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Location and History of Alacahoyuk

Alacahoyuk is located 160 km from Ankara, 45 km east of Çorum, Southwest of Boğazköy-Hatuşa. Alacahoyuk was discovered by W. Hamilton in 1835. The first excavations in Alacahöyük were carried out in 1907 by Theodor Makridi on behalf of the Istanbul Museums. After the founding of the Turkish Republic of Turkey with Atatürk’s directives, here started the first Turkish History Institution organized systematic excavations began in 1935 in Alacahöyük. 4 civilizations have been identified in Alacahöyük, which proves that this area was a very important art and cult center in the old Bronze and Hittite era.


Brief Information about Hittites

Principalities in Anatolia were: Neşa (Kaneş), Hattuş, Mama, Puruşhanda, Kuşşara and Zalpa in the age of Assyrian Trade Colonies. In the time of Pithana and his son Anitta stated in the written documents, a central state was established in Anatolia. Anitta Neşa took the title of the great king by capturing Zalpa and Hattuş. Kuşarsara Labarnaş made Hattuş the capital city and named the city Hattuşa, Hattuşuli, which means ‘’From Hattuşa’’, so that the Hittite State was officially established.

Map of Hittite Empire

The first King of the Hittite Empire was Tuthaliya the second. One of the most important kings after Tuthaliya was Mutavalli. During the period of the ruling, domination was established in Anatolia and then there were expeditions to Syria.

The Battle of Kadesh with Egypt also took place in this period (1274 BC). The Treaty of Kadesh, signed in 1269 BC, was the first written treaty in history. A copy of the attachment tablet is on display at the entrance of the United Nations Security Council in New York. After the wear of the Kadesh War, the Empire became unstable and started to decline over time. In 1200 BC, the Hittite Empire was destroyed by the Kaskians from the Black Sea mountains.

First Layer of Excavations in Alacahöyük: 5000 BC – 2600 BC

This layer is represented by Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk-Ottoman periods. On the first cultural floor, all sides of the mound were occupied in the Late Phrygian era. On this layer, settlements consisting of small houses were found.

Sphinx Gate in Alacahoyuk

Second Layer of Excavations in Alacahöyük: 2500 BC – 2100 BC

The temple consisting large structures, private houses, streets, large small water channels, city walls, sphinxes were discovered in this layer. The Sphinx Gate, which was built with andesite blocks on the limestone foundation, is 10 meters wide and is the monumental passage to the great temple.

Third Layer of Excavations in Alacahöyük: 2000 BC – 1200 BC

Graves in Alacahoyuk

This layer dates back to the Ancient Bronze Age. Alacahöyük Ancient Bronze Age graveyards, which contributed to the enlightenment of the indigenous Hatti Civilization, which is the leading culture of the Hittite history, are the most important finds of this age. Intramural graves were collected in a specially reserved area. Rectangular tombs, built with stones on all four sides, were covered with wooden beams, cattle heads and legs which probably belong to sacrificed animals were found on their roofs. Expensive gifts such as gold, silver, electrum, copper, bronze, iron and precious stones show that they belong to the dynasty.

Fourth Layer of Excavations in Alacahöyük 5000 BC – 2600 BC

This layer hosts a late Paleolithic Age civilization, which is the first type of civilizations built on the mother earth.

Alacahoyuk Dagger

Sphinx Gate

The Sphinx Gate, which was built with andesite blocks on the limestone foundation, is 10 meters wide. The Sphinx Gate is the monumental entrance of the great temple to which it is connected by a road. On both sides of the entrance, the outer faces of the big slab blocks are decorated with sphinx heads. Standing on the pedestal in the left tower, the bull symbolizes the “Storm God of the Skies”. In the next block, in front of the altar, the sacrifice animals are presented by the figures of the goats and rams, with the staircase and the dagger.

Sphinx Gate and Reliefs in Alacahoyuk.jpg

In the right corner blocks, reliefs showing a goddess sitting on her throne and officers who worshiped him are seated in their places. The celebration of a cult festival was pictured in the Alacahoyuk “Sphinx Door” reliefs.

Alacahöyük King Tombs

The monumental sphinxes, which has been welcoming Alacahöyük visitors for thousands of years, were built of andesite blocks on a limestone foundation. Jamb blocks on both sides of the Sphinx Door were carved in the appearance of sphinx. The inner and outer faces of these two towers with sphinxes are decorated with embossed orthostats.

King Graves in Alacahoyuk

The bull figure seen in the reliefs in the west tower symbolizes the “Storm God of the Skies”. The heads and legs of the cattle were placed in these 13 tombs, which are thought to belong to the princes and princesses and dated to the Ancient Bronze Age, ornaments, sun courses, deer and bull sculptures, war tools such as wedge, sword, ax, terracotta, stone, gold, Artifacts and ornaments made of silver, bronze, copper and electrons were found.

Hittite Dam

Hittite Dam in Alacahoyuk

One of the most interesting findings is the Hittite Dam. During the excavations carried out in 1997, it was understood that a dam was built to irrigate agricultural land and provide drinking water to the city established. It is mentioned in many parts of the cuneiform writings that Tuthaliya the fourth built many dams.

Alacahöyük Museum

The first local museum in Alacahöyük was opened in 1940. The museum, which was moved to its building nearby the ruins in 1982 and it was reorganized in 2011 into it’s current state. The works unearthed during the Alacahöyük excavations that started in 1935 are exhibited in the halls where the names of the excavation leader names the halls of the museum.

Alacahoyuk Museum

The location and importance of Alacahöyük excavations in Turkish archeology are explained on the wall panels in the Hamit Zübeyr KOŞAY hall. In the showcase where the excavation history is explained, some excavation materials and scientific publications belonging to the Alacahöyük excavation are exhibited. The Paleolithic, Ancient Bronze Age and Hittite period artifacts obtained from Alacahöyük excavation are exhibited in the Remzi Oğuz ARIK hall, while the Hittite and Phrygian artifacts are exhibited in the Mahmut AKOK hall.

Tour Guide to Alacahöyük

Hasan was kind enough to take me to Alacahoyuk, and he gave me a wonderful tour over there. I hope you can have a great day in Alacahoyuk, Turkey.

Curtis Smith

Lecturer in University of Missouri, Columbia, MO Turkey Expert and Archeology Enthusiast

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