General Information

Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire in the late Bronze Age and is located east of Ankara at the village of Boghazkale on the Anatolian Highlands. Excavations have been carried out by the German Archaeological Institute, which still reports the finding of new cuniform tablets anually.

Culture and History

Most notable finds were records, in the form of clay tablets with cuniform inscriptions, of Hittite kings, administrators and bureaucrats, but also trade documents shining a light on the barter system that was effective at the time. In addition, many diplomatic documents were also recovered, most importantly a copy of the Egyptian-Hittite peace treaty (also known as the Treaty of Kadesh) that was signed around 1259 BC, between Hattusili III of the Hittites and Ramesses II of the Egyptians. This document is also the oldest surviving international treaty, written in both Hittite cuniform and Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Egyptian version of this document is present at Ramesses II’s mortuary temple in Thebes, Egypt.

Hattusa was a city of gods and temples. Elevated parts of the city were purely used as sacred areas. A pair of sphinxes were even found at the southern gate in Hattusa, which were taken to Germany in 1917 for restoration. Although the better preserved sphinx was returned to Turkey in 1924, to be displayed at the Istanbul Archeology Museum, the other sphinx was at the possession of the Germans, until its final return to Turkey in 2011. Today, both sphinxes can be found at their original locations in Hattusa.

Modern estimates put the population of the city between 40,000 and 50,000 at its peak. A third of that number was housed within the inner city, where also the foundations and ruins of the Great Temple can be found. The city was eventually destroyed, together with the Hittite state itself, around 1200 BC, as part of the Bronze Age collapse, which had also swallowed the major cities of Mycenae and Ugarit within its chaos.