Chapter 13. The Capital

К оглавлению
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 
17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 

On its site I sowed weeds. May the Storm God strike down

anyone who becomes king after me and resettles Hattusa!

In these words King Anitta condemned to oblivion the city he had

just destroyed—Hattusa, the chief obstacle to his expanding empire

in central Anatolia during the pre-Hittite Assyrian Colony period. It

now lay in ruins, never again to be resettled! But its destroyer’s curse

had short-lived effect. Some 150 years later, a new city arose on the

abandoned, weed-covered site. Its founder, very likely, was King

Hattusili I.Whether or not he knew of the curse, it was clearly incompatible

with his developing vision of a brave new world, a powerful

new kingdom, of which this derelict place would be the focal point.

Its natural advantages were obvious.The thickly forested surrounds

provided ample quantities of timber for the predominantly wooden

buildings to be constructed in the city. There was good soil for agricultural

purposes in the nearby valleys. Seven springs guaranteed an

abundant all-year-round water supply. The site was well located in

relation to communication routes, from both north to south and east

to west. And the natural rocky outcrop jutting above the site provided

a ready-made, easily defensible location for a royal citadel.

Hattusa’s Main Phases

There were five main phases to the city’s existence.The first marked

the transition between Early and Middle Bronze Age around the

beginning of the second millennium. The second belonged to the

Assyrian Colony period, and ended with its destruction by Anitta.

The fifth belonged to the post-Hittite Phrygian period, during which

the city was rebuilt, on a more modest scale, following its destruction

at the end of the Bronze Age. Our concern will be with the third and

fourth phases,when Hattusa was the seat of the royal Hittite dynasty,

capital of the Land of Hatti.

Phase three we might conveniently call the city of Hattusili I. It

was a relatively small city, for a Near Eastern royal capital, with

maximum dimensions of approximately 1.25 by 0.5 kilometres. It

was dominated by the acropolis (now known as Büyükkale), where

Hattusili built the first royal palace and where, no doubt, the

intrigues and family feuds referred to in his Testament had their

origins. Rising steeply, almost unassailably, from the surrounding

terrain on its north and east sides, it was much more easily accessed,

and required much more built-up fortification, on its gentler sloping

south and west sides.The site had to be levelled with a series of artificial

terraces. A viaduct connected the acropolis with the rest of the

small city. Its vulnerability to outside attack, an ever-present threat

in the unstable times which followed the assassination of Mursili I,

led to the construction of a solid wall some 8 metres thick, probably

built in the reign of the fifteenth-century king Hantili II and incorporating

many of the features of later Hittite fortification architecture,

including postern gates and corbelled tunnels through the


Around 1400 the Hittite homeland succumbed to enemy incursions

across its frontiers from all directions. During these so-called

concentric invasions, Hattusa was sacked and burned by forces from

the Kaska region in the north.The kingdom of which it had been the

royal seat was now on the verge of extinction. But all was not lost.

Due mainly to the military genius of the future king Suppiluliuma I,

the enemy forces were systematically driven from the homeland,

and the kingdom now embarked upon the most illustrious period in

its history. Correspondingly, Hattusa entered into its fourth phase,

which was to last until its dramatic fall just over two centuries later.

The Kaskan sack of the city left little evidence of its former existence.

And its extensive rebuilding in this its final Hittite phase swept

away almost all remaining traces of what had gone before.

The restoration and redevelopment of Hattusa must have begun

under Suppiluliuma, or under his father Tudhaliya III if the latter

lived long enough to reoccupy his royal seat after the court’s temporary

relocation in Samuha.1 But whether Suppiluliuma entertained

any of the grand designs for the capital which were to come to

fruition one and a half centuries later remains unknown. His preoccupation

with military matters left him little time for exercising the

role of master planner and builder of a grand new city, even had he

the inclination to do so. Subsequent events have left us with little

knowledge of what sort of city it was that he handed to his successor

on his death. If we accept at face value the claims by his son Mursili

about the deplorable condition of the land at this time and the decimation

of its population by the ravages of plague, the ‘new’ city may

already have been in a state of some disrepair. If so, the situation

probably did not improve much under Mursili, at least during the

first part of his reign when his kingdom was still suffering from the

effects of the plague. In any case Mursili like his father seems to have

spent virtually every year of his reign on military campaigns; and

when he was not campaigning, other urgent demands of royal office

probably left him little time to devote to refurbishing his capital.

Even had he embarked on a redevelopment programme, this would

almost certainly have been brought to a standstill by his son and

successor Muwatalli, who transferred the royal seat south to

Tarhuntassa. Hattusa was not entirely abandoned, but placed

under the immediate jurisdiction of the king’s Chief Scribe

Mittannamuwa. However, its decline in status and the redirection of

resources to the new capital must inevitably have led to its further

material decline.

Within a few years Hattusa was restored as the capital under Urhi-

Teshub, Muwatalli’s son and successor. But Urhi-Teshub’s relatively

short, unstable occupancy of the throne probably meant that during

his reign too the city continued to languish. Indeed it is not unlikely

that it suffered further substantial damage in the course of the civil

war between Urhi-Teshub and his uncle Hattusili. A statement later

made by Hattusili after he had seized his nephew’s throne suggests

that fighting between the opposing sides raged through Hattusa as

well as outside it, resulting very likely in the destruction of a number

of its public buildings including the royal treasury.

