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Çorum - Historical Ruins


Alacahöyük Site

The Alacahöyük site lies 45 km south of Çorum and 17 km northwest of Alaca district. It is within the settlement area of Alacahöyük village which is 34 km from Boğazköy and 210 km from Ankara.

The mound was introduced to the world of science for the first time in 1835 by W.C. Hamilton and since then it has become a frequently visited spot for scholars who travel to Central Anatolia. G. Perrot came to the mound in 1861 during his Anatolian travels and revealed the plan of the four cornered tower on the left and right sides of the gate and one of the orthostadts. After this discovery, Perrot became the first person to claim that these reliefs belonged to the Hittite period.

W. Ramsley, who has made considerable contributions to the historical geography of Anatolia, also studied the mound with Wilson in 1881 and added some new reliefs to those already known. When C. Chanter came to Anatolia in 1893, he visited the mound for the first time and brought to light the square pass betwen the Sphinxes and the second entrance behind it and the frames of the door. Chanter, who made casts of the reliefs, moving from the themes they depicted, claimed, like Perrot, that this was more likely a temple gate rather than a palace one. After Ramsey’s research Chantre, who also studied the lions to the south of the gate with the Sphinx, reinforced the fact that the inscriptions on one of them was Phrygian.

Later H. Winckler, who had been working at Boğazköy since 1906, decided together with Makridi Bey to carry out investigatons at the mound following the suggestion of Halil Ethem Bey who was the Director of the İstanbul Archaoelogical Museum. In 1907 Makridi Bey worked on the gate with the Sphinx for nearly 15 days and at the end he found a few new orthostadts in front of the door. Following some boring work at several places on the mound, he saw the pattern at the northern skirts of the hill and compared it with the one at Boğazköy.

The first systematic excavations in the real sense at the mound started in 1935 as Atatürk initiated the period of national excavations after the establishment of the republic, on behalf of the Turkish History Association by Hamit Zübeyr Koşar, Remzi Oğuz Arık and Mahmut Akok, which continued until 1983. The excavations were halted at that time but started again in 1997 by Prof. Dr. Aykut Çınaroğlu.

As a result of the investigations and excavations, 4 cultural layers were determined in the mound which was a scene of settlements from the Chalcolitic Age to the present without any interruptions. These layers which covered the Chalcolitic, Old Bronze, Hititte and Phrygian periods are divided into 15 architectural levels between them according to which:

Calcholitic Age:
4000 - 3000 B. C. on main ground layers 15-9
Old Bronze Age :
3000 - 2000 B.C. layers 8-5
Hittite period :
1800 - 1200 B.C.layers 4-2
Phrygian period : from 750 B.C. on layer 1

The first settlement of the mound built in the Chalcolitic Age was on a piece of land which was protected in the north by small hills and which was located above the water level but did not progress beyond the status of being a small village. The architecture of that period consisted of stone foundations and mud brick walls above it and the roofs were covered with reeds and compressed with a flat earth roof.

The Old Bronze Age which followed the Chalcolitic period is represented by 4 building layers. It gained importance in Alacahöyük with the discovery of 13 royal graves. The graves which are claimed to belong to layers 5 and 7 were built by allocating a special place for them in the city and are unique examples in Anatolia and even in Asia Minor. They belong to adult males and females. No children or babies were buried in these graves and no multiple burials were encountered. Unlike other grave types in Central Anatolia, there is a unity of orientation of both the graves and the dead in Alacahöyük. The grave gifts are the richest and have the greatest variety when compared to those known in the Agean and Asia Minor areas in the Old Bronze Age. Sundials, bull and deer statues, all types of ornamental objects, war weapons such as knives, daggers and axes all of which were made from baked earth, stone, gold, silver, bronze, copper and electron, were offered. The architectural system of Alacahöyük during the Old Bronze Age had the construction technique specific to Anatolia, that is, mud brick walls on top of a stone foundation, plastered walls and floors, flat ceilings and earthen roofs.

