Lion Gate at Hattusa

Lion Gate at Hattusa



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Lions' Gate (Hattusa)

The Lions' Gate was one of six gates in Hattusa (also Ḫattuša or Hattusas) and was named for the two lion statues that flanked the gate. The gate was located on the southwest side of the city and had wooden doors, probably overlaid with bronze for additional defense, that opened into the city. Perhaps the most famous of Hattusa's defensive structures is the Lion Gate. The Lion's Gate, is one of the three most notable gates of Hattusa's Upper City fortifications, other two being King's Gate, the Sphinx Gate.

The capital of the Hittites - Hattusa - was surrounded by massive fortifications (inspect) when the Hittite civilization had a status of the Near East superpower. The walls were erected using the natural shape of the terrain or completely changing it, depending on the architectural and strategic needs. At least six gates let people enter the interior of the city. The Lions Gate is similar to the construction techniques seem in Mycenaean Greece, in particular, to another Lion Gate - the one at the entrance to the city of Mycenae.

The eye sockets of the lions were in the past lined with various decorative materials. It is worth to take a careful look at how skilfully these sculptures were carved. Particularly in the case of the right lion (inspect) that has been completely preserved, it is possible to see its beautiful mane, the fur on its chest and its head. The lion on the left (inspect) has been preserved survived in much worse condition as it has lost almost the entire head. It has recently been restored.

The Lion Gate, built in the early 14th century BCE, is located in the south-western part of the fortifications. It is flanked by two towers and the upper parts between the towers have been destroyed. The gate consists of two access openings of parabolic shape: an internal one and an external one. Once they were mounted with wooden doors that opened inwards. Most probably, the exterior doors were sheathed in bronze to increase their resistance.

According to the discovered Hittite texts, the city gates were guarded by the representatives of the city administration, controlling the movement of people to and from the capital. At night, the gates were closed, and the seal was attached, and in the morning the seal was broken in the presence of the relevant authorities. The gate, dated to the 13th century BCE, was flanked by two towers. The head of the lion on the left had already been broken away in antiquity. It has been reconstructed in 2011. The lions were put at the entrance of the city to ward off evil.

The statues of the front halves of two lions that gave the gate its customary name, were carved in huge blocks of rock on both sides of the external doors. The silhouettes of these wild animals with open jaws and wide open eyes probably played a protective function - they were to scare away evil spirits from the city. This explanation has been deduced by the researchers on the basis of the similarity of the lion theme to other such representations, known from Hittite and Mesopotamian architecture.

The Lion Gate demonstrates the details of Hittite sculpture of the 14th century period and represents excellent craftsmanship of Hittite masons. The blocks of stone that were used for its construction are connected with so-called polygonal technique. In this technique, the visible surfaces of the stones are dressed with straight sides or joints, giving the block the appearance of a polygon. It is said that in the case of the Lion Gate in Hattusa not even the thinnest sliver of paper could be put between the stones as they fit perfectly together.

The Hittites, after having their city destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, finally reconstructed and expanded it in the 14 century BCE, adding impressive architectural works, like the Lion Gate. Tudhaliya IV also strengthened the defense of the city to help protect it from enemies and invaders. One of the ways he did this was with fortifications, or large and thick walls that were difficult to break down. The walls of Hattusa were mostly made of mud-brick (inspect), which was mud and straw baked or dried into brick form. The fortifications contained watch towers to allow soldiers to see incoming forces.

See Also

References

  • "The Excavations at Hattusha - a project of the German Institute of Archaeology": Discovery Archived 2010-04-17 at the Wayback Machine.
  • Nicholas G. Blackwell. (2014). Making the Lion Gate Relief at Mycenae: Tool Marks and Foreign Influence. American Journal of Archaeology, 118(3), 451-488. doi:10.3764/aja.118.3.0451
  • Beckman, Gary (2007). "From Hattusa to Carchemish: The latest on Hittite history" (PDF). In Chavalas, Mark W. (ed.). Current Issues in the History of the Ancient Near East. Claremont, California: Regina Books. pp. 97–112. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  • Hamblin, William J. Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC: Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • Dendrinos, Dimitrios. (2017). On the Lions Gate at Mycenae: its Geometry and Roots. from academia.edu.