But finally, in what were almost the kingdom’s last years, the city

achieved an unprecedented magnitude and magnificence—like a

firework that flares most brilliantly in the moments before it flickers

out. Its concept, design, and execution are all attributed to King

Tudhaliya IV, third-last king of the Bronze Age dynasty. And certainly

it was in his reign that the new city took shape. But the concept

at least, if not also the design, may have been inspired by his father

and predecessor Hattusili III. So too the concept of the redeveloped

sanctuary at Yazılıkaya was one which father and son shared. Eager

as Hattusili was to establish the credentials of his own family line as

provider of the legitimate occupants of the Hittite throne, he might

well have seen a radical redevelopment of the capital as an important

means of doing this. Henceforth this new city would forever be

closely identified with his branch of the royal dynasty—the branch

that had vigorously reasserted Hattusa’s pre-eminent position in the

empire after its degradation and dramatic loss of status under

Hattusili’s brother Muwatalli.2 The usurper could thus assume the

role of the traditionalist, the restorer of the old order of things.That

would surely have won him support in many quarters, both human

and divine. Moreover, the size and splendour of the redeveloped

capital would leave no doubt in the minds of both foreign and vassal

rulers that its chief occupant was indeed worthy of the title ‘Great


Layout of the City

The city had two distinct parts. The original or ‘Lower City’ (which

we have called the city of Hattusili) occupied the northern district of

the capital and was dominated in its south-east sector by the royal

acropolis. To the north-west of it lay the city’s largest and most

important temple, the Temple of the Storm God.The palace complex

on the acropolis was substantially redeveloped by Tudhaliya in the

thirteenth century. But it was the massive expansion of the city to the

south, more than doubling its size to a total of approximately 165

hectares, that was the most spectacular achievement of Tudhaliya’s

reign. It is in this region, overlooking the original city and commonly

referred to as the ‘Upper City’ (which we have called the city of

Tudhaliya), that the German excavations have been concentrated

since 1978.

Up until these excavations, the extent of the city in its final Hittite

phase was already known from the wall which totally enclosed it.

Some 8 to 10 metres in height, it incorporated towers at 20-metre

intervals and a number of tower-flanked access gates, the most

notable of which are embellished with monumental relief sculptures—

the so-called Lion, King’s, and Sphinx Gates. Two gates in

the city’s north-west sector gave access to the Lower City. Four

temples had also been unearthed in the Upper City (designated by

the numbers 2 to 5), providing a first indication of the overall

purpose and character of the new region.The excavations conducted

by Professor Neve from 1978 onwards brought to light twenty-six

more temples in the Upper City, covering an area of over one square

kilometre, which confirmed its sacred and ceremonial character. It

was clearly built according to plan, in contrast to the ‘organic growth’

of the old city. But though Lower and Upper Cities are quite different

in character and concept, and developed in periods some centuries

apart, there is none the less a strong sense of coherence, a

spiritual as well as a physical relationship, between them.The Upper

City must have been deliberately planned in this way. Neve sees

the layout of the whole city as symbolizing the cosmic world-form

of the Hittites—with the palace as the earthly world, the temple city

as the godly world, and the cult district lying in between as providing

the passage from the transient to the eternal.3

From the three main arched, tower-flanked gates symmetrically

located in the city wall’s southern bend, traffic-ways led north

through the environs of the temple district, converging finally on a

rocky outcrop, built up as a fortress and guarded by two colossal

sphinxes, now called Nis¸antepe.4 Along with the nearby Südburg

complex (see below), it formed a link between temple quarter and

palace district. Professor Neve believes that the three gateways were

integrated into a sacred, ceremonial way used on festival occasions:

Fig. 11. Temples in Upper City

the festival procession started from Temple 5, passed outside the city

via the ‘King’s’ Gate,and then progressed around the foot of the wall

up a staircase to the bastion of the Sphinx Gate; from there it proceeded

down a second staircase to the west side of the bastion, and

thence downhill to the Lion Gate, where it again entered the city.5

The City’s Nature and Image

By at least the last century of its existence Hattusa had developed

the character of a purely sacred, ceremonial city. Thus Neve and

others have concluded, from the great number of temples and other

sacred buildings to which the Upper City was almost entirely

devoted. But we should reflect a little on this conclusion. Many

ancient cities might be categorized in this way if we were to judge

them primarily on what we know of their architecture and iconography.

Constantine the Great’s city on the Bosporus provides a classic

example. Even Periclean Athens could be so categorized on the

basis of its temple-dominated archaeological remains and its sacred

ceremonial route, the Panathenaic Way. The Hittite world itself

may well have provided a number of examples. Indeed the homeland’s

most important regional cities—like Arinna, Nerik, and

Zippalanda—were also predominantly ‘holy cities’, whose architectural

features and overall layout may not have differed markedly

from those of the capital, if on a smaller scale.6

Of course city-names need to be firmly tied to actual locations and

material remains before we can be entirely sure of this. And the

establishment of demonstrably correct links between names and

locations may still be some time off. Even so, a number of scholars

have already proposed identifying either Arinna or Zippalanda with

the site now known as Alaca Höyük (approximately 30 kilometres

from Hattusa), whose well-known relief scenes, on the blocks flanking

the Sphinx Gate, almost certainly feature a religious festival in

progress (see Chapter 11); their prominence at the very entrance to

the city, along with the large palace–temple complex within,suggests

that here too was a ‘sacred, ceremonial city’. The representation of

such festival rites on a gate which formed part of the fortification

walls of a citadel would be surprising, comments Professor Mellink,

if the whole complex did not bear such a sacral character.7

A note of caution needs to be sounded. In labelling certain cities

in this way we should be aware that in a world in which religious

activity permeates virtually all aspects of life, sacred and secular

cannot easily be disarticulated.To identify one city as sacred and by

implication others as secular is to make a distinction which would

probably have had as little meaning for a Hittite as it would have had

for an Egyptian or a Babylonian or indeed for a member of many

another civilization, ancient or modern. In the Hittite world all

towns of any size were probably dominated by temple establishments,

with life revolving very largely around religious activities of

one kind or another in honour of one god or another. There were

after all a great many deities to be attended to, not all of whom could

be accommodated in the capital and other major centres.

Hattusa’s extensive redevelopment in the last decades of its existence

was calculated to impress, to leave no doubt that the Hittite

empire’s first city was also one of the pre-eminent metropolises of

the entire Late Bronze Age world.This was first made evident to the

visitor as his approach to the city brought him in sight of the massive

fortifications, extending over a total distance of some 5 kilometres.