The Hittite layers which form the currently visible part of Alacahöyük consist of three building layers. At that period a defence system was built around the mound in the shape similar to a circle with a 250 meter diameter. Two main gates were found which provided the entrance to the city through the defence system. One of these gates is the gate with the Sphinx in south-west and the other one is the gate with porten in the western part of the mound.
There are two Sphinxes at the south-east gate making up the religious entrance of the probable city in the mound. Heads are the distinguished features in the Sphinx protoms which are carved on monolythic stone jambs and are higher than two metres. In both Sphinxes, Hotor style hairs start from the forehead and come down to the shoulders and the hair ends in helozonic curls. The Sphinxes have bloated bodies protruding forward and they are standing on short and set apart legs. On the inner side of the Sphinx to the east one can see a double headed eagle carrying a rabbit in its claws and above it, the feet of a possible goddess with long garments, facing the city, and the part of her skirt which have survived.

The reliefs which are under the towers in the east and west of the gate with the Sphinx are shaped in base relief. They are only lightly shaped and the details are given with plasticity. Almost all of the western tower orthostadts can be followed as a continuous frieze. In this section we see that cult-libation themes at the bottom and hunting scenes at the top. In the holy day rituals which were celebrated in the honour of the storm god and which are also known from the Hittite texts the King and the Queen who were the chief priest and priestess are shown here in a praying position in front of the bull and the following reliefs describe the other parts of the ceremony. The people praying in front of the sitting goddess at the eastern tower also show the continuation of the cult ceremony.

Entering the gate with the sphinxes and passing through the entrance complex, the foundations of a large Hittite building defined as a temple-palace are seen on the right. This building is composed of various storage rooms and other complexes.

Alacahöyük excavations have an important place in the world archaeology literature since it is a single centre which provides a continuous stratigraphy of the Northern Region of Central Anatolia and it enlightens the old Bronze Age with the 13 royal graves and the Hittite period with its ruins of monumental architectural buildings.

Boğazköy Site

The historical site of Boğazköy (Hattusas) is located 82km southwest of Çorum and it is 208 km from Ankara. Boğazköy (Hattusas) site which was located in the core region of the Hittite state is at the southern end of the Budaközü River valley, at the elevation of 300 metres from the plain surrounded by numerous rock masses and the separations of mountain sides and deep clefts to the north and west. The city is open towards the north and surrounded by city walls on all sides except the north.

The Hattusas historical site was first visited by Charles Dexter in 1834 and introduced to the world. Later Sayce made the first connection between these ruins and the Hittite state until the centre of the Hittites was considered to be in Syria. In 1882, Carl Human came to Boğazköy with Otto Puchstein and they made a comprehensive planning study for the first time. They also made castings of Yazılıkaya which is currently in the Pergamon museum. During the years 1893-1894 E. Chantre carried out the first explorative excavations and in 1905 Makridi and H.Winckler visited Boğazköy and carried out the excavations which continued until 1917. The systematic excavations which were started in 1932 by Kurt Bittel on behalf of the German Archaeological Instutute were stopped for a while during the World War II and the work was later resumed and continued under the same excavation leader until 1978. The excavations which are carried out under the leadership of Dr. Peter Neve from 1978 to 1993 are still progressing on behalf of the same institution by Dr. Jurgen Seer.

Settlements existed at the Boğazköy (Hattusas) site since the 3rd millennium B.C. The small and fortified settlements of that period were at Büyükkale and its environs. In the 19th and 18th centuries B.C. settlements from the age of Assyrian Trade Colonies are seen at the Lower City and the name of the city was first discovered from the written documents of that era.

The first period of development at Hattusas terminated with a major fire and the culprit behind this fire must be the Kushara King Anitta. According to documents, right after this destruction, around 1700 B.C. Hattusas was settled once more and became the capital of the Hittite state in 1600s and its builder was Hattusilis I. who was of Kushara origin just like Anitta.

