history of Hattusha (Hattusa-Hattusas/Boğazköy)
The first "settling in" around Boğazköy
took place in the 6th millennium BC during the Chalcolithic period, when
small widely scattered hamlets appeared most particularly on mountain slopes
and rocky outcroppings.
Late in the 3rd millenium BC, towards the
end of the Early Bronze Age, a Hattian settlement developed, marking the
beginning of continuous occupation at the site. The Hattians, native
Anatolians, called their town Hattush.
During the Middle Bronze Age the Hattian
occupation grew into a city of such significance that a Karum was
established here in the 19th and 18th centuries BC - a trading post of
Assyrian merchants who had come from Assur. With their caravans of donkeys
they transported goods to and from Mesopotamia, and along their route they
also dealt in local Anatolian products, thus stimulating a certain
"globalization". It was these Assyrian traders who first introduced writing
The ruins excavated demonstrate that the
city of Hattush was burned down in a great conflagration around 1700 BC.
Responsible was King Anitta from Kussar, who also put a curse on the site.
But already by the second half of the 17th century BC the temptation to
settle here again had obviously become overwhelming, for a Hittite king had
indeed chosen the site as his residence and capital. The Hattian Hattush was
now the Hittite Hattusha, and the king took the name of Hattushili, or "one
from Hattusha." This is the beginning of the story of the Hittite capital
and the Hittite Royals - until now, 27 kings are known by their names.
The Old Hittite city comprised an area of
almost 1 square kilometer; it was protected by a massive fortification wall.
On the high ridge of Büyükkale was the residence of the Great King, and the
city lay on the slope below to the northwest, reaching to the valley below.
Perhaps as early as the 14th century BC great effort was spent on the
development of the Upper City. This area south of the Old City was included
into the city limits through the erection of a new 3.3-km long defense wall
with several monumental gates, thus bringing the size of the city to 182
hectares. Within the wall a great many large structures were built, among
them many temples - houses for "the Thousand Gods of the Hatti Land".
Predecessors and Successors
Hattusha, or Boğazköy, lies in northern Central
Anatolia, just at the north edge of the ancient region of Cappadocia. Within a
dry continental climatic zone, we see scant steppe-vegetation; over some large
areas there is scarcely a tree in sight. The winters are long and cold; the
summers relatively short, but hot. This was not always the case, however; in
earlier times the climate was more moist, with lesser extremes in temperature.
Bordering the central steppe of Cappadocia (to the south of Yozgat) were more
temperate regions-most particularly to the north-with dense vegetation and
forests. The denser plant cover prevented erosion and raised the level of the
ground water, which again benefited the vegetation. Conditions were more
suitable for agriculture and husbandry than today, and the woods sheltered a
large variety of wild game.
Very few traces from the Paleolithic and
Mesolithic periods-when man was still a wandering hunter and gatherer-have been
discovered in northern Anatolia. Even from the Neolithic period, when man had
begun to settle down to a livelihood of raising his own crops and animals, there
is not much more evidence of his populating this region. The early farming
societies apparently did not find the wooded, mountainous landscape to their
liking. The open meadows and milder climates to the south must have been more
attractive, for that is where the first developed farming communities sprang up;
of these, �G7;atal Hüyük near Cumra in the Konya Plain is perhaps the best
The first "settling in" around Boğazköy took
place in the 6th millennium BC during the Chalcolithic period, when small widely
scattered hamlets appeared most particularly on mountain slopes and rocky
outcroppings. Such a small settlement on the heights of the Büyükkaya ridge
represents the earliest known inhabitancy within the Hattusha city limits. A
contemporary settlement has also been found near Yarıkkaya, some two kilometers
NE of Hattusha.
In the following millennia settlement in this
wooded landscape of northern Anatolia increased very slowly. It was first in the
3rd millennium BC-during the Early Bronze Age-that coherent zones of habitation,
settlements that actively traded with one another, developed and founded the
basis for advancement in society. Small settlements grew into political and
religious centers, wielding their influence over larger and larger dominions.
The discovery and development of the mineral sources in northern Anatolia is
believed to have been one of the stimulating factors. One thriving center was
located at Alaca Höyük, only 25 km from Hattusha/Boğazköy. The astoundingly rich
chamber tombs (known as the Royal Graves) discovered at Alaca Höyük yielded
elegantly fashioned weapons, jewelry, and sculpture, as well as implements and
vessels of gold, silver, electron, bronze-and even iron-from a period as early
as 2400-2200 BC. The inhabitants of the site were Hatti, the natives of north
and Central Anatolia and the predecessors of the Hittites in this region.
