Hattusas, the one-time Hittite capital and fortress is situated near the present village of Boğazköy (Boğazkale) thirty kilometers north of Yozgat, near the Ankara—Sivas highway. It was discovered in the eighteen-thirties accidentally by the French explorer Charles Felix Texier (1802-71) who visited the village while searching for the lost Roman city of Tavium. From the villagers he learned of the presence of extensive ruins in the neighborhood and went to survey them, convinced that he found the Roman city.

In 1839, he published his findings in Paris, in which he presented detailed description telling of “…long walls around a city with a pair of impressive gates, one of which is guarded by a relief depicting a sphynx, the other one by a pair of sculpted lions. In front of the city stood a large temple of Jupiter. Later, however, important findings compelled me to abandon this hastily conceived idea…”

Texier did not know the real nature of his discovery, but he realized that the ruins had nothing to do with Roman civilization of any epoch.

Then he visited the sanctuary of Yazilikaya (Inscribed Rock) and saw the astounding reliefs depicting the procession of 66 deities; strange ideograms and “cartouches” some of which reminded him of those in Egypt.

After Texier, William Hamilton, an Englishman, visited the site, likewise entertaining the idea of having seen the ruins of Tavium.

Twenty kilometers northeast of the village, Hamilton came to the ruins of Alacahüyük but could not identify the remains with any known civilization.

The ruins of Hattusas are extensive and spread over a low hill, with excavations covering an area of circa six square kilometers. The already uncovered ruins represent different historical periods. The distance from the southern entrance, the Sphynx Gate, to the northernmost point is three kilometers. The somewhat elongated site is two kilometers wide.

In the northern section, ancient Hattusas was dated to the period of the Assyrian trading colonies (2000-1800 B.C.). There are the ruins of a large temple of the Weather God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of Arinna, the site where over ten thousand clay tablets of the Royal Archives have been unearthed. In ancient times the temple was encircled by a high wall.

Eight hundred meters distant are the ruins of the Acropolis with its own circuit and reinforced with towers, constructed during the Empire Period (14th century B.C.). South of the Acropolis the remains of a small citadel are not yet excavated. Nearby is the so called Target Hill with the ruins of a castle. The Yellow Castle and the New Castle are located between the hill and the Lion Gate of the western wall. In the vicinity of the Sphynx Gate are the foundations of four temples.

Methodical excavations at Hattusas initiated in 1906 and continued in 1911-1912 under the supervision of Dr. Hugo Winckler and archeologist Otto Puchstein. Archeologist Kurt Bittel continued the work between 1931 and 1939.

When the Czech linguist Friedrich Hrozny engaged himself in the monumental task of translating ideograms and hieroglyphs into phonetical words, he soon discovered a series of astonishing facts. The Hittite term for eating, eizzatteni, revealed strange “coincidences”: edere in Latin, eat in English, essen in German and ezzann  in archaic high German.

The Hittite waadarma for water was wasser in German and wadar in old Saxon.

Antique German terms in Anatolia?

In the course of his labor, Hrozny gathered scores of similarities which could not be attributed to mere coincidences.

The Hittites said uga for the Latin ego; kuis for quis; eszi for est (east) nash for nos; wiforvinum (wine) and memal for the German Meh1 (flour), while the Hittite pedan (place) seemed related to the Greek pedon (land, soil) and pedar sounded like the German Feder and English Feather.

Eventually, Hrowny’s list of related terms has grown into a meritorious dictionary of the Hittite language, establishing its Indo-European origin.

At long last, the veil of mystery lifted and the real Hittites “entered” into the history of mankind. The annals of kings were deciphered and interpreted.

“Anittas, son of Pitkhana and King of Kussara speaks: I was favored by the Storm God of Heaven and I was favored by the Heavenly God of Tempest. The King of Nesa fell prisoner to the King of Kussara who left his city with his army and captured Nesa by assault at night. I captured the King of Nesa but caused no harm to the inhabitants whom I treated in a fatherly manner. I, Anittas the Great King restored God Siusummi from Zalpuwa to Nesa. Huzziyas, the King of Zalpuwa I carried to Nesa alive.”