After Hattusas became the capital, a monumental building development could be seen at the farthest point of the spreading settlement and the city took its form in the 13th century B.C. with 2 km wide palace and temple districts. In the second development period of Hattusas three important Hittite kings played a significant role both positive and negative during the last years of the Empire Hattusilis III, his son Tudhaliyas IV, and his son Suppiuliumas II. When the Hittite state was destroyed due to economic hardships and internal strife during the last years of the Suppiuliumas II reign (1190 B.C.), Boğazköy was abandoned for a period of 4 centuries and the first settlements seen after this gap are Phrygian (middle of 8th century B.C.) During the Hellenistic and Roman times (3rd century B.C - 3rd century A.D.) Hattusas is a fiefdom centre surrounded by a small wall and it appears as a village during the Byzantine period.

The part of Hattusas known as the Upper City is a sloped land of more than 1 square kilometre. This area witnessed the development of the city during the late Empire Period in the 13th century B.C. A major part of the Upper City solely consisted of temples and sacred places. The upper City is surrounded in south by a city wall which draws a large arch and has 5 gates. At the farthest southern point of the wall and at the highest point of the city, the gate with the Sphinxes is located with its bastion rising above anything else. Of the other four gates the two facing one another at the southern and western tips of the city walls are the royal gate and the gate with the lion.

The building development seen in the Upper City has been in three stages. The first stage coincides with the construction of the city walls. The second stage is the stage of rebuilding and giving the temple city its final form following the first destrution of the walls. During the last stage a new construction activity started in addition to the repairs and renovations carried out in the existing buildings for the purposes other than the religious ones. In the Upper City, the area known as the district of the temples reaches from the gate with the Sphinxes to Nişantepe and Sarıkale. In this part many temples were revealed originating from different stages. The general characteristics of the temple plans were defined by the cult room groups which are entered from a central court yard and consist of a narrow fore-space and a deep main space. The material obtained from the temples is divided into five groups:

1- Utilized ceramics;

2- Utilized tools;

3- Weapons;

4- Cult objects;

5- Written documents.

In the Upper City post-Hittite buildings at Nişantepe and Güneykale, which are right at the front of Büyükkale, are significant and this is the Phrygian settlement which is dated to 6-7th centuries B.C. For the Hittite period this area is studied in three sections defined according to the topography. The pass to the south of Büyükkale (Viaduct), the plateau which was previously settled which is to the north of Nişantepe on both sides of the roads leading to the Upper City and the area at the site of Güneykale.

The road network which connected to Nişantepe and the Upper City through the viaduct reaches a complex with a stone laid inner court with buildings on the north, south and east sides and a gate on the fourth.

The important buildings besides the northern and southern structures are the western building and the palace Archives. It is assumed that the building which was destroyed in a big fire had two basement floors on the slope. Nearly 3300 annals and 30 tablets with hieroglyph inscriptions were found in these two basements. 2/3 of the annals carry great king seals and represents kings from Suppiuliuma I to the last king of Hattusas, his great son Suppiuliuma II in chronological order. Besides the king seals, queen seals were also discovered.

The construction at Güneykale was carried out by Suppiuliuma II. There is a large artificial lake and three buildings on three separate points around it. Two of these buildings are still standing and named Room 1 and 2; Room 2 is to the west of the northern corner of the lake. This room has a single space and it has a parabolic dome which diminishes as it becomes narrower towards the inside. There were few remains found in situ in Room 1. All three walls of Room 2 are decorated with reliefs. The main picture on the opposite wall has a figure with a long garment which faces towards the left. There is a sundial with wings on the round head dress and the figure holds a lotus in the left hand and an arch motif in the right one. On the west wall facing the sundial there is a hierographic inscription.

The excavations carried out at Büyükkale which is built on a hill of the natural rock area to the south of the city proper has revealed the palace buildings of the Hittite Kings of the 13 - 14th century B.C. and the characteristics of the wall systems which were for their defence. The walls of the castle whose entrance gate is in south-west are built on beds carved into the rock in the north and south and on a piled earth level in the south with the chest wall technique. The palace building cannot be seen as a whole from Büyükkale. Buildings of varying types and sizes, large interior spaces connected together with courts and columned galleries within the castle were revealed with excavations. The castle has rooms for archives and storage, a large reception hall, buildings related to the water cult and sacred spaces. Remains of the Phrygian buildings were found in the castle following the Hittites.

