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Hittites /
Other spellings: Hattuşaş; Hattusa; Khattusas

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Hittites: Aerial view of Hattusha. Modern Bogazkale, Turkey.
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Aerial view of Hattusha. Modern Bogazkale, Turkey. Photo: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/Corbis,

Ancient town, capital of the Hittite Empire. Its population is estimated to have been 50,000 at its most.
Hattusha was an imperial capital from about 1680 until 1193 BCE, less than 500 years. Strong state formations of the Hittites lasted until 710, but now Carchemish had replaced Hattusha as the strong city of the region.
Its modern location is in north-central Turkey, close to the modern village of Bogazkale, which has between 2,000 and 3,000 inhabitants. 35 km southeast is Yozgat while Ankara is about 170 km west.
The location of Hattusha is curious, while all major capitals throughout history were at the most central location possible, Hattusha was in all ways remote. But, the actual remoteness may have been its most important quality. Any advancing army would waste their strength long before arriving here. The city itself was built on a natural fortress, on a mountain slope, between two deeply cut riverbeds.
The city location benefitted from plentiful of water, a surrounding region of rich agriculture, good condition for livestock raising and forests. From the agriculture all basic foods was provided, linen could be harvested but wool from sheep was the most important source for clothing. The forests provided necessary timber both for housing and the construction of many forms of military equipment.
Hattusha was protected by city walls following the natural fortress of the mountain. The city was about 2 km from north to south, and 1.2 km east to west. Hattusha had two circles of city walls, the inner section was made up by a citadel, administrative buildings and temples.
The Great Temple is presently the largest structure. It dates back to the 14th century BCE, and was dedicated to the storm god, Teshuba, and sun goddess, Hebut. The temple proper is built according to universal principles, with sections of increasing sanctity and with an open courtyard. Around it were built 78 storage rooms after an irregular plan (see Hittite religion).
The main city and the residential quarters rest together south of the fortified inner city. Two stone lions and two sphinxes protect each their city gate, a third gate is noted for a relief figure of the god Teshuba, still it is called King's Gate.
Among the most important discoveries at Hattusha has been the royal archives of clay tablets, with inscriptions in cuneiform. One of the tablets contain details of the peace settlement between the Hittites and the Egyptians from the early 13th century BC.

3rd millennium BCE: First records of settlements here, populated by a people called Hatti.
Early 2nd millennium: Assyrian presence, the name appears to be Hattus. Hattus is, however, second in regional importance to the colony of Kanesh (near modern Kayseri).
Around 1900 BCE: The Hittites, most probably coming from western Europe, conquer Hattus. In their language it would become known as Hattusha.
After 1800: King Anittas of Kussara defeats the king of Hattusha, King Piyusti.
Middle 17th century: King Labarnas of Kussara makes Hattusha his new capital, taking the name Hattusilis 1. He is regarded as one of the founders of the Old Hittite kingdom.
1380: Hattusha is destroyed by unknown invaders.
Middle 14th century: Hattusha rebuilt by the command of King Suppiluliumas 1, under whose reign the territory of the Hittite kingdom grew across Anatolia and into Syria.
1300: The Hittite capital is relocated from Hattusha by the command of King Muwatallis, but returned to Hattusha by the succeeding king.
1193: Hattusha is destroyed, as part of the fall of the Hittite Empire, caused by the Sea People. It appears that Hattusha would remain abandoned after that for many centuries.
8th century: New settlement, belonging to the Phrygians.
3rd century: The Celtic tribe of Galatians invade from Europe and settle in the region of Hattusha.
Early 1st millennium CE: Hattusha is again abandoned.
1834: Ruins of Hattusha are discovered.
1906: Excavations begin.
1986: Hattusha is added to the UNESCO World Heritage list.

By Tore Kjeilen