Visit Rome following 8 XVIIIth century itineraries XVIIIth century Rome in the 10 Books of Giuseppe Vasi - Le Magnificenze di Roma Antica e Moderna The Grand View of Rome by G. Vasi The Environs of Rome: Frascati, Tivoli, Albano and other small towns near Rome A 1781 map of Rome by G. Vasi An 1852 map of Rome by P. Letarouilly Rome seen by a 1905 armchair traveller in the paintings by Alberto Pisa The 14 historical districts of Rome An abridged history of Rome How to spend a peaceful day in Rome Baroque sculptors and their works The coats of arms of the popes in the monuments of Rome Pages on a specific pope Pages complementing the itineraries and the views by Giuseppe Vasi Walks in the Roman countryside and in other towns of Latium following Ferdinand Gregorovius A Directory of links to the Churches of Rome A Directory of links to the Palaces and Villas of Rome A Directory of links to the Other Monuments of Rome A Directory of Baroque Architects with links to their works A Directory of links to Monuments of Ancient Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Medieval Rome A Directory of links to Monuments of Renaissance A Directory of links to Monuments of the Late Renaissance A list of the most noteworthy Roman Families Directories of fountains, obelisks, museums, etc. Books and guides used for developing this web site An illustrated Glossary of Art Terms Venice and the Levant Roman recollections in Florence A list of Italian towns shown in this web site Venetian Fortresses in Greece Vienna seen by an Italian XVIIIth century traveller A list of foreign towns shown in this web site
What's New!

Detailed Sitemap

All images © by Roberto Piperno, owner of the domain. Write to romapip@quipo.it. Text edited by Rosamie Moore.
Page added in December 2008.

Towns in the valleys of northern Turkey - Hattusa (page two) and Yazilikaya
(Ali Pacha Hammam in Tokat)

Hattusa was not only the capital of the Hittite Empire, but also its religious centre: archaeologists have found inscriptions with references to "the Thousand Gods of the Hatti-Land".

Site of temples
Sites of temples in the Upper City

Excavations have found evidence of several temples in the Upper City near the Sphinx Gate. The foundations of their walls is all that is left; these were made of big limestone blocks. An open courtyard was at the centre of each temple and around it there were several rooms, one of which served for cult purposes (they were identified by finding the base of a statue).

Main temple: reliefs with lions
Great Temple: reliefs with lions

The main temple was located in the Lower City: its entrance was guarded by two stone lions; also in this temple walls and ceilings (which were built with a timber frame filled with mud) have vanished.

Main temple: basin and green stone
Great Temple: (left) basin; (right) green stone

Celebrations took place in the temple courtyards. Cuneiform tablets describe such ceremonies in detail; they included some forms of ablutions.
A peculiar green stone is thought to have been a gift from Pharaoh Ramses II. In ca. 1274 the Hittites and the Egyptians fought at Kadesh, south of Antioch. They then signed a peace treaty and exchanged gifts.

Main temple: cell and warehouse
Great Temple: (left) cult chamber; (right) warehouse

Two cult chambers were situated at the north-eastern side of the court. The temple was dedicated to two deities (the Weather God and the Sun Goddess). Coloured stones were used for the foundation walls of these chambers. The temple was surrounded by a vast complex of buildings which included several storerooms where large pottery vessels sunk into the ground were found.


Yesilikaya - large room
Yazilikaya - large chamber

The rock sanctuary of Yazilikaya (rock with writing) lies at the foot of a high ridge east of Hattusa. It contains two cult chambers hidden in the rock and which were not covered by a ceiling. Access to them was restricted and they were not in full view as a series of buildings screened them off. The larger chamber was the first to be discovered: in 1834 French traveller Charles Texier visited the site and made the first drawings of the reliefs; the city was thought to be a pre-Roman town and only in 1906 was it identified as Hattusa.

Yazilikaya - large room
Yazilikaya - large chamber: (left) meeting of the gods; (right) King Tudhaliya IV

In the large chamber horizontal strips of rock were chiselled to depict processions leading to a central and larger relief which portrayed the meeting between the Weather God and the Sun Goddess. They both stand on animals which have been identified as panthers (the image used as background for this page shows a modern drawing of the Sun Goddess).
A second large relief stands on the opposite wall: it portrays King Tudhaliya IV, in the attitude of paying his respects to the gods. He is thought to be the commissioner of all the reliefs.

Yazilikaya - large room
Yazilikaya - large chamber: procession of (left) male and (centre) female deities; (right) symbols of power held by King Tudhaliya IV

The figures do not display any individual characteristics; they all (and in particular the female ones) have elaborate costumes, shoes and headdresses. It is thought that celebrations of Spring were held at Yazilikaya to propitiate a good harvest. The fact that Weather/Storm was a key god of the Hittite pantheon indicates the importance of harvests for the economy.
The reasons for the collapse of the Hittite Empire are not entirely clear; there are indications that Hattusa was sacked and set on fire, but probably at that time it was already almost abandoned; a series of poor harvests are thought to have caused the decline.

Yazilikaya - small room
Yazilikaya - small chamber: (left) entrance; (right) overall view

The small cult chamber was partly filled with earth and its relief sculptures are better preserved. The access to the chamber was guarded by two mythological soldiers with wings and the head of a lion: that on the left is clearly visible. The iconography of this room is split into separate panels which do not seem to be related.

Yazilikaya - small room
Yazilikaya - small chamber: (left) God Sharruma accompanying King Tudhaliya IV; (centre and right) sword made up of the head of god Nergal and of four lion heads

On one wall a large panel shows a deity accompanying/protecting a king: it is probably a funerary relief; a second large panel depicts a most unusual sword; the god portrayed on its handle is the God of the Underworld; this seems to confirm that the chamber was the tomb of King Tudhaliya IV.

Yazilikaya - small room
Yazilikaya - small chamber: deities of the Underworld

A relief portraying a procession of twelve running soldiers was placed at the beginning of the opposite wall: they have been identified as deities, but probably they wore the costumes of the royal guards.

The Hittite Empire was not replaced by another well structured nation: Hattusa was abandoned forever apart from small and temporary settlements during the Phrygian, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods.

You may wish to see a large Hittite relief at Ivriz.

Return to page one.

Introductory page
Turhal and Zile

Clickable Map of Turkey showing all the locations covered in this website (opens in another window).

SEE THESE OTHER EXHIBITIONS (for a full list see my detailed index).

Walls of Nova RomaVenetian Fortresses in GreeceFountains