Contents

The greater part of the cyclopean wall in Mycenae, including the gate, was built during the second extension of the citadel that occurred in the Late Helladic period IIIB (thirteenth century BC). [5] At that time, the extended fortifications also included Grave Circle A, a burial place inside the city wall for royal families during the sixteenth century BC. This grave circle was found east of this gate, where a peribolos wall also was built. [6] After the expansion, Mycenae could be entered by two gates, a main entrance and a postern, [7] [8] while undoubtedly, the most extensive feature was the remodeling of the main entrance to the citadel, now known as the Lion Gate, in the northwestern side built circa 1250 BC. [9]

The gate was approached by a natural, partly engineered ramp on a northwest-southeast axis. The eastern side of the approach is flanked by the steep smooth slope of the earlier enceinte. This was embellished with a new facade of conglomerate. On the western side a rectangular bastion was erected, 14.80 m (49 ft) long and 7.23 m (24 ft) wide, built in pseudo-ashlar style of enormous blocks of conglomerate. The term "Cyclopean" has been applied to the style to imply that the ancient structures had been built by the legendary race of giants whose culture was presumed to have preceded that of the Classical Greeks, as described in their myths. Between the wall and the bastion, the approach narrows to a small open courtyard measuring 15 m × 7.23 m (49 ft × 24 ft), possibly serving to limit the numbers of potential attackers on the gate. The bastion on the right side of the gate facilitated defensive actions against the right hand side of attackers, which would be vulnerable, as normally the attackers would carry their shields on their left arms. At the end of the approach stands the gate. [8]

The gate is a massive and imposing construction, standing 3.10 m (10 ft) wide and 2.95 m (10 ft) high at the threshold. It narrows as it rises, measuring 2.78 m (9 ft) below the lintel. The opening was closed by a double door mortised to a vertical beam that acted as a pivot around which the door revolved. [7]

The gate consists of two great monoliths capped with a huge lintel that measures 4.5×2.0×0.8 m (15×7×3 ft). Above the lintel, the masonry courses form a corbelled arch, leaving an opening that lightens the weight carried by the lintel. This relieving triangle is a great limestone slab on which two confronted lionesses, carved in high relief, stand on either sides of a central pillar. The heads of the animals were fashioned separately and are missing, but their necks are present. [3] The pillar, specifically, is a Minoan-type column that is located on top of an altar-like platform upon which the lionesses rest their front feet. [9]

Early imagery of a deity that was found at Knossos presents a goddess flanked clearly by two lionesses, establishing a continuity in religious imagery when later, the deity is represented abstractly by a column. It clearly identifies the species of feline, because of the characteristic tuft at the end of the tail, not present in any other feline species.

The imposing gate of the citadel with the representation of the lionesses was an emblem of the Mycenaean kings and a symbol of their power to both subjects and foreigners. [9] It also has been argued that the lionesses are a symbol of the goddess Hera. [10]

This gate may be compared to the gates of the Hittite Bronze Age citadel of Hattusa, in Asia Minor. [9] [11] Since the heads of the animals were of a different material from their bodies and originally were fashioned to look toward those approaching below, [12] a number of scholars have speculated that these might have been composite beasts, probably sphinxes, in the typical Middle Eastern tradition. [3]

On the top of the pillar is a row of four discs, apparently representing rafters supporting a further piece of sculpture that has since been lost. [13] Another view proposes: above the head of the column and what is probably a slab supporting an architrave is a row of discs (ends of transverse beams) and another slab the same size as the slab on top of the column. The beams and the block above them represent a more extended superstructure shortened here because of the diminishing space in the triangle. [14] Thus, this author proposes that no further piece of sculpture has been lost.

The design of the gate had precedents in other surviving artworks of the time a similar design was depicted on fifteenth-century BC Minoan seals and a gem found at Mycenae. On a pithos from Knossos, the same imagery exists depicting a goddess flanked by two lionesses. Many other pieces of Mycenaean artwork share the same basic motif of two opposed animals separated by a vertical divider, such as two lambs facing a column and two sphinxes facing a sacred tree representing a deity. [13] The architectural design in the gate relief may reflect an entrance of a type characterized by a central support, commonly a single column. More specifically, the gate relief may allude to the propylon (structure forming the entrance) that provides the main direct access to the palace. The lions acted as guardians to the entrance of the palace. If so, the symbol of a sanctified palace entrance would have appeared above the gate of the fortifications: a double blessing. [14]