Soon there was a Hattian settlement at Boğazköy
as well, and this habitation, founded towards the end of the Early Bronze Age,
marked the beginning of continuous occupation at the site. Remnants of the
Hattian settlement have been located under the fill of the Hittite Lower City.
During this period there was also occupation on the high ridges of Büyükkaya and
Büyükkale, with evidence even of fortification walls.
During the Middle Bronze Age the Hattian
occupation grew into a city of such significance that a Karum was established
here in the 19th and 18th centuries BC - a trading post of Assyrian merchants
who had come from Assur (in the middle Tigris valley, now a part of northern
Iraq) to procure natural resources such as copper, silver, gold and precious
stones. Long caravans of donkeys transported these materials to Mesopotamia,
where they loaded Mesopotamian goods for exchange-including tin, garments and
fabric-and set out on the return journey. Along their route the Assyrian
merchants also dealt in local Anatolian products; the whole of eastern Anatolia
was enmeshed in the net of their routes, knotted together by their trade
colonies. In Central Anatolia they established such colonies at several centers
of Hattian rule. The Assyrian traders and their families lived in separate
residential quarters; they enjoyed the protection of their Hattian lords and
paid taxes in return. The center of their network was located in Kanesh/Nesha
(at the site of Kültepe near Kayseri).
It was these Assyrian traders who first
introduced writing to Anatolia, for business could hardly be transacted without
documentation. Purchases and sales, orders, credits, and exchanges were all
recorded in Akkadian cuneiform writing on clay tablets. On these tablets the
name of the city was written as well; Boğazköy was still-or already, we had
During this era, known as the Karum period,
fortifications were laid out on Büyükkale. It would seem that the rulers of
Hattush resided there; the rest of the Hattian settlement stretched from the
slope below Büyükkale to the area where the Great Temple of the Hittites was
later erected. The Karum of the Assyrian traders lay just to the north. Both the
settlement and the Karum must also have been fortified against enemy attacks.
During these first centuries of the 2nd
millennium BC there appears to have been frequent strife in Central Anatolia
between the local Hattian rulers and the immigrant Hittite groups who were
anxious to consolidate their power. The ruins excavated demonstrate that the
city of Hattush was burned down in a great conflagration around 1700 BC. The
destruction of the city was even inscribed in cuneiform; a King Anitta of Kushar
reports that he has defeated King Piyushti of Hattush and destroyed his city.
"At night I took the city by force; I have sown weeds in its place. Should any
king after me attempt to resettle Hattush," he wrote, "may the Weathergod of
Heaven strike him down." Anitta chose the city of Kanesh/Nesha, some 160 km to
the southeast and already quite influential as the center of the Assyrian trade
colonies, as his capital.
We do not know how long Anitta's curse on the
city of Hattush was respected, but the advantages of the site and the many
springs there were certainly enough to have attracted settlers relatively soon.
By the second half of the 17th century BC the temptation had obviously become
overwhelming, for a Hittite king had indeed chosen the site as his residence and
capital. The Hattian Hattush was now the Hittite Hattusha.
Unfortunately very little is known about the
origins of the Hittites. Their language belongs to the Indo-European family, and
it is assumed that they immigrated into Central Anatolia via the Caucasus
sometime during the second half of the 3rd millennium BC. To ascribe any date to
their arrival is difficult, particularly because there is evidence neither of
violent invasion nor of massive population shift. They must have moved into
Anatolia little by little, in small groups that mingled to some extent with the
autochthonous Hattian population. Other Indo-Europeans were also drifting into
Anatolia at around this time: the Luvians into the south and west, and the
Palaians into the north and northwest.
