Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

Jessica Miley

History can be unfair at times and it looked like The Hittite Empire was going to be forgotten. Until the turn of the 20th Century, the existence of the Hittite was more myth than fact. This all changed with the discovery of the city of Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite Empire.

Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

[Image Source: Javierfv1212/Wikimedia Commons]

The city of Hattusa is now a popular tourist attraction in Turkey. It is located near Boğazkale close to Kızılırmak River. During the reign of the Hittite Empire whose kingdom stretched from Anatolia to Northern Syria, Hattusa played a critical role as the capital and the center of this powerful empire.

Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

Yerkapı [Image Source: Maarten/Flickr]

The first ever peace treaty

The Hittite Empire has played an astounding role in history. They fought the hugely powerful Egyptian Empire in the battle of Kadesh, almost killing the Pharaoh, Ramesses the Great. Later they created another kind of history by signing what is considered to be the world's first peace treaty.

Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

Treaty of Kadesh [Image Source: locanus/Wikimedia Commons]

The deal with the Egyptians was additionally sealed by Ramesses II marrying a Hittite princess.  

Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

[Image Source: Panegyrics of Granovetter/Flickr]

Hittites developed the lightest and fastest chariots

It was during these great battles that the Hittites developed the lightest and fastest chariots in the world and despite technically being categorised as being in the Bronze Age, they were already manipulating steel for use in weapons and tools. When the city of Hattusa was discovered and excavated, so too were tens of thousands of clay tablets that documented much of the life of the Hittites Empire.  Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

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[Image Source: Verity Cridland/Flickr]

The location of Hattusa was perfect for a long and safe reign by the Empire. It is at the southern end of the Budaközü Plain, surrounded by rich agricultural land and forests that provided adequate fuel and building material. At the height of the city, it would have covered an area about 1.8 square kilometres and was surrounded by massive secure walls.
Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

[Image Source: Paul/Flickr]

The royal residence, or acropolis, was built on a high ridge in the centre of the city. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people are believed to have lived in the city at its peak. Although the details are unknown, it is reported that Hattusa and the Hittite Empire were destroyed around the 12th Century BC. Excavations of the site indicate that large portions of the city were destroyed by fire after the citizens were evacuated.

Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

Reconstructed city wall, Hattusa, Turkey. [Image Source: Rita1234/Wikimedia Commons]

Stolen artefacts returned to site by German Archeologists

A lot of the evacuation and archaeology work of the city and surrounds has been completed by German teams.

Hattusa: The Heart of the Hittite Empire

Lion Gate, Hattusa, Turkey [Image Source: Bernard Gagnon/Wikimedia Commons]

In 1917 two sphinxes were removed from the southern gate of the city and taken to Germany for restoration. One well-preserved sphinx was returned to Istanbul in 1927 and was on display in the Istanbul Archeology Museum. The remaining sphinx was left in Germany and displayed at the Pergamon Museum despite numerous requests from Turkey to have it returned. The sphinx was finally returned to the site in 2011, after the Turkish government threatened to impose restrictions on German archaeologists working across the county. Both sphinxes are now on display at the Boğazköy Museum outside the Hattusa ruins.

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

Sources: Amusing Planet, Unesco

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