The main casemate wall reared up on an earth rampart to a height of

10 metres, punctuated by towers at 20-metre intervals along its

entire length. Before it was a second curtain wall, also with towers

built in the intervals between those of the main wall. Skilfully

adapted to the rugged terrain, the fortifications not merely encompassed

the new Upper City but were extended to the north-east,

spanning a deep gorge and enclosing within the city limits a mountain

outcrop now called Büyükkaya. Crossing the gorge twice on

north and south, this north-east extension (though not entirely

finished at the time of the city’s final destruction) must rank as one of

the most impressive engineering achievements of the Late Bronze

Age world. But one must ask whether it was intended primarily to

impress, rather than to serve any genuine practical purpose. Dr

Singer comments similarly about the new city’s fortifications in

general;they were more suited to impressing the viewer and perhaps

the gods than to withstanding a determined military attack.8

Given a desire to advertise to the world Hattusa’s resplendent

new face, given the festival-oriented character of Hittite society,we

might well expect that the redevelopment of the capital was marked

by great celebrations in which subjects and foreigners and gods alike

participated, perhaps along the lines of a Great Durbar like that

which the pharaoh Akhenaten celebrated in his new city Akhetaten.

In any case, official visits to the city by vassal rulers and foreign

dignitaries were probably marked by much pomp and ceremony,

beginning with their entry to the city.These were no doubt also occasions

for the display of tribute arriving from the vassal states—

vessels of gold and silver, garments of fine linen, red- and blue-dyed

woollen textiles of the highest quality,9 as well as the gifts brought to

the Great King by the emissaries of his brother-rulers.

The Main Gateways

Almost certainly official visitors to the capital entered it via its

south-west entrance, the ‘Lion Gate’, so called because of the pair of

Fig. 12. Lion Gate

lions which appear on the external gate jambs and face directly outwards

from the city. Their protomes carved in the round, they are

depicted as if in the process of emerging from the solid rock, ready to

challenge the city’s enemies and roaring their defiance at any who

dare approach with hostile intent.That at least is one way of looking

at them. They have become a kind of general symbol of the Hittite

world, of Hittite royalty in particular, the physical counterpart of the

text-images of a mighty leonine ruler who pounces ruthlessly upon

his prey. Of course the lion symbol has been adopted by many royal

and aristocratic dynasties throughout the ages.The Hittites certainly

had no monopoly on it. In European tradition it goes back at least to

the Lion Gate at Mycenae (a close contemporary of Hattusa’s Lion

Gate),whose relief of confronting lions above the main entrance has

been called, perhaps not too fancifully, the royal coat-of-arms of the

House of Agamemnon,the first coat-of-arms in the Western world.

Though now rather weather-beaten, the Hattusa lions still show

clear signs of the care and precision with which they were carved, as

particularly illustrated in the minute attention to the treatment of

the patterned hair of the mane. But this very stylization is significant.

These creatures are hardly of a kind likely to inspire terror in an

approaching enemy. They are not, nor ever were even in their

pristine state, particularly ferocious of aspect. In fact Hittite lions

seldom are,10 in contrast to the savage brutes depicted in Assyrian

relief sculpture or even in miniature on the famous dagger blade

from Mycenae. They are generally rather benign-looking creatures.

If the Hattusa lions were supposed to reflect the sort of spirit and

ferocity which an enemy mounting an attack on the city might

encounter from its defenders, the enemy might feel rather more

reassured than unnerved. Their image is one of regal dignity rather

than ferocity.They are essentially emblematic in function, serving to

remind the visitor that he is about to enter the city which contains the

royal seat of the Hittite world.

The south-east gate is commonly known as the King’s Gate, so

named because of the sculpted figure which appears on the left of the

inside of the gateway. Over 2 metres high, this monumental figure

represents one of the Hittites’ finest artistic achievements—so fine

in fact that some critics have suggested, quite unjustifiably, that it

must have been the work of a foreign artist.11 In contrast to the flat,

low relief of most surviving Hittite sculpture, the figure is modelled

in high relief, with much attention to anatomical detail, including

chest hair and nail cuticles, and with a plasticity which realistically

depicts the body’s planes and muscular development. The figure is

male. His dress and equipment are those of a warrior. He wears a

helmet, with long plume and cheek flaps, and a kilt, and carries a

battle axe in his right hand and a curved sword at his side. His hair is

long in the Hittite manner. Three-quarters of his face is visible, as

though he is in the process of turning his gaze upon those who are

leaving the city.The expression on his face is one of benevolence. His

left arm is raised and his fist clenched, as a salute, or gesture of

farewell.Though the sculpture has inspired the name ‘King’s Gate’,

it almost certainly represents a god. It may well be Tudhaliya’s

Fig. 13. ‘King’s’ Gate

tutelary deity Sharruma, his presence at the city’s exit serving to

reassure the king that his guidance and protection will always be

with him in the days of military campaigning that lie ahead.

The Sphinx Gate lies between the ‘King’s’ and Lion Gates, at the

city’s highest point (now called Yerkapı). Providing only indirect

access to the outer world, as Bittel notes, well protected against

assault by the defences of Yerkapı, it was not in regular use by traffic

passing into and from the city.Two pairs of sphinxes were carved on

the gateway’s jambs,one pair facing outwards from the city, the other

inwards. Unlike their Egyptian prototypes, Hittite sphinxes are

invariably female.They appear relatively frequently in the iconography,

here and at Alaca Höyük (where the sphinxes, over 2 metres in

height, are carved on the city’s external gateposts) on a monumental

scale, with a number of variations in detail. At Hattusa’s Sphinx

Gate, the inward-facing figures are the more elaborately carved of

the two pairs. Again we have the sense of figures in the very process

of emerging from the rock, their foreparts almost fully disengaged,

the remainder of their bodies, down to their erect tails, presented in

high profile. In a pattern of whirls and curves, their headdresses are

carved in the form of spiralling branches, their wings unfurled in

magnificent fanlike formations. (In this respect they contrast with

the Alaca sphinxes, who wear an Egyptian-type cowl which ends in

curls over the breast.12) From their lofty station, they gaze tranquilly

over the activities in the city below. They represent benevolent

forces under whose protection the city’s inhabitants lie—at least for

the time being.