The Hittites retained the name Hatti as the
designation for their land. Their language, however, they called Neshian after
the former capital of Kanish/Nesha, mentioned above. The first king in Hattusha/Boğazköy
came-like Anitta-from Kushar, a city still awaiting rediscovery. Nonetheless he
took the name of Hattushili, or "one from Hattusha." During his reign cuneiform
writing was introduced once again; it had fallen out of use with the breakdown
of the Assyrian trade network. Writing developed into a tradition, leaving
behind a veritable information bank in the archives of clay tablets; these
include official Hittite correspondence and contracts, as well as legal codes,
procedures for cult ceremony, oracular prophecies and literature of the ancient
Near East. Although the 30,000 or so clay tablets recovered from 1906 onwards in
the archives of Hattusha form the main corpus, archives have since appeared at
other Hittite centers in Anatolia: Tabigga/Maşat Höyük (Tokat province),
Shapinuwa/Ortaköy (�G7;orum province) and Sarissa/Kuşaklı (Sivas province).
The Great King Hattushili I built an empire
through the military campaigns he directed at sites in Central Anatolia and
further south over the Taurus Mountains into northern Syria. His successor
Murshili continued his efforts to the south in hopes of vanquishing the
city-states in Syria and gaining control of the trade routes to Mesopotamia.
Aleppo fell into the hands of the Hittites, and the army pressed onward as far
as Babylon (as the crow flies, 1,200 km from Hattusha!), where it toppled the
dynasty of Hammurabi. A period of unrest followed the murder of Murshili, and in
these troubled times the lands south of the Taurus as well as distant regions in
the south and east of Anatolia were soon snatched from Hittite control by the
Hurrian Kingdom of the Mittanni.
It would make too long a diversion to follow
all the waning and waxing of Hittite power over the following decades of
Anatolian history. The armies remained active in many regions and advanced again
to Aleppo in the north of Syria. Only too often would the conquered cities and
states, adopted as tax-paying vassals, soon become unfaithful. Meanwhile, the
attacks of marauding Kashkan tribes living in the mountains of north-Central
Anatolia had become a direct threat to the Hittite capital. One cuneiform text
from around 1400 BC during the reign of the Great King Tudhaliya III reports
that ". . . Hattusha, the city, was burned to the ground and only ( . . . ( the
Heshti-House of ( . . . ( remained standing." By the end of this period the
domain under direct Hittite control had shrunk once more to limits within the
Central Anatolia plateau and the city found itself in a period of deep crisis.
The Old Hittite city comprised the same area as
that of its Hattian predecessor; on the high ridge of Büyükkale was the
residence of the Great King, and the city lay on the slope below to the
northwest, reaching to the valley below and protected to the west by a massive
fortification wall. It would appear that the northern section of the settlement
and the rocky crest of Büyükkaya were also relatively soon enclosed by
fortifications and incorporated into the city. The enclosed city would then have
boasted dimensions of approximately 0.9 x 1.2 km, and there may well have been
further residential quarters just outside the city walls.
With the Great King Shupiluliuma I coming into
power, the Hittites again had a ruler who was able to lead their sadly weakened
and diminished realm to a new magnitude. They finally managed to rupture the
power of the Mitanni empire, the mighty opponent in the Tigris and Euphrates
basin (today the southeast of Turkey and the northern parts of Syria and Iraq).
With Hittite territory now bordering directly on the northernmost province of
Pharaonic Egypt, there was soon strife between these two great powers. They came
face to face in the famous Battle of Khadesh on the Orontes (near Homs in Syria)
in ca.1274 BC, the army of the Great King Muwattalli II pitched against that of
the Pharaoh Ramses II. The battle ended in a draw, and in the development of a
relationship between the two lands that led within a few years to a peace treaty
which staunchly endured throughout the rest of the Hittite Empire period. (In
the New York Headquarters of the United Nations an enlarged copy of a clay
tablet from Hattusha setting out the conditions of the agreement hangs on the
wall as an example of one of the earliest international peace treaties in the
During the reign of Muvattalli, Hattusha lost
its role as the capital for a short while when the King moved his residency to
Tarhuntasha, a city in the southwest-another site still awaiting discovery. It
was not long before his successor, Murshili III, returned to Hattusha only to be
quickly deposed by his uncle Hattushili III. It was under this ruler and his son
Tudhaliya IV. that the city went through another time of revival; many of the
structures visible today stem from this period. Great effort was spent
apparently on the development of the Upper City, the area south of the Old City,
which had been included into the city limits perhaps as early as the 14th
century BC. The erection of a new 3.3-km long defense wall along the heights to
the south of the city had brought the enclosed area from 78 to 180 hectare.
