Inscribed Rock

Inscribed Rock cappadocia  Inscribed Rock informations
Inscribed Rock 
After the beginning of the Hittite Empire period, monumental bas-reliefs in stone, frequently inscribed with hieroglyphs, began to appear either on the lowermost blocks of palaces and temples, or upon dominant cliffs, especially along the one-time Hittite frontiers. Depicting kings and armed warriors, these reliefs were probably serving as reminders of Hittite might in conquered, or confederate lands.

Sometimes a king is depicted wearing the robes of a priest performing an act of worship. His carved staff, the Kalmush (lituus), which he invariably carries, is the symbol of royalty.

Hittite deities are pictured either standing or sitting, and occasionally they are represented by sacred animals.

The most outstanding Hittite monument is Yazilikaya, where every deity of the Hittite pantheon is represented. The gods and goddesses are distinguished by the weapons or implements they carry, by the sacred animals upon which they stand, or by the symbol (cartouche) above their extended hands. The dress of the gods consists of a short, belted tunic, sometimes a long cloak, upturned shoes and a conical hat decorated with horns and oval ideograms. The number of horns and ovals signifies the status of the deity. The goddesses wear long skirts, a loose upper garment, covering the arms and are never veiled. All the deities wear armlets. Except for the obviously religious clothes, the dress of a goddess very likely follows the fashion of the period. In the congregation of divinities at Yazilikaya, the male and female deities form two separate groups although, for some unknown reason, a few gods are placed in the opposite group.

During the late Empire period, deities, borrowed from the Hurrian pantheon, began to show themselves in the state religion, probably through the influence of Queen Puduhepa, the consort of Hattusilis III, who was the daughter of a Hurrian high priest from Kummanni, in the lands of Kizzuwatna. The carving of the Yazilikaya reliefs must have taken place when the incursion of Hurrian religious elements was an accomplished fact.

The Yazilikaya reliefs are too extensive to be reproduced here in any perceptible manner, but quality reproductions are available locally, so I opted for including the following description for the visitor’s convenience, who—with the help of the text—may easily identify the congregation of divinities.

The leading goddess, the Sun Goddess of Arinna, is inscribed with her Hurrian name, Hepatu, clearly stated by the monogram above her extended hand. The god behind her is her son, Sharruma. Opposite to Hepatu, the leading deity is monogrammed as the Weather God of Heaven, the Hittite version of the Hurrian Sun God, Teshub. Being the highest ranking divinity, his headgear is adorned with the largest number of horns and ovals. He is standing on two deified mountains, Namni and Hazzi, this latter being Mount Casius in Syria, then a province of the Hurrian Kingdom.

The pair of deified animals with conical hats next to the god and goddess are still subject to controversy. According to the interpretation of Professor Ekrem Akurgal of Turkey, the sacred bulls, Serri and Hurri, represent the day and the night in Hurrian. Professor O. R. Guerney, the British Assyriologist, is of another opinion, when he writes:

“Next to one of the bulls we see a much wathered inscription which reveals that these bulls are not, as was formerly thought, Serris and Hurris, who elsewhere appear harnessed to a chariot of the Weather God, but that both represent the god Sharruma, the son of Teshub.”

Hepatu and Sharruma are pictured standing astride on a pair of leopards. The two goddesses above the double-headed eagle are unknown.

The important deities behind the Weather God of Heaven are as follows:

  1. Standing on two peaks behind the principal god is the Weather God of Hattusas.
  2. Likewise standing upon twin peaks, holding an ear of corn is the God of Grain.
  1. Ea, the Mesopotamian God of Water (Prof. Akurgal). Ea, the Mesopotamian god of the Nether Sea (Prof. Guerney).
  2. Goddess Shaushga, the Hurrian Ishtar.
  3. Unknown.
  4. Unknown.
  5. The Moon God.
  6. Unidentified king; deified according to the ideograph of the Sun God which he is carrying.
  7. Unknown.
  8. The Protective Genius.
  9. Unknown.
  10. Underworld  deity whose  Hurrian  name  is  probably Hesui.
  11. 14.Standing upon the symbol of Earth, a pair of bullheaded deities, supporting the symbol of Heaven.

There have been many theories about the significance of this assembly of divinities. In Charles Texier’s first report (1849) the reliefs were interpreted as a meeting between Amazons and Paphlagonians. Subsequent scholars saw Medes and Lydians in the two groups, or even Scythians and Cimmerians. It was Professor Garstang who, in the late twenties, realized the Hittite nature of the reliefs, although he interpreted them as a memorial to the sacred presence of the gods at the marriage of Hattusilis III and Princess Puduhepa, the parents of Tudhalyas IV, who had either initiated or completed the Yazilikaya sanctuary.

Judged only by the depicted scene, Garstang’s argument seems as strong as one can be given. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the thousands of deciphered Hittite records which would, even remotely, hint at such a divine congregation at any king’s marriage.

Very likely the sanctuary is nothing more then a place of worship where the gods of Hatti were believed to be present, much in the sense we do believe in the presence of the Lord in our churches.

During the reign of Tudhalyas, a large temple-complex stood in front of the carved galleries which were, then, accessible only through this sacred precinct, and only after the obligatory performance of certain religious rites, including the offer of libations.

The temple of the Weather God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of Arinna, dating to the 13th century B.C. (Drawing based on the plan of P. Neve and adopted from “Ancient civilizations and ruins in Turkey” by Prof. Ekrem Akurgal.) The complex measures 160 X 135 meters. The main entrance is on the southeastern side. The doorway of large boulders and the pair of guard rooms flanking it are partially preserved. The temple was entered through the monumental gate (facing chamber 65) additional entrances were (40) and the corridor between 64 and 70, and 17. They were probably reserved for temple personalities. The narrow chambers served as store rooms for provisions and treasures where many clay yars have been found, arranged in double rows, some bearing incised signs indicating their capacity. In rooms 10,11 and 12, formerly with upper floors, thousands of clay tablets were discovered in 1907.

A third oppen-air chamber, connected with the Small Gallery and marked C (not shown on our plan), was excavated last year. The function of this room, which has no reliefs, is not known yet.

(Adopted from “Ancient civilizations and ruins in Turkey” by Prof. Ekrem Akurgal).

The relief of king Tudhalias IV in the great gallery. He is represented armed, wearing a skull cap and holding the kalmush, the curved staff of sovereignty.

The hieroglyph interprets into “Great King” (the two columns with capitals.) The name is shown by the center figure and the sign below it which corresponds phonetically with the syllable “Tu.” (Tudhalias) Standing on two mountain peaks he is depicted as a deified king. The relief in which God Sharruma holds King Tudhalias in his embrace — a gesture of honor and protection.

Sharruma’s peaked headwear is adorned with god ideograms, the horns and ovals, absent in the rear, indicating a lesser rank than that of the Weather God of Heaven. The hieroglyph of Sharruma indicates his name. (The god ideogram and headless body and the symbol of “ma.”)

The relief represents a king with the hieroglyphic symbols of the Sun God of Heaven. Royalty is indicated by the winged sun disc and the kalmush, the long, curved staff. The round skull cap also belongs to a monarch. The designation, Sun God of Heaven, in the absence of an individual name, suggests an image of a deified ruler in the general sense representing the actual monarch in power in each period.

The sanctuary of Yazilikaya. Representation of the sixty-three deites of the Hittite Empire. (After Charles Texier; adopted from “Ancient civilizations and ruins in Turkey” by Prof. Ekrem Akurgal, Ankara.)

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