ancient Hattusha, the modern village of Bogâzkale and the capital of the Hittite empire, are framed by the grandiose backdrop of the high Anatolian plains 200 km to the east of Ankara. The site was partially occupied at the end of the 3rd millennium by a pre-Hittite population which, as was also the case in other regions, permitted Assyrian traders to settle there. From a number of epigraphic documents we learn that the city was then called Hattus (Hattush) and that it was destroyed around 1720 by Anitta, a Hittite sovereign. The vicissitudes of a complex history rich in events did not spare Hattusha from the 18th to 12th centuries and are borne witness to by monumental vestiges of the built-up and rupestral ensembles.

The site, discovered in 1834, was not comprehensively excavated until 1906, which was the memorable date of the discovery of a copy of a peace treaty between Hattushili III and the Pharaoh Ramses II, which made possible the identification of Hattusha. Since then, joint efforts on the part of German and Turkish archaeologists have made decisive progress in knowledge of the Hittite capital. The exploration of Hattusha should serve as a model of long-term archaeological research planning and has given rise to a host of publications and to a specialized periodical issued by the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut.

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