Within the wall a great many large structures were built, among them many
temples. In addition, the Royal Citadel was completely renovated into a large
palace with colonnaded stoas, residences, and storage facilities as well as an
audience- or reception hall. Tudhaliya IV is credited with having brought the
rock sanctuary at Yazılıkaya to its ultimate arrangement. Hattusha was, after
all, not only the political center of the Hittite state, but the religious
center of the land as well-residence of "the Thousand Gods of the Hatti-Land".
The end, however, was not far off.
Unfortunately, aside from some biographies of their leaders, the Hittites left
practically no historical texts; what we know of the final decline has been
pieced together, a mosaic of bits and pieces of information: succession to the
throne was contested, there were years of poor harvests, and the state was
weakened by enemy attacks. Toward the end of the 13th century BC, precautionary
measures taken in the city reflect the threat of attack from outside; additional
fortifications and breach walls were erected, and the grain supplies were
barricaded within a separate citadel on Büyükkaya. Many temples in the Upper
City had been allowed to fall into ruins, and among these a residential area
sprang up, apparently to house those seeking refuge within the city walls.
Thus the great empire came to an end, bringing
with it the close of the Bronze Age in Central Anatolia. It was indeed a time of
unrest throughout the whole of the Mediterranean region, the era when the
coastal populations were suffering piratical attacks at the hands of the
so-called Sea Peoples. Entire populations were migrating from one place to
another, and in Central Anatolia there was no one to take over the empire
structured by the Hittites; the scant population left in the region retreated
into a pastoral, perhaps even a partially nomadic way of life.
With the decline of its great empire, the
capital lost its influence and thereby also its role as a political, economic
and religious center. Little by little its residents drifted away and certainly
the last known Hittite king, the Great King Shupiluliuma II, son of Tudhaliya
IV, did not remain in Hattusha to the bitter end. He may well have moved his
court elsewhere, thus sealing the fate of the city.
Various complexes of the Empire period-the
royal palace, certain temples, and stretches of the fortification walls among
them-reveal signs of a fiery destruction. At least part of this devastation can
only be attributed to the hands of an enemy. When the invaders entered the city,
however, they must have found it nearly deserted, for the rooms destroyed by the
fire had already been virtually cleared of their contents. Only what was
worthless or stationary had been left behind. To the former category belong the
records, the documents on file in the clay tablet archives; to the second,
furnishings such as the huge storage vessels in the temple magazines.
Until very recently we were dependent entirely
on speculation as to who was responsible for the final desertion of the Hittite
city. No trace whatever had been found of invaders who took over the site and
settled here. It was assumed that the Kashkans, the restless northern neighbors
of the Hittites, had dealt the dying city the fatal blow. Finally in 1996 the
small settlement of a foreign population was discovered on the ridge of
Büyükkaya. These people, who were by no means Hittites, settled down here after
the desertion of the city. With them begins the Iron Age history of the site.
The first phase of the Iron Age in Central
Anatolia was often spoken of as the Dark Ages because there were almost no
traces testifying to inhabitancy over the first 300 years following the demise
of the Hittite Empire. Recently, however, settlements-including that on
Büyükkaya in the northeast of the city Hattusha/Boğazköy-have been introduced to
the literature. The inhabitants of these settlements lacked much of what the
Hittites had taken for granted. They shaped their pottery by hand, for example,
without aid of the potter's wheel, which had enabled mass production of pottery
in the Hittite community. Their primitive dwellings had nothing in common with
the architecture of the Hittites, and writing was unknown to them. With a
material culture resembling that of their Early and Middle Bronze Age ancestors,
they obviously represent native (northern) Anatolian inhabitants who moved in to
settle in the former heartland of the Hittites after the fall of the empire.
There is thus no reason they could not have been the Kashkans mentioned above.
They came to Hattusha not as conquerers, but as squatters; there were certainly
many things useful to them to be found in the ruins.
Traces of this "Dark-Age" settlement of the
early Iron Age are by no means limited only to the settlement on Büyükkaya;
evidence of these people has been found in the Lower City near the House on the
Slope, on the rocky platform of Büyükkale and in the area of Temple 7 in the
Upper City. At the beginning of the middle Iron Age in the 9th century BC, their
presence on Büyükkale developed into a sizable settlement incorporating the
whole of the rocky outcropping. By the 8th century, the community had spread
out, inhabiting parts of the Lower City and the citadel on Büyükkale. In the
early- to mid-7th century the settlers fortified Büyükkale . At the same time,
there was a marked decrease in the population settled in the Lower City.