Beyond the gate and inside the citadel was a covered court with a small chamber, which probably functioned as a guard post. On the right, adjacent to the wall, was a building that has been identified as a granary because of the pithoi found there containing carbonized wheat. [9]

The gate stood in full view of visitors to Mycenae for centuries. It was mentioned by the ancient geographer Pausanias in the second century AD. [15] The first correct identification of the gate in modern literature was during a survey conducted by Francesco Grimani, commissioned by the Provveditore Generale of the Kingdom of the Morea in 1700, [16] who used Pausanias's description of the gate to identify the ruins of Mycenae. [17] [18] [19]

In 1840, the Greek Archaeological Society undertook the initial clearing of the site from debris and soil that had accumulated to bury it, and in 1876 Heinrich Schliemann, guided by Pausanias's accounts, excavated the area south of the gate. [15]


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Abandoning Hattusa

The Hittite Empire began its decline around the middle of the 13th century BC, mainly due to the rise of their eastern neighbors, the Assyrians. Moreover, raids by hostile forces, such as the Sea Peoples and the Kaska further weakened the Hittite Empire, finally resulting in its collapse during the first half of the 12th century BC. In 1190 BC, the Kaskas managed to capture Hattusa, which they then sacked and burned.

Hattusa was abandoned for the next 400 hundred years, and then was resettled by the Phrygians. The site continued to exist as a settlement during the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine periods, though its years of glory were already long behind it.

In the meantime, the Hittites faded, and eventually disappeared completely, with the exception of a few references in the Bible and some documents from Egypt. It was only during the 19th century, when excavations began to be carried out in Boğazkale, that the Hittites and their capital, Hattusa, were re-discovered by the modern world.

Illustration of the ancient city of Hattusa and its soldiers. ( Lunstream /Adobe Stock)

Top Image: Sphinx Gate, Hattusa. Source: marketanovakova /Adobe Stock

Hattusa is one of the fascinating ancient sites that you can visit with Ancient Origins Tours on the exclusive expert led tour to Göbekli Tepe and Turkey in September 2020.


Hattusa (Boğazkale)

Hattusa: ancient capital of the Hittite Empire.

History

Photos

Hattusa, Statuette of a warrior

Hattusa, Sculpture of a bull

Hattusa, Epic of Gilgamesh

Hattusa, Deeds of Šuppililiuma

Hattusa, Hittite laws about personal damage

Hattusa, Letter from the Hittite queen Puduhepa to the Egyptian queen Nefertari

Hattusa, Letter of king Hattusilis III to king Kadashman-Enlil II of Babylonia

Hattusa, Treaty between king Tudhaliya IV and king Karunta of Tarhuntašša


Contents

The landscape surrounding the city included rich agricultural fields and hill lands for pasture as well as woods. Smaller woods are still found outside the city, but in ancient times, they were far more widespread. This meant the inhabitants had an excellent supply of timber when building their houses and other structures. The fields provided the people with a subsistence crop of wheat, barley and lentils. Flax was also harvested, but their primary source for clothing was sheep wool. They also hunted deer in the forest, but this was probably only a luxury reserved for the nobility. Domestic animals provided meat.

There were several other settlements in the vicinity, such as the rock shrine at Yazılıkaya and the town at Alacahöyük. Since the rivers in the area are unsuitable for major ships, all transport to and from Hattusa had to go by land.

Before 2000 BC, the apparently indigenous Hattian people established a settlement on sites that had been occupied even earlier and referred to the site as Hattush. The Hattians built their initial settlement on the high ridge of Büyükkale. [2] The earliest traces of settlement on the site are from the sixth millennium BC. In the 19th and 18th centuries BC, merchants from Assur in Assyria established a trading post there, setting up in their own separate quarter of the city. The center of their trade network was located in Kanesh (Neša) (modern Kültepe). Business dealings required record-keeping: the trade network from Assur introduced writing to Hattusa, in the form of cuneiform.

A carbonized layer apparent in excavations attests to the burning and ruin of the city of Hattusa around 1700 BC. The responsible party appears to have been King Anitta from Kussara, who took credit for the act and erected an inscribed curse for good measure:

Whoever after me becomes king resettles Hattusas, let the Stormgod of the Sky strike him! [3]

Only a generation later, a Hittite-speaking king chose the site as his residence and capital. The Hittite language had been gaining speakers at the expense of Hattic for some time. The Hattic Hattush now became the Hittite Hattusa, and the king took the name of Hattusili, the "one from Hattusa". Hattusili marked the beginning of a non-Hattic-speaking "Hittite" state and of a royal line of Hittite Great Kings, 27 of whom are now known by name.

