Located within the boundaries of Boğazkale District, southwest of Çorum, Hattusas had served as the capital of the Hittite Empire for 450 years, between 1650-1200 BC, extending over a 180-hectare rough and rocky terrain. During the Hittite Empire, this magnificent city used to be surrounded by 6 kilometers long city walls with high towers at certain intervals. The monumental gateways through these walls made entries and exits possible at old times. Such gates as Aslanlı Kapı (which has lion statues on it- so to say, the Lion’s Gate), the Sphinx Gate and the Royal Gate are decorated with reliefs indicating a high talent and taste of delicate stonemasonry. At the farthest southern point of the city, the walls passes over a piled earth level considered to be the city’s crown. Just beneath the Sphinx Gate standing at the central point here, a potern tunnel of 71 meters was formed. The restoration works carried out there up to now with an original system has transformed the ancient capital city, which still stands up against the pressure of time, into an open air museum.
Nation of One Thousand Gods
The Hittite Empire ruled across a wide geography, dominating lots of people of different origins. With this attempt seen as a political preference, the gods of different communities were brought together under an official pantheon. In so doing, different communities under the dominance of Hittites were made to live together under a central power. Together with their unique cultural elements, the Indo-European Hittites had adopted many other cultural details of various cultures they met and found acceptable to their own while defining themselves as the Nation of One Thousand Gods. Hattusas was not only the administrative capital but also the religious centre of the whole Empire. As one of the leading 31 temples of Hittites, the Great Temple (Büyük Mabet)was the place wherein they worshipped two gods they considered as the most powerful- Storm God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of the Arinna City. As the most impressive centre of divinity, Yazılıkaya Open Air Shrine was especially used for the new year celebrations during spring months. The leading gods and goddesses inscribed, in series, onto rocks best reflect the religious diversity of the Hittites. Since the lands of Anatolia being the passageways between the East and the West were under the control of Hittites, the mythological stories created by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia were first carried to Hittities from Hurrians. And then, Hittites took them further and transported them to the Ancient Greek Civilization.
Hattuşaş on UNESCO’s World Heritage List
Hattusas was inscribed to the World Heritage List of UNESCO in 1986. Some of the reasons why Hatussas was added to the World Heritage List of UNESCO are as follows:
- Hattusas represents a matchless artistic success with its ruins as well as with the Lion’s Gate, the Royal Gate and Yazılıkaya Open Air Shrine,
- Hattusas established a strong dominance over Anatolian and Northern Syrian civilizations in the first and second millennia BC,
- As a political and religious capital, it displayed a comprehensive appearance with palaces, temples, trade centres and such,
- Hattusas was the sole witness of the collapse of the Hittite Civilization and last but not least, this ancient capital has perfectly preserved some groups of structural and architectural artworks such as King’s Palace, temples and some other building foundations.
Furthermore, the cuneiform tablet archives of Hattusas that symbolize the oldest recorded Indo-European language became involved in UNESCO’s Memory of World Register in 2001. And so, Hattusas still enjoys the privilege to be the first, and for now, the last asset placed in both cruical lists of UNESCO.