Boğazkale (the current name) means the citadel at the pass. It is and accurate description of the situation of Hattutas, the stronghold-capital of the Hittite Empire from about 1750 to 1100 BC. Located about 150 km east of Ankara, Hattussas was probably chosen for its strategic location on easily defended hill in the center of the empire. I sits between two rivers and near the crossroads of two ancient trade routes.
The Hittites were an Indo – European people whose kingdom at its height included much of Lebanon, northern Syria, east to the Euphrates, west possibly as far as the Aegean Sea and north to the southern slopes of the mountains that edge the Black sea. They challenged Egypt and Assyria for control of central Syria. They may have participated in the Trojan War. There are biblical references to them: Ezekiel calls the mother of Jerusalem a Hittite; that may or may not be a metaphor. Heth, one of Canaan’s sons in the Table of Nations is te presumed ancestor of the Hittites. Isaac disapproved of his son Esau because Esau had Httite wives. Uriah, one of King David’s soldiers, was a Hittite. The Bible doesn’t say what nation Uriah’s wife Bathheba belonged to.)
For centuries the Hittites were lost to history until in the late 19th and early 20th centuries scholars became curious about inscriptions in a previously unknown language found at such widely separated locations as Aleppo, Babylon and Boğazkale. Their interest was spurred when one of the thousands of tables they found in the king’s archives in Boğazkale turned out to be the Hittite copy of the treaty between Pharaoh Ramses II and King Muwatallis. Thiswas the agreement they had made following the Battle of Kadesh in about 1290 BC; the Egyptian copy of it was known and somewhat discounted. As more and more tablets were translated, the importance and power of this kingdom became evident.
Other buildings include several temples including a large one to Teshub, the Weather-god, with a large stone basin carved on two sides with lions, a palace, houses and the fortifications. The walls are punctuated by towers and gates. The king’s Gate on the southeast side is distinguished by the relief of a war god. The original of this relief is in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara; this is a copy. The long, corbeled exit, Yer Kapı, is guarded by two sphinxes; a short distance beyond it at the top of the hill at the Lion’s Gate two stone lions (late 14th or early 13th century BC) bare their teeth at all (inlcluding any evil spirits) who wish to enter their gate past them.
King Suppiluliama I stands out as the ruler under whom the Hittite Empire became a major power. Before him, the Hurrians (related to the Mitanni) were the strongest power controlling the northern are between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Suppliluliama defeated them taking over their land and going on to further enlarge his own kingdom south toward Damascus and west toward the Aegean. Thus the Hittites became rivals of the Babylonians and the Egyptians. The Battle of Kadesh on the Orantes River was important because in it Suppiluliama’s grandson Muwatallis defeated the Egyptians.
One of the generals in the battle was Hattusilis II, the brother of Muwatallis. On his way back to Hattusas, Hattusilis stopped at a Hurrian temple to the goddess Ishtar to offer his thanks to her for saving his life. A “goddess” appeared to him during the ceremony; apparently she was Puduhepa, the daughter of High Priest, whom Hattusilis then married. On muwatallis’ death the succession passed to Urhi – Teshub who proved to be a weak ruler. With the help of Puduhepa, Hattusilis, in some court records, and in a relifef-portrait of them on a rock face above the Yenice River at Fıraktin southeast of Develi.
Puduhepa was a remarkable woman: She was a busy mother, a faithful wife, an active international diplomat, and, even though as Hurrian she was a foreigner, a succesful queen of the Hittites. She and her husband had at least five children who married well. Two of their daughters became queens in Egypt. Puduhepa was a religious leader, and with her son, Tuthaliya IV, she was a cultic reformer who introduced Hurrian beliefs into the Hittite religion. She supported her husband’s politics when he challenged Urhiteshub for his kingship, and she prayed – apparently with success – for the goddess Ishtar to restore him to health. (His feet hurt.) She may have become priestess in her childhood home because she had an uncanny ability to heal. She conducted her own correspondence with Pharaoh Ramses II, who compliment her on how well she wrote. She was the judge in a trial involving an international incident and she decided in favor of the Ugarit foreigner who proved that he Hittite captain of his ship had deliberately wrecked it. She worked tirelessly caring for the needy, listening to their problems and helping them get food and clothing. It seems likely that Puduhepa would have attracted as much attention when she appeared in public as any queen does today. Perhaps she walked with regal dignity. Probably shehad a deciveness and energy.