After the Kaskians arrived to the kingdom's north, they twice attacked the city to the point where the kings had to move the royal seat to another city. Under Tudhaliya I, the Hittites moved north to Sapinuwa, returning later. Under Muwatalli II, they moved south to Tarhuntassa but assigned Hattusili III as governor over Hattusa. Mursili III returned the seat to Hattusa, where the kings remained until the end of the Hittite kingdom in the 12th century BC.

At its peak, the city covered 1.8 km² and comprised an inner and outer portion, both surrounded by a massive and still visible course of walls erected during the reign of Suppiluliuma I (circa 1344–1322 BC (short chronology)). The inner city covered an area of some 0.8 km² and was occupied by a citadel with large administrative buildings and temples. The royal residence, or acropolis, was built on a high ridge now known as Büyükkale (Great Fortress). [4] The city displayed over 6 km of walls, with inner and outer skins around 3 m of thick and 2 m of space between them, adding 8 m of the total thickness. [5]

To the south lay an outer city of about 1 km 2 , with elaborate gateways decorated with reliefs showing warriors, lions, and sphinxes. Four temples were located here, each set around a porticoed courtyard, together with secular buildings and residential structures. Outside the walls are cemeteries, most of which contain cremation burials. Modern estimates put the population of the city between 40,000 and 50,000 at the peak in the early period, the inner city housed a third of that number. The dwelling houses that were built with timber and mud bricks have vanished from the site, leaving only the stone-built walls of temples and palaces.

The city was destroyed, together with the Hittite state itself, around 1200 BC, as part of the Bronze Age collapse. Excavations suggest that Hattusa was gradually abandoned over a period of several decades as the Hittite empire disintegrated. [6] The site was subsequently abandoned until 800 BC, when a modest Phrygian settlement appeared in the area.

In 1833, the French archaeologist Charles Texier (1802–1871) was sent on an exploratory mission to Turkey, where in 1834 he discovered ruins of the ancient Hittite capital of Hattusa. [7] Ernest Chantre opened some trial trenches at the village then called Boğazköy, in 1893–94. [8] Since 1906, the German Oriental Society has been excavating at Hattusa (with breaks during the two World Wars and the Depression, 1913–31 and 1940–51). Archaeological work is still carried out by the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut). Hugo Winckler and Theodore Makridi Bey conducted the first excavations in 1906, 1907, and 1911–13, which were resumed in 1931 under Kurt Bittel, followed by Peter Neve (site director 1963, general director 1978–94). [9]

Cuneiform royal archives Edit

One of the most important discoveries at the site has been the cuneiform royal archives of clay tablets, known as the Bogazköy Archive, consisting of official correspondence and contracts, as well as legal codes, procedures for cult ceremony, oracular prophecies and literature of the ancient Near East. One particularly important tablet, currently on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, details the terms of a peace settlement reached years after the Battle of Kadesh between the Hittites and the Egyptians under Ramesses II, in 1259 or 1258 BC. A copy is on display in the United Nations in New York City as an example of the earliest known international peace treaties.

Although the 30,000 or so clay tablets recovered from Hattusa form the main corpus of Hittite literature, archives have since appeared at other centers in Anatolia, such as Tabigga (Maşat Höyük) and Sapinuwa (Ortaköy). They are now divided between the archaeological museums of Ankara and Istanbul.

A pair of sphinxes found at the southern gate in Hattusa were taken for restoration to Germany in 1917. The better-preserved was returned to Turkey in 1924 and placed on display in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, but the other remained in Germany where it was on display at the Pergamon Museum from 1934, [10] despite numerous requests for its return.

In 2011, threats by Turkish Ministry of Culture to impose restrictions on German archaeologists working in Turkey finally persuaded Germany to return the sphinx, and it was moved to the Boğazköy Museum outside the Hattusa ruins, along with the Istanbul sphinx [11] – reuniting the pair near their original location.


Sphinx Gate (Hattusa)

The Sphinx Gate in Hattusa (the capital of the Hittite Empire in the Late Bronze Age) was part of the city's fortifications. The Sphinx's Gate, is one of the three most notable gates of Hattusa's Upper City fortifications, other two being King's Gate, the Lions' Gate.