The Temples

Entry to the city via the Sphinx Gate brought one into the central

temple quarter. Here some twenty-five temples were clustered, the

larger varying in size from 1,200 to 1,500 square metres, the smaller

from 400 to 600 square metres. Most were built within the kingdom’s

last decades, all with similar design and layout: they were square or

rectangular in plan, with an entry portal leading to an inner court,

with pillared portico, which gave access through a vestibule to the

adyton or inner sanctuary where the image of the god was housed.

This holy of holies was always off-centre, deliberately so designed to

ensure there was no direct view into it from the entry portal.A basement

room or cellar was often constructed beneath the sanctuary

floor.13 The temples’ cult statues have long since disappeared, along

with much else of their sculptural ornamentation. However, reliefs

featuring lions and sphinxes may once have embellished their walls

and pillar-bases and perhaps their entrance portals as guardian

figures, to judge from the remains of such creatures which formed

part of the architectonic decoration of Temples 2 and 3.14 A dark

green granite-like gabbro was used in the sculptural decoration,

which must have served to highlight the figures against their limestone

background.The same material was also used in the Temple of

the Storm God in the Lower City (here too was found in the temple’s

south magazine, a large cube-like shape of green nephrite of

unknown function). It may well be that this material had a significance

which went beyond the purely ornamental. In addition to the

cult images, other free-standing figures may have served to decorate

the temples, along with painted, or painted stucco, friezes. But

nothing remains of such embellishments or of the items used in the

temple’s rituals and ceremonies beyond a small collection of figurines,

libation vessels, and other votive objects.

Excavations have proved more productive of another group of

artefacts. The temple cellars seemed to have served as archive

rooms, for all the temples have produced a range of inscribed

material—stamp seals, clay bullae, seal impressions, and clay tablets

recording donations, ritual procedures, and oracle enquiries—generally

found on the cellar floors. The largest collections, which have

come from Temples 15 and 16, included amongst their contents

tablets from a mythological text-series in Hurrian–Hittite bilingual

form,15 and some Akkadian fragments of the Gilgamesh epic. This

may provide evidence of the temples’ role as centres for scribal

training. The temple personnel were no doubt housed in the residential

quarters which lay close by the temples. Here too were workshops.

As we have already noted, Hittite temples had a range of

functions—administrative, economic, and industrial—beyond the

purely cultic.

On either side of the central temple quarter was a large temple

precinct, Temples 5 and 30 so called. In keeping, it seems, with the

Upper City’s symmetrical layout, each was close by and perhaps

ceremonially and functionally related to one of the city’s main access

gates. The Temple 5 precinct was located near the ‘King’s’ Gate,

the Temple 30 precinct near the Lion Gate. Professor Neve notes

that with an area of almost 3,000 square metres, Temple 5 is by far

the biggest sacred building in the Upper City, and is also remarkable

for its special layout, with temple complemented by a ‘palaceannexe’

and three small ‘chapels’. In one of these (‘House A’) a relief

some 90 centimetres in height was discovered, depicting a warrior

in short skirt armed with lance and wearing a horned cap. Above

its left fist the name Tudhaliya appears in hieroglyphs. Neve

suggests that since the horned cap represents a deified ruler and

therefore a dead one, the Tudhaliya so identified is an ancestral

namesake of Tudhaliya IV (perhaps his great-great-grandfather

Tudhaliya III), and that the so-called chapel complex was dedicated

to the king’s lineal ancestors—Tudhaliya III, his grandfather

Mursili II, and his father Hattusili III.16 Though clear evidence for

Neve’s conclusions is lacking, one might reasonably if tentatively

conclude with him that Temple 5 was erected as a private precinct

of the king, with special chapels dedicated to the worship of his


That might in turn suggest a close relationship between precinct

and ‘King’s’ Gate, noting again that the sculptured figure on the gate

looks inward, towards the precinct. Its position gives the gate predominantly

the character of an exit gate. It is the last image one sees

as one leaves the city. For King Tudhaliya this would most appropriately

be his tutelary deity Sharruma. Or in line with Neve’s suggestion

that part of the precinct was devoted to ancestor worship, it

could represent one of the king’s ancestors, now deified, who might

also have served to inspire him as he departed his city. Here in this

precinct the king perhaps spent his final hours, in communion with

his god and his ancestors, before setting forth on whatever external

enterprise lay ahead of him.

All in all, it seems likely that the ‘King’s’ Gate was used primarily

if not exclusively for special occasions—ceremonial processions,

royal departures on religious pilgrimages, military campaigns, and

the like. It is most improbable that it was used by regular everyday

traffic, particularly if the Temple 5 precinct was closely associated

with it and reserved for the personal use of the king. The obsession

with isolating the king from all sources of contamination would

surely have required a greater degree of separation from the noise,

the dust, the pollution of human bodies than would have been possible

if the ‘King’s’ Gate were in regular use by the city’s inhabitants

and visitors.

That leaves only the Lion Gate as the city’s main public entrance.

In fact it is the only gate in the city which has all the characteristics of

a public entrance-way. It alone both provides direct access to the city

and is embellished by monumental sculptures which face outwards,

towards the approaching traveller. Further, the lion figures are the

only gate sculptures which convey unequivocally to all comers that

they are entering a royal capital. Given that Tudhaliya devoted so

much time and so many resources to making Hattusa into a show

city, he would certainly have ensured that visitors to the city, at least

official ones, entered it by the one gateway which really did provide

a fittingly impressive introduction to it.