Büyükkaya was deserted as well. This may have been a response to invasions of
the Cimmerians, who pushed their way from the steppes of Eurasia into Central
Anatolia around 700/680 BC, breaking up the Phrygian realm of King Midas.
Besides the fortified citadel on Büyükkale, which was very densely built up, the
Southern Citadel was established, as well as residential areas above the East
Ponds and near Nişantaş.
This middle- and late Iron Age settlement is
traditionally termed "Phrygian" because it shares many features in common with
sites within the Phrygian nuclear zone in western Anatolia. Similarities include
the architecture as well as the material culture. The cult of the Phrygian
mother-goddess Cybele is also attested here; a lovely depiction of Cybele was
found at the Level-Ia southeast gate at Büyükkale. Potsherds with symbols of
Phrygian script scratched upon them supply further proof of connections with the
west, as do a few pieces of original East-Greek imported wares. The Central
Anatolian and northern Cappadocian settlements had obviously developed close
ties with the western regions of Central Anatolia during this period, but any
sizable migration of Phrygians into this area is highly unlikely. Unfortunately
we do not know the name of the Iron Age settlement here, but we can now rule out
the earlier suggestion of Pteria, for that city has since been located at Mount
Kerkenes, some 40 km southeast of Hattusha/Boğazköy.
In 585 BC all the Central Anatolian land east
of the river Kızılırmak (the Halys of antiquity) fell into the hands of the
Persian Medes, and still later, into the hands of the Persian Achaemenids. These
"Persian times," however, appear not to have had much effect on the development
of settlement here in Hattusha/Boğazköy; tradition carried on as before.
Although in the 5th century BC the site seems to have lost significance, it
nevertheless remained inhabited.
The Asian expedition of Alexander the Great
marks the beginnings of the Hellenistic period in Asia Minor. Although at first
it had little impact on Central Anatolia, in the first half of the 3rd century
BC Celtic Galatian emigrants from central Europe settled here. The site of
Tavium near the village Büyük Nefesköy some 20 km south of Boğazköy became the
seat of the Trokmer clan, who took the land around Hattusha/Boğazköy under their
control. Büyükkale once again became a fortified citadel, and a small village
occupied part of what had been the Lower City. The painted pottery
characteristic of the Galatians was recovered here, as well as vessels imported
from the Hellenistic cities along the west coast.
In 25 BC the lands of the Trokmer came under
the administration of the Romans, who built a paved road from Tavium northwards
(possibly to Amasya) in the first century AD. The road ran behind the mountain
ridge west of Hattusha/Boğazköy and then crossed the valley of the Budaközü
stream near the village of Yekbas/Evren a few kilometers north of Boğazkale.
Evidence of the Roman presence within the area of the city from this and the
following centuries includes scattered building remains, graves, and traces of
Although not many remains from the early
Byzantine period have been recognized, in middle Byzantine times there was a
10th- through 11th century village in the area of the Upper City, to the north
of the Hittite Temple District. (Several small churches and a large cemetery
here, as well as various farmsteads have been excavated and partially restored.)
The Hittite complex on the rocks of Sarıkale was renovated and enclosed by a
fortification wall at this time, most probably to serve as the residence for the
local dignitaries. Byzantine remains are found in the Lower City as well. The
most noticeable is the apse of a church cut into the rock called Mihraplıkaya (
= rock with a prayer-niche) (General Plan: No.36).
A secure date for the Byzantine settlement is
given by the coins recovered there. The latest coins, from the late 11th
century, tell us when the settlement was deserted. This date corresponds with
the Battle of Malazgırt on the shores of Lake Van in 1071. It was then under the
ruler Emperor Romanos IV that the Byzantines lost their control over vast areas
of Anatolia to the Seljuk Sultan Alpaslan.
Over the next few centuries, settlement in the
area seems to have been quite sparse. This changed in the 16th century when a
group of the Türkmen clan known as the Dülkadiroğlu came from Maraş to resettle
here. Their first settlement was at Yekbas, three kilometers to the north; it
was towards the end of the 17th century that they moved here and erected the
Konak (the residence of the most important) and their village just at the foot
of the former Hittite capital. The locality was then known as Boğazköy ( = gorge
village), which was later changed to Boğazkale ( = gorge fortress). It is today
a local administrative center in the Province of Corum.