The inner doorway was adorned with sphinxes that were almost three dimensional, not only the front of their bodies looking towards the city but also with high wings on the sides and long upright tails. Only one original Sphinx is still in place while two others are kept in the local museum. All four door jambs of the gate bore representations of Sphinxes.

One of the images most commonly associated with Hittites is the sphinx, combining a lion's body with an eagle's wings and a human head and chest. At Hattusa as at several other prominent Hittite Cities, they were placed on either side of the main entrance.

Having been badly damaged by fire in ancient times, they had to be dismantled for restoration in 1907. A pair of sphinxes found at the southern gate in Hattusa were taken for restoration to Germany in 1917. The better-preserved was returned to Turkey in 1924 and placed on display in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, but the other remained in Germany where it was on display at the Pergamon Museum from 1934,[9] despite numerous requests for its return.

In 1915, German archaeologists discovered a sculpture with a lion’s body and a human head at the Sphinx Gate of the Yerkapı rampart in the ruins of the ancient Hittite capital Hattuşa in central Turkey they brought the artifact to Germany for restoration, along with another sphinx.

In total four sphinxes were unearthed during excavations at Yerkapı. One of them is the one that was returned, the other one is in Yerkapı but the majority of it has been lost. The other sphinx is in Istanbul and we believe that it will be taken to Hattuşa. The last sphinx is totally lost, even its pieces do not exist.


The Hittites - Hidden History of Hattusa

Sometimes they are referred to as the ancestors of the Canaanites, and the founders of Jerusalem… but were they? The Hittites were considered a mighty Bronze Age Civilization, with their capital at Hattusa (modern-day Bogazkale in Turkey). The Hittites are most famous for their peace treaty with Egypt after the Battle of Kadesh (1259 / 1258 BC). By the time the Hittites – of Indo-European descent – moved into the region during the 17th and 18th centuries BC, Hattusa had already existed since 2000 BC and was beset by the Hatti people. At its zenith, some 40 000 to 50 000 people lived in the city and the walls stretched for 6.5 kilometers – the largest Bronze Age settlement. The Hittites established an ancestry of 28 Hittite kings, and the empire reached from the Black Sea in the north, the whole of Anatolia, including the Mediterranean coast, down the Levant including parts of modern Syria. It fell at the end of the Bronze Age (circa 1200 BC).

The ruins of Hattusa were discovered in 1833. Evidence is clear that the city was destroyed by fire, but archaeologists are perplexed that the fire was so violent it made limestone explode in fragments and other cities were also destroyed at the same time. Evidence of cultures in the Near East, including Palestine, fortresses in Syria, and even cities in the Nile Delta that were also incinerated may point to ‘fire from heaven’ or a meteor strike.

Marco M. Vigato, an independent researcher into ancient mysteries and megalithic civilizations, takes us on a tour of Hattusa, enhanced by his own photographs. The Hittites were known as a people of a thousand gods, and Marco explores the Great Temple complex which bears an uncanny resemblance to Inca masonry and the great Sun Temple of Qorikancha in ancient Cuzco. Another enigmatic feature of the temple which one also finds almost everywhere amidst the ancient ruins of Hattusa, is a large number of perfectly circular drill-holes cut deep into the rock. There is also a large green-stone boulder (probably nephrite or jadeite) which has been the subject of much speculation. The city gates are especially remarkable as they show a polygonal style of masonry not unlike that of Mycenaean Bronze Age walls. The most famous gates are the “Gate of the Lions” and the “Gate of the King”, which took their name after the bas-reliefs decorating the frames. He discusses the enigmatic staircase leading up the Yerkati rampart, the so-called “Hieroglyph chamber” and many other architectural features of this once-great city.

Marco M Vigato, a native of Italy, lives in Mexico City and has traveled extensively across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, South-East Asia, North and South America. He is also a passionate photographer, dedicated to documenting the evidence of ancient advanced civilizations and sacred sites around the world. Much of his recent research has focused on the megalithic remains of ancient Mexico and Mesoamerica, leading him to the discovery of several little-known sites showing evidence of advanced engineering and architecture in the central Mexican highlands. He is currently working on a more comprehensive study of the origins and development of megalithic civilizations around the world, which will focus on cultural and historical aspects, as well as on the relationship of ancient megalithic sites with sacred geometry, astronomy, and geodesy. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. and M.Sc. in Finance from Bocconi University.

