"Hittites: Nation of 1,000 Gods" Exhibit Opening in Berlin

After its grand opening this January 17 attended by Turkish Culture Minister M. İstemihan Talay, the exhibition “The Hittites: Nation of 1,000 Gods” was on display at Bonn, Germany’s Federal Exhibit Hall through June 9, attracting great attention and acclaim all along the way. Now the very same exhibit is set to open in Berlin.

The ancient Hittite’s first political union was established near the crescent of the Kızılırmak River in Anatolia around 2000 B.C. Exactly when and what route they took into Anatolia is not known for certain, but the currently prevailing theory holds that they came via the Caucasus together with the Palas and Luwis peoples, two Indo-European tribes, towards the end of 3000 B.C. The capital of the Hittite Empire was Hattuşaş (Boğazköy) and, covering an area of about two square kilometers, it was one of the largest cities of its time.

Although influenced by both Mesopotamia and the Hurrian people, the Hittites managed to preserve their own national identity. Through this interaction they formed a truly unique synthesis. According to written archives, they were ruled by a federal state system and they had a king. The king and queen exercised equal authority between themselves. Hittite society, on the other hand, was made up of classes of nobles, free people and slaves.

The Hittites’ tongue belongs to the Indo-European family of languages. In their writing the Hittites used cuneiform and hieroglyphics, and they employed the Akkadian language in official correspondence.

The Hittites were a richly polytheistic people. Their greatest gods were Teşup, their storm god, and Hepatu, their sun god. They had an organized army, yet were a peace-loving people. The greatest war in their history was the Kades War which they waged against the Egyptians. At the conclusion of this war they signed with the Egyptians the very first written agreement in history, the Treaty of Kades, and this very important document has survived down to our day.

The Hittites ruled Anatolia for 400 years until around 1200 B.C., when they fell in defeat and disappeared into the sands of time.

Currently, Turkish archaeologists are doing excavations and restorations of Hittite remains in the areas of Karatepe-Aslantas, Kayseri-Kultepe, Dorylelon (Sarhöyük), Sapinuwa (Ortaköy) and Alacahöyük. Teams of foreign archaeologists are also excavating in Hattuşaş (Boğazköy), Aslantepe-Malatya, and Sivas Kusakli-Basoren. Other rich Hittite settlements and ruins can be found in Inandik, Eskiyapar, Alacahöyük and Alisar.

In these excavations, some of which have been going on since 1893, archaeologists have discovered a large number of clay tablet records and over 30 temples.

In 1997, the groundwork began to be laid to put together this special exhibition, “The Hittites: A Nation of 1,000 Gods,” and for its voyage to Bonn. Over 150 pieces were carefully chosen and assembled from museums in Alacahöyük, Corum, Boğazköy, Kayseri, Sivas, Konya, Kastamonu, Karaman, Amasya, Afyon , Adana, Kahramanmaras, Gaziantep and Urfa, as well as the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and Ankara’s Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. Seven historical reconstructions are also displayed in this exhibit.

A copy of the historical Treaty of Kades signed between the Hittites and the Egyptians is among the rich pieces exhibited. Other historical treasures on display include stone reliefs, clay tablets, seals, miniature bronze sculptures, ceramic pottery and valuable gold objects. Just like the “Troy: Dreams and Reality” show before it, this special Hittite exhibit has attracted great attention and acclaim, and over a quarter of a million people to date have had the pleasure of seeing it. The exhibition will move to the Martin-Gropius building in Berlin with the financial support of the Prussian Culture Foundation, and the Berlin State Museums Front Asia Department.

The opening in Berlin is being realized by the undersecretary of our ministry, Fikret Nesip ÜÇCAN, on the 11th of July in 2002, and we are expecting that the same interest and admire of the exhibition in Bonn will also draw significant attention in Berlin.

Picture Gallery