That raises the question of the Temple 30 precinct, which serves as

a kind of counterpart to Temple 5, and consists of a separate sanctuary

situated the same distance from the Lion Gate as Temple 5 is

from the ‘King’s’ Gate. Though possessing some of the features of

Temple 5, it was built on a more modest scale. Unfortunately its

abandonment after its destruction following the first phase of the

building of the Upper City and the replacement of it by simple residences

and workshops leave us with virtually no indication of what

its purpose and function were. Perhaps, corresponding to what we

have suggested for Temple 5, it served as some kind of private sanctuary

for the king on his return to the city.

Official Visitors to the Capital

After entering the capital via the Lion Gate, visitors to His Majesty

travelled first through the Upper City, either skirting or passing

through the central temple district as they made their way towards

the acropolis. To the south-west of the acropolis lay the rocky

outcrop we have referred to above called Nis¸antepe. A building

erected on the site during the reign of the last known king,Suppiluliuma

II, may have been intended as his hekur, his final burial place.

Here an eleven-line hieroglyphic inscription was discovered, the

longest known Hittite inscription in the hieroglyphic script,unfortunately

weathered to the point where it is illegible except for its

opening words.Nis¸antepe has, however, produced another rich find.

Excavations conducted on the site in 1990 brought to light a ‘seal

archive’ consisting of almost 3,300 items—3,268 clay bullae and 28

land-grant documents, ranging in date from the reign of Suppiluliuma

I to the end of the kingdom. Increasing many times over the

number of such impressions previously known to us, they serve as a

valuable source of information in a number of respects on the

history of the kingdom in its last two centuries.17

Two viaducts, 85 metres long, linked Nis¸antepe and the Upper

City with the acropolis.They provided access to the palace for functionaries

and officials in the king’s service who lived outside the

palace precincts, for vassal rulers come to pay their yearly homage to

the king, and for envoys on diplomatic missions from foreign Great

Kings. After being admitted by the sentries on duty at the citadel’s

south-west gate, the dignitary and his retinue were escorted by royal

attendants through a series of colonnaded courts, each with its own

entrance portal, to the upper floor of a large two-storey building.

(There was another main gate in the south-east corner. A third gate

in the southern part of the western wall was suitable for pedestrian

traffic between the citadel and the Lower City but was probably not

used on official ceremonial occasions.18) The ground floor contained

a complex of storage chambers. On the upper floor was a pillared

hall some fifty metres in length, forty in width.19

Here the Great King held audience.When all were assembled, he

was announced by the court herald and made a grand separate

entrance from the palace’s innermost royal apartments. In the Great

Hall, vassal rulers appeared before His Majesty, to renew their vows

of loyalty and pay their annual tribute. No doubt they also reported

to him on the state of their kingdom and the region in which it lay,

the king’s scribes assiduously recording the details. Here kuirwanakings,

rulers of ‘protectorate’ states, reported and paid their

respects.20 The Great King’s own high-ranking dignitaries did them

the honour of rising in their presence as a mark of respect, thus

maintaining what was largely a diplomatic fiction—that they really

were of higher status than mere vassals. Here too envoys from His

Majesty’s Brother-Kings presented their credentials. In audience

with His Majesty they broadly outlined proposals which their king

had commissioned them to bring to Hattusa, or they gave responses

from their king to proposals which Hittite envoys had taken to their

own land. Detailed negotiations would follow at a later stage

between them and His Majesty’s own representatives. Here, the

Egyptian envoy Hani finally persuaded King Suppiluliuma to send

one of his sons to Egypt, to become the husband of Tutankhamun’s

widow and ascend the pharaonic throne. It may have been here too

that Suppiluliuma received news of the death of his son Zannanza

while en route to Egypt for this purpose. Here Urhi-Teshub rebuffed

the overtures from the envoys of the Assyrian king, thus exacerbating

the tensions already mounting between Hatti and Assyria in the

Euphrates region. Here no doubt King Hattusili III received envoys

from the pharaoh Ramesses, sent for preliminary negotiations on

the treaty which would formally mark the cessation of all hostility

between the two kingdoms.

This Great Hall, which according to Naumann’s reconstruction

was lit by windows on three sides with entry in the centre of its eastoriented

fourth side, appears to have been unique in Late Bronze

Age Anatolian architecture. But while its size and spaciousness may

well have inspired the admiration and wonder of the king’s subjects,

envoys from foreign kings, particularly from Egypt, were likely to be

less impressed. Professor Bittel has suggested Egyptian influence in

the concept and design of the Great Hall, and has compared the

Coronation Hall at Akhetaten, though the latter’s proportions were

far grander.Tudhaliya had undoubtedly transformed his city into an

impressive showplace of the Late Bronze Age world. But it could

still not compare with the massive grandeur of the traditional royal

cities of pharaonic Egypt. No doubt Hittite envoys to the court of

Ramesses had this regularly pointed out to them.

The Temple of the Storm God

Even a Ramesses could hardly have failed to be impressed with what

is arguably the greatest of all Hittite architectural achievements—

the monumental Temple of the Storm God. This vast, sprawling

complex was constructed in the Lower City to the north-west of the

acropolis, and probably on the site of an earlier temple, during the

reign of Hattusili III. Built on a massive artificial terrace of great

stone blocks, it once rose to an imposing height above its surrounds,

especially on its north and east sides. Covering an area of over 20,000

square metres (160m. long and 135m. wide), it is many times the size

of any other temple complex within the city. In itself it was a grand

enterprise. But Hattusili may have conceived of it as merely a part of

something much grander still—the first step towards the realization

of a comprehensive new vision for the capital, a vision which, we

have suggested, was enthusiastically embraced and brought close to

fruition by his son and successor Tudhaliya.

The Storm God’s temple complex epitomizes the full and final

development of Hittite religious architecture out of the simple

domestic structures which probably typified Anatolian building

traditions long before the Hittite period.The Hittites may have borrowed

much else from their neighbours, but the evolution of their

temples belongs almost entirely within native Anatolian tradition.

The temples were essentially houses or household shrines built and

elaborated on a monumental scale—just as in the Greek world

temples were by and large an outgrowth of the simple house-like

structures where the images of the gods were sheltered.

