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The national sanctuary of the Hittite Empire, today called Yazılıkaya, lies 2 km. north-east of Hattusa (Boğazköy). It was a natural rock shrine, open to the sky. The temple buildings later erected in front of this cult area display remains of three different periods. The accompanying ground plan of Yazılıkaya, however, shows only the second phase of the temple. Nevertheless, an examination of the ruins on the spot reveals that at the lowest level was a simple enclosing wall, which separated the rock shrine from the outside world in the first period. In the second phase a temple was built in the canonical type of Hittite sanctuaries (plan of Yazılıkaya) developed in Hattusa (plan of temples). A gatehouse (plan of Yazılıkaya C) was constructed at this time, similar to the gateway in the Great Temple at Hattusa (plan of temples), which served as a monumental entrance to the sanctuary. During the same phase, a gateway was erected in front of the small gallery (plan of Yazılıkaya E). In the third period, the east wing of the main building was altered to accommodate the construction of a more appropriate entrance in front of the small gallery. The temple of the second phase, like the sanctuaries at Hattusa, consisted of rooms surrounding a courtyard with a lustral chamber and a pillared hall giving access to the cult room (plan of Yazılıkaya). However, religious ceremonies, which in the temple of Hattusa took place in closed rooms before the statue of the Storm God, were performed in the rock gallery in the open air, below reliefs representing almost the entire Hittite pantheon.

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Plan of Yazılıkaya.

  1. Great Rock-Gallery adorned with reliefs representing 63 Hittite divinities. Probably erected by Hattusiti III (1275-1250 B. C.).
  2. Small Rock-Gallery, a mortuary temple reserved for the royal cult. Probably erected by Tudhaliya IV (1250-1220 B. C.).
  3. Monumental Gateway leading to the temple (D), erected by Hattusili III.
  4. Main building of the temple. Probably erected by Hattusiti III (see p. 262).
  5. Entrance giving access to the small gallery. Possibly it was erected by Tudholiya IV.

A third open-air chamber, connected with the Small Gallery and marked C (not shown on our plan), was excavated last year. The function of this room, which has no reliefs, is not known yet.

The west wall in the large gallery is adorned with reliefs of gods (Nos. 1-39), while those on the east wall are devoted to goddesses (Nos. 43-63). Both rows meet at the junction of these walls with the north wall (Nos. 40-46 and main scene). The division into male and female deities is not absolute; three goddesses can be discerned among the gods (see relief of gods, Nos. 36-38; Ishtar), and one god is noticeable in the row of females (No. 44). The central scene on the north wall depicts the chief divinities.

A place of particular significance has been allotted to the relief of King Tudhaliya IV (1250-1220 B. C.). It is the largest relief in the gallery (plan of Yazılıkaya, No. 64; portray of Tudhaliya), being 2.95 meter in height, one third more than that of the main scene, which is only 2.18 m. high. We may assume that Tudhaliya had his picture carved on the east wall overlooking the main scene because he was personally interested in the completion of the sanctuary. This was originally erected by his father Hattusili III (1275-1250 B. C.), in collaboration with Puduhepa, his ambitious mother. No doubt Puduhepa, who was a powerful queen and afterwards reigned with her son Tudhaliya IV, played an important part in the construction of this sanctuary. As Emmanuel Laroche has recognized, this contained, a magnificent representation of the Hittite pantheon, arranged according to the ceremonial order of the Hurrian religion. She was a princess of Kummanni in Kizzuwatna, one of the chief cult centres of the goddess Hepatu, who is depicted in the main scene at the sanctuary (No. 43). Her very name betrays that she was a devotee of Hepatu. The Egyptian version of the treaty between Hattusili III and Rameses II describes the royal seal appearing on the Hittite silver tablet as showing the queen in the embrace of the Sun Goddess of Arinna, the Hittite counterpart of the Hurrian Hepatu. On the whole, however, the divinities were represented in their Anatolian Hittite character. Although the composition of the reliefs follows the ceremonial order observed in the Hurrian religion, the deities themselves are depicted entirely according to Hittite iconographic principles. A beholder from Hattusa would only see representations of Hittite deities before him. The artistic style of the reliefs is also wholly Hittite in character.

The small gallery, which was approached by a separate entrance (plan of Yazılıkaya), also contains a number of relief sculptures in a good state of preservation. Kurt Bittel and his colleagues, the excavators of Yazılıkaya, are of the opinion that this small gallery was dedicated to the cult of a dead king, either Tudhaliya II or III. Although this clever interpretation is in complete agreement with written sources and with the non-oriental character of the Hittite culture and religion, it would seem that this gallery was nevertheless reserved for the apotheosis of King Tudhaliya IV in his lifetime; for there are two portrayals of the monarch in the small gallery as well as the large relief in the main one. Apart from the magnificent relief sculpture in the small gallery showing the king in the Sword God and Sharrumaembrace of the god Sharruma, there was also a statue of him which is now lost, though its statue-base and cartouche on the wall still exist (plan of Yazılıkaya, No. 83). It is significant that not only is the entrance directly opposite the statue-base, but, in addition, all the figures in the gallery are turned towards it (reliefs of Sharruma, the twelf gods, sword god). Bearing in mind that the king was represented three times and that his reliefs and statue occupied the most important position in both galleries and, further, that he was depicted to the exclusion of all other rulers, one is inclined to assert that these images were made during his lifetime. On the other hand, none of these portrayals can have represented Tudhaliya III, who reigned from 1400 to 1380 BC, Reliefs which reflect such a marked Hurrian influence and display such iconographical uniformity could only have been realised in the time of Puduhepa, the daughter of the high priest from the Hurrian country of Kizzuwatna. She had clay tablets from Kizzuwatna copied for the Hisuwa festivals. Consequently, Tudhaliya IV was introduced to the Hurrian religion in his mother's house. Thus he reorganised the Hittite state cult according to Hurrian rites. The stylistic differences between the three cartouches may have no chronological importance as they were probably carved by different sculptors or at different periods during the monarch's life. We, therefore, believe that the temple of the second phase, together with the reliefs of divinities in the large gallery, was built in the reign of Hattusili III (1275-1250 B. C.), and the relief of Tudhaliya, the small gallery and the third phase of the temple were achievements of Tudhaliya IV (1250-1220 B. C.). The possibility that his son Arnuwanda IV (1220-1190 B. C.) could have erected the sanctuary is out of the question, for his reign fell in so troubled a period that he could hardly have been in a position to make artistic and religious undertakings of such magnitude.

The three rectangular niches in the small gallery may have contained the burial urns of the Hittite royal family, beginning with Hattusili III and his wife Puduhepa.

Rock SanctuaryRock sanctuary at Yazılıkaya. General view of the great gallery. The reliefs, which consist of 64 figures and represent 63 deities of the Hittite pantheon, were carved in the reign of Hattusiti III (1275-1250 BC).