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Hattusas

Center of the great Hittite Kingdom for almost 500 years, the ancient site of Hattusas constitutes one of the most important archaeological sites in Turkey. Having imported cuneiform script from Mesopotamia and the Assyrian trade colonies, the Hittites recorded the most minute details of their civilization. Exhaustive archives of public, political, and religious life have been found in several repositories throughout Hattusas, and thanks to the work of a Czech linguist who succeeded in deciphering the Hittite alphabet in 1915, a wealth of information on one of the most important ancient civilizations of Anatolia is now available.

Hattusas was not only the Hittite political capital but the religious one as well. The site is located at the summit of an imposing and rocky terrain high above the fertile valley of the Turkish village of Bogazkoy. About 1km ( 3/4 mile) to the northeast (the access road takes a slightly more circuitous route), spectacular for the exceptional reliefs carved into the rock.

Hattusas: City of a Thousand Gods

In Hittite documents, Hattusas is referred to as the "City of a Thousand Gods" indicating the importance of religion in daily life. In their roles as high priest and priestess, the king and queen would often consult the appropriate god before making decisions on even the most minor of questions. Excavations, begun in 1932 on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute (archaeological surveys began much earlier), have already revealed the remains of over 75 temples.

As equal-opportunity worshippers, the Hittites appropriated foreign deities of the civilizations they had conquered, adding them to the Hittite anthology of gods and offering prayers and gifts to keep them appeased. Each god or goddess became the focus of a cult, so that much of the calendar was taken up with duties associated with ritual ceremonies.