In the same period, Anittas conquered Hattusas, the city which later bestowed upon his people the name “Hatti” and which became the capital of the Hittite Kingdom and Empire.

“The inhabitants of Hattusas were starving and so I left them; but when their hunger became unbearable, God Siusummi ceded the city to God Halmasuitta and during the night I seized it by assault”.

But while Anittas had treated the inhabitants of Nesa “in a fatherly manner,” he destroyed Hattusas and pronounced a curse upon its ruins. The reason behind his peculiar act is unknown.

“I have thrown down the walls and planted poisonous weed upon the ruins. He who shall become king after me and repopulates Hattusas should be struck dead by the heavenly God of Tempest.”

It is still one of the unsolved Hittite riddles that the accursed city would not only become reconstructed a hundred years later by King Labarnas but would be chosen for capital with Labarnas assuming the throne name Hattusilis.

King Anittas proceeded with his wars to subjugate his neighbors.

“The following year, I assembled my army against the Prince of Salatiwara. When I was about to descend into battle, the ruler of Buruskhanda came to my presence with homage, throne and scepter of Iron. But when I returned to Nesa, I took the ruler of Buruskhanda with me…” (obviously as a hostage despite his voluntary submission).

Anittas proudly states that his army comprised 1400 mounted troops and 40 war chariots; an apparently meagre force that was nevertheless sufficient for making him the strongest ruler in Anatolia.

The clay tablets of the Royal Archives revealed many important aspects of life in the Hittite realm including well-conceived, written laws that regulated religious and social behavior, diplomacy and trade, both internal and external, as there were regular commercial exchanges between Hattiland and Babylon and Assyria.

Both civil and criminal laws were astonishingly advanced and in a sense just. Theft, for instance, was punished with the triple restitution of the stolen item; if someone stole a cow or a mule he had to restitute three cows, or mules. The theft of a valuable jewel, gold or silver was to be made good through the threefold payment of their actual value. If the thief was unable to comply, he was put in chains and handed over to the injured party to work as slave for the period necessary to earn his fine.

Bodily harm caused to someone else was to be compensated for through the payment of silver as indemnity, the quantity depending on the gravity of the injury. Murderers were simply handed over to the family of the deceased for judgment. “Should the father, brother or wife of the murdered man decide that the assassin should die, he shall die. Should they decide that the murderer should labor as slave, he shall labor.”

Enlightened were the laws that protected women, especially pregnant women, from bodily harm with severe penalties, even for cruel husbands. If a pregnant woman died of the injuries caused by her husband, the fate of the man depended upon the judgement of the familiars of the wife.

One of the principal laws forbade incestous relationships of all kind.

“The brother must not lie neither with his sister nor with his cousin. He who trespasses upon this law in Hattusas shall not remain in life but shall be put to death. Let it be that his land is uncivilized where man lies with his sister or cousin. In Hattusas this is not permitted.”

“Should a sister, stepsister or cousin of your wife come to you, give her food and drink and be of good cheers; but you should not desire to possess her because this is not permitted and shall be punished with death. Do not attempt it, not even if she or someone else should try to induce you. Close your ears to them and abstain, observing a sacred oath that should not be violated.”

“You should not touch a Lady of the Court, let her be a free woman or a temple slave: Do not go near her and do not talk to her. Should you encounter a Lady of the Court in the open, step aside and give her way.”

Among the deciphered documents was a most peculiar exchange of letters between Ank-En-Amon, Queen of Egypt (Khem) and King Suppiluliumas of the Hittites. The Queen wrote: “My spouse Tut-Enk-Amun died and I am a widow and I have no son. You have many sons. If you give me one of your sons, he shall be my husband and pharaoh of my land. Because I shall never accept any of my subjects for husband.”

Here it should be mentioned that succession of royalty in ancient Egypt proceeded along the maternal line “for the protection of the royal blood.” The identity of the mother was certain, while that of the father’s never. Therefore the man who married the queen became pharaoh and if the pharaoh wanted to ensure the succession of his son he married his son to his eldest daughter and sometimes, to his second daughter as well. Because  in   case   his  wife   and  eldest  daughter  died  and  the daughter in succession was already married, her husband would become the next pharaoh.