The entire complex, surrounded by a temenos, or enclosure wall,

consists of three main elements typical of a number of Hittite temple

complexes—storerooms and workrooms, quarters for the temple

personnel, and the temple proper. In a number of respects it represents

almost the total antithesis of Western architectural tradition,as

epitomized by the Classical Greek temple. In the latter the emphasis

is on simplicity of design and function, on symmetry and harmony of

proportions. On entering a Greek temple one passes directly from

vestibule to cella, the inner sanctuary which houses the god’s image.

And the temple is often located on a site which shows it to its best

advantage, enabling the viewer to see and appreciate it in its totality.

Generally it served but one purpose—to provide a shelter for the

Fig. 14. Temple of the Storm God

god. By contrast, the Hittite temple complex served a range of purposes,

had many different parts to it, and was largely asymmetrical in

concept and design.

The route to the temple proper leads obliquely through the outer

precinct, so that each part of the complex is in effect screened from

its adjacent areas. The complex can never be comprehended in its

entirety by the visitor in its midst. Each turn of the route brings into

view something new—as if to intensify, by obscuring till the last

moment what lies ahead, the sense of awe and mystery felt by those

who were privileged to enter the temple’s inner world. The temple

itself is of a roughly symmetrical rectangular design. After making

the appropriate ritual ablutions, one enters it on the south-west side

through a hilammar, an elaborate gateway flanked by porters’

lodges or guard rooms.The gateway gives access to a large open-air

plastered courtyard. Here, we may suppose, in the presence of Their

Majesties and other dignitaries and priestly officials eligible to enter

the precinct’s most sacred areas, cultic ceremonies and ritual dramas

took place in honour of the deities to whom the temple was dedicated.

The courtyard is flanked on its north and south sides by almost

identical sets of rooms, perhaps to accommodate the images of those

who formed the kaluti or divine circles of the temple’s chief deities.

In the north-east of the courtyard was a small building, corresponding

to a similar structure in the courtyard of the temple buildings at

Yazılıkaya, where further ritual ablutions were made. For just

behind lay a colonnaded entrance which gave access to the temple’s

inner sanctum. One was now preparing to come before the divine


Though the name we commonly use for the temple suggests that it

was associated only with the Storm God, it was in fact dedicated to

two deities. In its holy of holies there were two shrines, one for each

of the gods who stood at the head of the Hittite pantheon—the

Storm God of Heaven and the Sun Goddess of Arinna,21 now identified

in Hattusili III’s reign with Hurrian Teshub and his consort

Hepat. Two stone bases indicate where the divine images once

stood—life-size gold and silver figures, perhaps in human form,

perhaps in abstract form, or perhaps in Teshub’s case in the form of a

bull. Particularly on a fine day, they must have been a resplendent

sight. Elsewhere in the Near East, and in Classical Greece, divine

images were forever enshrouded in gloom (except on festival occasions),

for their sanctuaries were totally shut off from the outside

world.22 But the Hittite deities in the Great Temple’s inner sanctuary

(as no doubt those in the sanctuaries of other temples) were illuminated

by natural light, from windows in the walls behind and on

either side of them, very likely reflecting a time when deities regularly

received homage in open-air sanctuaries.23

Of course windows not only let in the light of the outside world,

but also its noise, dust, and smells. Even within the temple precincts

there must have been plenty of each. The temple proper was surrounded

by bakehouses, breweries, butcheries, workshops, larders

for the gods’ food and drink, treasuries of spoils won in battle and

dedicated to the god, storerooms for the equipment and garments

used in festivals and rituals, rooms where divination was carried out.

There were also archive rooms containing records stored on clay

tablets; the Storm God’s temple was an important repository of

vassal and international treaties, its most famous item being the

‘eternal treaty’ which Hattusili drew up with Ramesses II.

A large staff was necessary to perform all the tasks associated with

the manifold aspects of a temple’s life and activities.The numbers of

cult personnel alone who were employed in the service of the Storm

God’s temple ran into the hundreds24—and included both those who

performed duties within the temple proper, and those appointed as

a kind of temple security force. The latter had the task of patrolling

the temple precinct by day and night, to ensure that it was kept

secure against all unauthorized entry. Penalties imposed for those

who failed to carry out their responsibilities ranged from humiliating

to extremely harsh:

There shall be watchmen employed by night who shall patrol all night

through. Outside, the enclosure guards shall watch; inside the temples, the

temple officials patrol all night through, and they shall not sleep. Night

by night one of the high priests shall be in charge of the patrols. Furthermore,

someone of those who are priests shall be in charge of the gate of the

temple and guard the temple. . . . If a guard fails to spend the night with

his god, in the event that they do not kill him, they shall humiliate him.

Naked—there shall be no garment on his body—he shall bring water three

times from Labarna’s cistern to the house of his god. Such shall be his


Cult personnel had living quarters within the temple precincts. But

there were many others employed by the temple who may have lived

outside the complex in the blocks of houses, separated by small

streets or lanes, to the west and north-west of the temple—the

butchers, the bakers, the brewers, the kitchen hands, the garmentmakers

and repairers, the carpenters, the craftsmen, and the cleaners.

All formed a community within a community—a city in

microcosm. As the temple personnel went about their allotted tasks,

as animal carcasses were quartered,repairs made to festival chariots,

dough pounded and bakehouse fires stoked, beer poured into large

earthenware pots for fermentation, as carts clattered to and fro with

fresh equipment and supplies, as bulky items for storage were manhandled

up flights of stairs for depositing in storerooms rising at least

one and perhaps two storeys above ground level—all this hubbub of

daily life cannot have failed to penetrate the temple’s innermost

sanctum. Yet the gods were obviously not averse to some level of

exposure to the noise of human activities (unlike the rancorous

Mesopotamian god who was so put out by the din of humanity that

he obliterated the lot of it in a flood), especially when such activities

were conducted in their honour.As we have seen,they could at times

be positively gregarious, on the occasions when they paraded

through the city streets and countryside, and shared with their worshippers

in the feasting and entertainment of festival programmes.

