Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hattuşa: The Ancient Hittite Capital

On our drive home to Ankara, we stopped at Hattuşa, a settlement occupied by the Hittites around 2500 BC. This was their capital city, and consisted of an artificial bank with tunnel entrances, a castle perched upon a hill, and all other buildings encloses within the city walls. The settlement was mixed amongst rocky outcrops in rolling hills; it must have been camouflaged in its day. You can imagine that at 4000 years old, there wasn't MUCH of the building structures left to see. Only the foundations, which created eerie patterns in the earth. An eerie day in general: about to storm, and I was foggy-headed from a weekend of driving. I would like to return to Hattuşa in the summer when I have more time to hike around the ruins and soak in the vibes. In the meantime, we toured the place in a 1/2 hour, jumping in and out of the car, running around trying to read the signs and see everything. (We had to have the rental car back by 5:30pm).

Some cool facts about Hittites:
1. They set up city-states (a term I still remember for 6th grade Social Studies).
2. They wrote on cuneiform tablets (also learned in 6th grade S.S.).
3. The arrival of the Sea Peoples resulted in the destruction of Hattuşa around 1200 BC (same time as the Fall of Troy). (My traveling companions and I loved the name, "Sea Peoples." All the other inhabitants of Anatolia had cool names like Hittites and Ottomans. But this particular group were just "the Sea Peoples." Like Ursula from the Little Mermaid.)
4. Hittite culture that survived and became known as the Neo-Hittites were a group of people who were mentioned in the Bible, in conjunction with Abraham and David.
5.They had a highly advanced and complex social system. Kings were absolute rulers, but then there was an assembly that had a lot of influence. There was a major division in society between the free and the slaves. Their legal code involved 200 laws. The best: rape and bestiality were punished by death. The worst: murder was only punished by a fine if the victim was a slave.
6. The two most important gods in their religion were the sun goddess Hebut and the weather god Teshuba.

Teshuba was definitely present during our visit.

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