King Suppiluliumas received the Queen’s letter at Carchemish. He was skeptical and suspected some trap, for why should the widow of a pharaoh voluntarily submit her country to Hittite overlordship? Especially when a Hittite army has already invaded Lebanon, an Egyptian protectorate. Yet the Queen wished a Hittite prince for consort. Although it happened in the past that a pharaoh would choose a foreign wife, but the pharaoh himself would always be Egyptian.

Unfortunately, the response of Suppiluliumas has not been found but some may guess its negative content from a second extant letter of Queen Ank-En-Amon.

“I have not written to any other king. Only to you I have written, for you have many sons. Give me one of them for husband and he shall be the King of Egypt.”

The Queen must have been desperate for she had only seventy days to marry a man of her choice, before being obliged to accept Eie, the High Priest for husband — her own grandfather who coveted the throne.

History knows little of her, except that she was the daughter of Amenophis IV, better known as Akhenaton and the famous Nefertiti; and that she was married in her early childhood to Tut-Ank-Amun, then only about ten years old. The short life of her husband was wholly insignificant from the historical point of view, and he owes his fame solely to the immense treasures discovered in his tomb.

In the end, the Hittite ruler sent off his son Zananza with an escort, but the prince never arrived in Egypt. He was assassinated on his way, very likely fostered by Eie who did, in fact, marry his granddaughter and became pharaoh. He reigned only for a couple of months and died poisoned. It is easy to imagine by whom!

Before the discovery of the Royal Archives of Hattusas and their decipherment, our only knowledge of the Hittites came from the Bible. Apart from some already cited entries, the Old Testament mentions that when Abraham wanted to bury his wife Sarah, he had to ask permission from the Hittites because his chosen site was in their territory.

“Abraham spoke to the sons of Heth. I am a stranger here, only passing. Give me a piece of property where I may bury my dead. And the sons of Heth answered: You are a Prince of God among us. Bury your dead unto the finest place of land and it shall be yours”.

Esau, grandson of Abraham and brother of Jacob married Judit, the daughter of Beeri, the Hittite. When King David fell in love with Betsabea, he sent her husband Uria, the Hittite, into a combat engagement where he would surely be killed.

Such and similar entries in the Bible fostered the idea that the Hittites were established close to the boundaries of Israel and this belief persisted until the famous inscriptions of Tel-El-Amarna induced the scholars to look fot the Land of Hatti more northward, deep in present Turkey, where in fact began to appear Hittite monuments and relics in ever increasing number. In the end, Hattusas emerged as the one-time capital of a mighty empire, the culture of which was neither Babylonian or Assyrian or Egyptian.

The folks mentioned in the Holy Scriptures were the socalled Neo-Hittites, a handful of principalities based on Carchemish wich survived the great Phrygian onslaught that destroyed the Hittite Empire and burned Hattusas.

Clay tablets recording historical events were scarce but we learned a great deal about commerce and banking, merchandise and its prices over two thousand years before the birth of Christ and one thousand years before the reign of King Solomon of Israel.

One of the tablets records: “Two sacks and 1 1/2 amphora — one half with grain, one half with oats and 3 2/3 measures of silver were loaned by Addada to Hashusman, Tarchula and Shubunasha. The grain and the oats shall be restituted after the coming harvest. The silver shall be paid by the next sowing. Guarantors for the loan are Habuala and his wife Burka.”

The means of payment were gold and silver at the rate of exchange 1 to 8, but good quality copper could sometimes command fifty times its corresponding weight in silver!

There was also a very precious metal, called “Amutum” in the records: iron!

Internal and external commerce were flourishing. The 1300-kilometer trail between Kanesh and Assur across arid steppes and rugged mountain passes was a route of intensive commercial exchanges with regularly scheduled caravans of mule trains transporting precious stones, copper and silver to Assur and importing alloys for the forging of bronze, silk, perfumes and other articles of luxury.

The traders pocketed splendid profits and gains of one hundred percent on a single transaction were not uncommon. The rate of interest on short term loans ranged between thirty and forty percent.

The regional princes whose lands the caravans traversed collected “duties” and would often exercise their privilege of first choice for purchasing merchandise.

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