The People of Hattusa

A question frequently asked by the lay person is how many people

lived in the capital. The answer must be depressingly vague and

evasive. One can respond by saying it depends on the period, on

what precisely is meant by ‘living in’ the city, on whether or not the

city had a large floating population, and on a range of other factors.

Estimates suggested by various scholars vary from 10,000 to 40,000.

Both figures may well be valid for particular periods of Hittite

history, the lower one for an early stage in the city’s development, or

for the years in Muwatalli II’s reign when the city ceased to be the

royal capital,the higher figure,or an even higher one,perhaps for the

city’s final years. But any suggested figure can be little more than a

pure guess.We can always hope that the archaeologist’s spade will

throw more light on the matter. But as students of ancient demography

will hasten to point out, evidence provided by ancient residential

remains can be susceptible to a wide range of interpretations—to

the point where it is of very limited use for demographic purposes.

In Hattusa itself the residential areas so far known were probably

largely occupied by temple or palace personnel.

We have referred to the closely settled blocks of houses in the

Lower City outside the precinct of the Temple of the Storm God.

These were probably occupied by the more menial functionaries in

the temple’s service. The basic Hittite house was a two-roomed

mudbrick-and-timber-framework structure on a rubble foundation,

with forecourt and sometimes upper storey with external ladder

access.When space and circumstances allowed, more rooms could

be added. The residential area also contained larger free-standing

buildings erected on terraces, probably the houses of higher-ranking

personnel. But a large part of the city’s population must have lived

beyond the city walls, particularly during the city’s last decades when

its massive redevelopment undoubtedly required a substantially

increased workforce. In these final years increasing numbers of the

extramural population may have settled within the walls. This is

probably reflected in the reuse of the Temple 30 precinct for simple

residences and workshops, and the major changes in the temple

quarter in general, leading to the haphazard and apparently hastily

improvised layout of houses closely packed together on the sites of

former temples and on areas hitherto not built upon. Only a few

temples, the larger and more important ones, continued in operation.

26 Hattusa was no longer—if it ever had been—a purely sacred,

ceremonial city. Professor Neve sees these late changes as a sign of

the increasingly deteriorating political and economic situation of the

city—which may not least have been caused by the upheavals in the

royal house. Or they may reflect an increasing sense of insecurity

in general as the city and the kingdom neared its end, and the peripheral

population of the capital could no longer feel confident in the

king’s ability to protect them.

None of this is of much help in estimating the overall size of

Hattusa’s population. But we can be sure that it was a very mixed

and diverse one, in terms of occupations, social classes, and ethnic

origins. Even if the city focused predominantly on sacred and ceremonial

activities (and we have suggested that it may have been far

from unique in this respect), it still needed all the human infrastructural

support which any large city requires for effective functioning—

to say nothing of the troops essential for its defence in the

increasingly insecure last days of the kingdom, and the enormous

labour force that was certainly required for the city’s redevelopment.

No doubt this labour force was widely recruited from beyond

as well as within the homeland.

A veritable babel of languages must have echoed through the

thoroughfares and byways of Hattusa—royal bureaucrats speaking

the official Nesite language, Luwian-speaking descendants of

booty people brought back to the homeland from Hittite campaigns

in the west, Akkadian-speaking scribes and emissaries from the

Babylonian king, merchants and representatives of vassal rulers

from the Syrian states speaking a range of languages, Hurrianspeaking

priests and diviners in the service of the city’s many

temples, Egyptian-speaking envoys and their retinues on business

from the pharaoh and awaiting an audience with the Hittite king.

Even a few persistent echoes of the old Hattic language might also

have been heard.

On the official level communications between speakers of different

languages could be conducted, whenever necessary, with the aid

of bilingual or multilingual interpreters. No doubt a good deal of the

king’s business with foreign envoys was transacted in this way. But

how did people communicate with each other on everyday matters

in the street, given the dynamics of the population’s composition,

and the constant influx into the capital of foreign visitors and new

residents speaking different languages? Those who belonged to a

particular ethnic group and spoke the same language may well have

formed their own social communities and occupied their own residential

areas. But there must have been a considerable mixing of the

population on a daily basis, particularly in view of the collaboration

and teamwork required in the large-scale building projects of the

thirteenth century. From the range of languages spoken in the

capital a kind of street-speak or pidgin probably developed,made up

partly of words and phrases and expressions from the different languages

which various population groups had introduced into the

city, but also incorporating many new words and expressions developed

exclusively within a street-argot context.There must have been

common words for common items of food and drink and wearing

apparel—the knee-length tunic for men, the ankle-length cloak for

women, and the standard footwear of shoes in assorted colours with

upturned toes. An extensive repertoire of universally understood

obscenities no doubt decorated the language of the large numbers

of labourers and soldiers who swelled the capital’s population.

One would also have needed a basic common language to bargain

with street vendors for trinkets, or to negotiate with the makers

or purveyors of the fine jewellery much favoured in the Hittite

The Capital

world—earrings, finger-rings, necklaces, pendants, bracelets, little

amulets in the shape of human or animal figures or sun-discs.27


There must at all events have been a common word for what was

potentially one of the greatest dangers to the city. Fire! Temple officials

were instructed to observe the strictest vigilance in preventing

an outbreak of fire in a temple in their charge. The point is emphasized

by the severity of the penalty imposed upon an official whose

negligence has led to a temple’s destruction by fire:

Be particularly vigilant in the matter of fire. If there is a festival in the

temple, keep close watch over the fire. At nightfall, thoroughly extinguish

whatever of it remains on the hearth. In the event that there is any flame in

isolated spots and also dry wood, and the person responsible for extinguishing

it becomes criminally negligent in the temple, he who is guilty of the

crime will perish together with his descendants—even if only the temple is

destroyed and Hattusa and the king’s property are not harmed. Of those

who are in the temple (and thereby share in the crime of negligence), not one

is to be spared; together with their descendants they shall perish. In your

own interests, then, be particularly vigilant in the matter of fire.28

The concerns are understandable, given the timber-framed mudbrick

construction used in the great majority of the city’s buildings.