One of the most important architectural sites at Boğazköy is the Great Temple (Temple no.1). The Great Temple which formed the centre of the northern city in Hattusas was built as the home of Storm God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of the Arinna City. The temple has two additions and there are stone paved roads and squares around it and storage rooms which open up to them in all four directions are located behind the temple. The Great Temple is separated from the districts of the Lower City by a wall. The Great Temple which is built on a stone terrace apparently served as an economic as well as a religious centre according to the indication of the large jugs revealed in situ in the shops. Again the tablets found in the eastern shops of the temple show the existence of the archives.

The Great Temple is surrounded by buildings of a secondary importance. The most important one among them is the Slope House. It deserves attention due to its large size, its plan and the fact that it is a multi-storey building.

Excavations on the Hattusas historical site have been carried out at/in Büyükkaya since 1993. The discovered ceramics show that a small settlement which was first built during the Chalcolithic Age was still a settlement during the period known as the Dark Age. However, the investigations have shown that there were large silos with stone paved floors during the Empire period. At Büyükkaya, which also witnessed the Phrygian period, settlements from the early Phrygian period are defined.

Yazılıkaya Open Air Shrine
Yazılıkaya which is located 2 km to the northwest of the Hattusas historical site was the Open Air Shrine of the Hittite Empire. It consists of a natural rock, two rooms and a Hittite temple in front of it which reflects the characteristics of the Hittite architecture.

In the Yazılıkaya open air shrine there is a big gallery named Room A, and a small gallery, named Room B, both of which are built into a natural rock.
The west wall of the Big Gallery (Room A) is decorated with god reliefs while the east wall is decorated with reliefs of the goddesses. The figures on both walls face the section with the main scene and the east and west walls join the north wall. The gods generally have pointed hats, short garments belted at the waist, shoes with upturned points and earrings. Most of them carry a curved sword or a mace. All the goddesses wear cylindrical head dresses on their heads and long skirts. On the north wall where the east and west walls meet there are the chief gods composing the main scene. Here we can see the Mountain God Teshup standing above the air gods, his wife Goddess Hepatu, their son Sharruma and a double headed eagle. The relief of King Tuthalia IV is on the east wall and it is the largest relief of the gallery.

The Small Gallery (Room B) which has a separate entrance is protected by a winged, lion headed and human bodied genie placed on both sides of the entrance. There are twelve gods proceeding towards the right on the west wall of Room B and the God of Sword and King Tuthalia IV who is under the protection of God Sharruma on the east wall. Besides the well preserved reliefs, this section has three niches carved into the rock which are assumed to be used for some gifts or the ashes of the Hittite royal family.

With all these features and the addition of the spaces built at the front, Yazılıkaya has survived to our times as a Hittite shrine.

Ortaköy Site

Ortaköy is 53 km south-east of Çorum province and north-east of Alaca Plain on the strait where Göynücek, Zile and Amasya plains meet. The Ortaköy historical site is at Tepelerarası and Ağılönü location which is 2.5 km away from the district centre in the southwest direction.

Excavations at Ortaköy site started in 1990 under the leadership of the Çorum Museum Directorate and were continued during 1991. The excavations which have been carried out under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Aygül Süel since 1992 are still progressing with the same team.

The region has been settled since early ages up to our times owing to the significance of its geographical location and its high agricultural potential. The excavations so far have revealed a temple-palace complex built with large sized stones which are dated to the Empire period, and a second place located 150 m southwest from this building and defined as three mud brick storage rooms which are built with the same technique. Inside the Hittite Empire period buildings stone sarcophagi from the Roman period were found. These graves do not follow a distinctly defined arrangement and there are no multiple burials.

The excavations also brought to light Hittite archives holding more than 3000 hieroglyph documents inside the monumental temple-palace complex which hopefully will add novel information about the Hittite history and culture. Besides the tablets which are protected in the Çorum Museum and are known to include religious and political subjects, there are many letters, ceramics of various forms, metal tools, triangular objects, and obsidient ornaments and seal stamps among the significant findings.

