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Temple 1 and storerooms


Temple 1 and the Lower City

Temple 1 and storerooms

This temple, also known as The Great Temple, is the largest building structure in the city of Hattusha. It was used during the Empire Period, but perhaps built even earlier. The temple measures 65 x 42 m, and together with the storerooms that surround it, the temple complex covers an area of approximately 14,500 m². Carefully worked limestone blocks also form the striking wall socles that often still stand to their original height of 1.5 m. Some of the blocks are up to five meters in length and weight 20 tons or more. The walls themselves are no longer to be seen, for like the walls of the other structures in the Hittite city, they too were of a massive timber frame construction filled with mudbrick. The roof of the Great Temple consisted of a ceiling of timbers sealed with mud.

The court, open to the sky, was surrounded by high walls and paved with large flat stones (some of which are preserved in the eastern-the back right-corner). Although today the court makes rather a drab impression, we know from the Hittite texts that most celebrations took place in the temple courtyards; with a little imagination you should be able to picture the court milling with brightly dressed onlookers and brightened by standards and pennants, the air filled with music and incense. The cuneiform tablets of the Hittites describe such ceremonies in detail.

Reconstruction of the three main parts of the Temple 1 complex: the temple proper (in red), the storage magazines (in yellow), and the Southern District with the "House of Operations" (in green) (after W. Schirmer)

The cult chambers, the Holy of Holies, were situated at the north-eastern side of the court. The fact that there are two cult chambers here indicates that the temple was a twin temple dedicated to two deities. Considering the size of the temple, it is only appropriate that the two most important deities of the Land were honored here: the Weather God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of Arinna. Only the King and Queen-as the High Priests of the Land-and a few select temple priests could reach the innermost sanctuary.

Other rooms in the temple could also have been used for rituals; they also served as dressing rooms for the priests and storage for cult paraphernalia. They were unfortunately mostly empty when discovered, as were the 82 ground-floor rooms on the long storage magazines which surrounded the temple. The only finds left were huge pottery vessels sunk into the ground, some of which are still in place.

Large vessels in the storerooms of Temple 1

The remains of hundreds of such vessels were found in the long narrow storerooms along the northwestern aisle. They held up to 2000 liters apiece and provided storage for the temple provender, which must have included cereal grains, dried beans and the like, oil and wine. The contents of the storerooms along the aisle on the opposite side of the temple were different; thousands of cuneiform tablets and fragments were found here, fallen from the wooden shelves on which they were once arranged like archives.

Cuneiform Tablet







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