In one of her letters to Ramesses Queen Puduhepa refers to a fire

which destroyed a major building in the capital, perhaps a royal treasury.

She uses its destruction as an excuse for the delay in collecting

a dowry and sending the pharaoh his Hittite bride. A major fire in

Tudhaliya’s reign caused serious damage to part of the walls and

temple quarter.29 And at the very end of its existence, the entire city

was consumed in what must have been a spectacular conflagration.

Protection of the city against outbreaks of fire was one of the

chief responsibilities of Hattusa’s chief administrative official, the

Hazannu,30 a term generally translated as ‘Burgomaster’ or ‘Lord

Mayor’. The Hazannu’s immediate subordinate officers were two

officials or town governors (lú.mesˇ masˇkim.uru-LIM), each of whom

was given responsibility for one of the two districts into which the

city was divided. The Hazannu’s duties, specified in a set of instructions,

31 assigned him prime responsibility for the city’s security.

Watchmen under his charge were stationed throughout the city and

at various positions on the city’s walls and towers. From their

vantage points they not only kept a lookout for the approach of

enemy forces but were also able to keep a close watch on activities

within the city, directing those at ground level to extinguish

unwanted fires and maintain vigilance over those which were to be

kept burning. Here and in other regions, lookouts were also stationed

in watchtowers outside the city, to give early warning of an

enemy force while it was still some distance away.

The Hazannu had the further responsibility of ensuring that all

the city’s gates were securely locked in the evening. When these

bronze-sheathed wooden barriers were swung shut, copper bolts

were inserted and sealed with the stamp of the authorized officer.

The following morning the seal was first inspected to ensure that it

had not been tampered with, and was then broken so that the bolts

could be removed and the gates opened.32

Last Days

In spite of the attention he must have devoted to his new city, there is

little indication that in doing so Tudhaliya neglected the affairs of his

kingdom at large.We do hear of one major setback in the east where

his army suffered a disastrous defeat at the hands of the Assyrian

king Tukulti-Ninurta—probably the result of a serious underestimation

of the enemy’s strength and determination—and he seems to

have been faced with mounting threats in a number of parts of the

kingdom. Even so, to judge from his own inscriptions, including

the recently discovered hieroglyphic text from Yalburt, he dealt with

the threats from at least his western subject states with considerable

success. So too his son Suppiluliuma (II), the last attested Hittite

king, won a number of military triumphs, along the southern

Anatolian coast as well as in the waters off the coast of Alasiya

(Cyprus).33 His successes on land were achieved during an extensive

campaign which he recorded in a hieroglyphic inscription in

Chamber 2 of the so-called Südburg structure,34 the recently discovered

two-roomed cultic complex and sacred pool constructed in his

reign in the area south of the acropolis.

Of course a king is hardly likely to proclaim his military defeats on

his monuments; an impartial chronicler of the reigns of the last kings

may well have indicated a situation a good deal worse than the royal

inscriptions would have us believe. Above all,the enormous concentration

of resources which Tudhaliya’s building operations in the

capital must have entailed cannot have failed to diminish his

kingdom’s ability to defend and maintain itself in other areas. The

incentives for engaging in the enterprise, particularly given Hittite

kings’ sensitivity to the need to husband scarce human resources,

must have been very carefully weighed up against the costs.

We have suggested that the rebuilding of the capital was associated

initially with Hattusili III’s efforts to establish his own family

line as the legitimate royal dynasty. But there are other possibilities.

Was it due to a burst of religious fervour on Tudhaliya’s part, associated

with his extensive programme of religious reform? Was it a desperate

effort to win the favour of as many gods as possible, at a time

when Tudhaliya saw his kingdom beginning to crumble around him,

from internal as well as external pressures? Dramatically appealing

as such explanations may be, they do not altogether square with the

picture we have of an otherwise level-headed, pragmatic ruler who

kept his hands on the reins of empire as firmly as was possible in

those declining days.

Evidence seems to be mounting for widespread famine in the

kingdom in the last years of its existence.There were urgent appeals

for grain to be sent to the land of Hatti—a matter of life or death! If

there were such a famine, was it necessarily due to climatic conditions?

We have suggested that Hatti was becoming increasingly

dependent on imported grain in the last decades of the Bronze Age,

much of this grain coming from Egypt.The first indication of serious

food shortages in Hatti had appeared in one of Queen Puduhepa’s

letters to Ramesses, urging him to take over as soon as possible the

horses, cattle, and sheep forming part of the Hittite princess’s dowry

because, she claims, ‘I have no grain left in my lands.’ But chronic

shortfalls in Hatti’s own grain production may have been due as

much to a major redeployment of manpower from its agricultural

workforce as to poor rainfall and other factors of nature. It may well

be that the substantial number of labourers required for building

Tudhaliya’s new city were recruited from the land’s food-producing

population. So long as grain imports could be guaranteed from

abroad, however they were paid for, local shortfalls were not a

serious problem. But once these imports were disrupted, or cut off

altogether, by pirates or hostile coastal cities, a crisis very quickly

occurred. If the Hittites then turned to their own vassal subjects for

alternative sources of supply, their demands might well have led to

food shortages in the lands which supplied them. The local rulers

might then have found themselves in a position where they could

neither satisfy their overlord’s demands nor retain sufficient supplies

for their own people.

Ironically, then, the rebuilding of Hattusa might have actually

accelerated the kingdom’s final decline. Tudhaliya’s enterprise

marked a brilliant, brief florescence of Hittite culture at the very end

of the city’s and the kingdom’s existence. It took but a few years for

Hattusa to reach its spectacular new heights.Within a few years of its

builder’s death it was a smouldering ruin.The city which had risen up

almost 500 years earlier in defiance of Anitta’s curse had now ended,

abruptly, violently. The curse had taken effect. Anitta’s vengeance

was complete.