According to the initial work on the hieroglyph documents obtained from the still progressing Ortaköy site excavations, the leader of the excavation team has announced that Ortaköy was named Shapinuva in the Hittite period.

Pazarlı Site
Pazarlı historical site is located in the Çikhasan Village which is 30 km north of Alaca. During the years 1937 - 38 it was investigated by Dr. Hamit Zübeyr Koşar and Mahmut Akok on behalf of the Turkish History Association and the excavations showed that it had been settled during the Chalcolithic, Old Bronze, Hittite, Phrygian and Classical Periods. The Phrygian period layer represents the most important period of Pazarlı. Excavations brought to light ruins of a castle and reliefed panels which were apparently used as façade decorations on the two storey mud brick buildings with stone foundations. The tablets from this period are decorated with walking warriors, lion-bull struggles, centaurs and mountain goats climbing life trees with gryphon decorations and these architectural terracottas (baked earth tablets) form the best examples of the Anatolian archaeology of the 7th-6thcenturies B.C.
A scaled model of the Phrygian period settlement area of Pazarlı and the castle surrounding this settlement and the ceramics and other findings discovered here are now in the Çorum and Alacahöyük museums while the coloured tablets of baked earth are exhibited in the Çorum Museum only and the Phrygian section of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is in Ankara.

Eskiyapar Site

The mound which is 5 km to the west of Alaca District on Alaca-Sungurlu road is located 25 km northwest from Boğazköy and 20km southeast from Alacahöyük.

The first excavations in Eskiyapar were started in 1968 on behalf of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations of Ankara under the leadership of Raci Temizer and this work was continued until 1983. The excavations were terminated on that date and restarted by the Çorum Museum Directorate during 1989 - 1991. The excavations showed the existence of an uninterrupted settlement at the mound and the Old Bronze, Hittite, Phrygian, Roman and two staged Hellenistic periods were encountered.
The foundations of the city wall of the Hittite Empire period were discovered in the northwest and western parts of the mound and the buildings which had rectangular plans and stone paved courtyards and were built in the Hittite style show no differences from those found at Alacahöyük and Boğazköy. A large amount of baked earth material was found in most of the burnt out houses of the Old Hittite period district which spreads out over a large area in the southeast section of the mound. The reliefed cult vases also found in these parts have strengthened the opinion that this was a religious centre.
During the work carried out on the Old Bronze Age layers at the mound which were beneath the Hittite layers, a buried treasure of gold and silver objects was found under the floor of one of the houses. The treasure which held silver vases, a Syrian bottle, a silver ceremonial axe, various types of gold pins, beads, earrings and bracelets are similar both to the findings of Alacahöyük, Kültepe as well as to those from Troy, Poliochini and Northern Syria- Mesapotamia. These findings are exhibited in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

Yörüklü (Hüseyindede Hill)

The area at a location known as Hüseyindede Hill at the Yörüklü setllement of the Sungurlu District of Çorum province caught the attention of Assist.Prof. Dr.Tunç Sipahi and Assist.Prof.Dr.Fayfun Yıldırım from the Prehistory and Asia Minor Archaeology Section of the Faculty of Languages, History and Geograpy of the Ankara Univerisity as being destroyed by illegal excavations, a short term salvage excavation was undertaken in 1997 under the leadership of the Çorum Museum Directorate.

At the end of this investigation pieces of two separate reliefed vases from the Old Hittite period were found in a single space room which belonged to the same period. The restoration work on the obtained pieces showed one of them to be in the İnandık style and the other one to be a smaller vase which had a decorative band around its neck showing Hittite religious ceremonies in a single frieze. The most important scene on this descriptive band is the somersaulting acrobat on a bull. At the edge of the mouth of the large vase in the İnandık style there are a small vessel and four bull heads looking inside as well as four descriptive bands. The subjects of the descriptive bands are again the religious ceremonies of the Hittite period. Besides these reliefed vases, flask shaped cups from the old Hittite period with whose forms we were already familiar and round mouthed and high necked jugs were also found. In the investigations of 1998 the architecture belonging to the Old Hittite period was tracked which appeared to be executed in terraces, and the excavation work will be continued in the coming years.