Who were the Hittites that the Bible speaks of?

Sometimes they are referred to as the ancestors of the Canaanites, and the founders of Jerusalem… but were they? The Hittites were considered a mighty Bronze Age Civilization, with their capital at Hattusa (modern-day Bogazkale in Turkey). The Hittites are most famous for their peace treaty with Egypt after the Battle of Kadesh (1259 / 1258 BC). By the time the Hittites – of Indo-European descent – moved into the region during the 17th and 18th centuries BC, Hattusa had already existed since 2000 BC and was beset by the Hatti people. At its zenith, some 40 000 to 50 000 people lived in the city and the walls stretched for 6.5 kilometers – the largest Bronze Age settlement. The Hittites established an ancestry of 28 Hittite kings, and the empire reached from the Black Sea in the north, the whole of Anatolia, including the Mediterranean coast, down the Levant including parts of modern Syria. It fell at the end of the Bronze Age (circa 1200 BC).

The ruins of Hattusa were discovered in 1833. Evidence is clear that the city was destroyed by fire, but archaeologists are perplexed that the fire was so violent it made limestone explode in fragments and other cities were also destroyed at the same time. Evidence of cultures in the Near East, including Palestine, fortresses in Syria, and even cities in the Nile Delta that were also incinerated may point to ‘fire from heaven’ or a meteor strike.

Marco M. Vigato, an independent researcher into ancient mysteries and megalithic civilizations, takes us on a tour of Hattusa, enhanced by his own photographs. The Hittites were known as a people of a thousand gods, and Marco explores the Great Temple complex which bears an uncanny resemblance to Inca masonry and the great Sun Temple of Qorikancha in ancient Cuzco. Another enigmatic feature of the temple which one also finds almost everywhere amidst the ancient ruins of Hattusa, is a large number of perfectly circular drill-holes cut deep into the rock. There is also a large green-stone boulder (probably nephrite or jadeite) which has been the subject of much speculation. The city gates are especially remarkable as they show a polygonal style of masonry not unlike that of Mycenaean Bronze Age walls. The most famous gates are the “Gate of the Lions” and the “Gate of the King”, which took their name after the bas-reliefs decorating the frames. He discusses the enigmatic staircase leading up the Yerkati rampart, the so-called “Hieroglyph chamber” and many other architectural features of this once-great city.


Hattusa’s Structures

What is more certain is that the Hittites became a powerful force in the region, built up an empire, and designated Hattusa as their imperial capital. It was during this period of time that monumental buildings were constructed in Hattusa, the remains of which can still be seen today. For example, the city was found to have been defended by a monumental wall that was more than 8km (4.97 miles) in length. Additionally, the upper city was further fortified by a double wall with more than a hundred towers.

This wall is known to have five gates, including the famous Lion Gate and Sphinx Gate. Apart from these defensive structures, many temples have also been uncovered in Hattusa. The best preserved of these is the Great Temple, which is located in the lower city, and dates to the 13th century BC.

In 2016, archaeologists also discovered a secret 2,300-year-old tunnel at Hattusa. Researchers said they had “previously found a cuneiform tablet here, featuring a king who explains to priests what to do during ceremonies. This secret tunnel might have had a sacred function.”

Tunnel in old Hittite capital Hattusa, Turkey. ( Matyas Rehak /Adobe Stock)

Another interesting feature at Hattusa is the mysterious large green rock which locals loving refer to as the “wish stone.” The huge rock is believed to be made of serpentine or nephrite, meaning it is not a common stone found in the area. No one is sure what exactly it was used for or how it came to be in Hattusa.

Greenstone cube in Hattusa, ancient Hittite capital. ( Selcuk /Adobe Stock)


Lion Gate at Hattusa - History

Lion Gate at Mycenae
c. 1250 BCE

The Lion Gate consists of four megalithic blocks of stone arranged around an open space. At the base is a threshold to the sides of which stand two upright stones or jambs. Across the top of the jambs is an enormous lintel believed to weigh around twenty tons.

On top the lintel sits a triangular block of stone some 27.5 inches thick which has been carved in relief, on the outward-facing surface, two rampant lions (lionesses) with their forepaws standing on an altar upon which is mounted a tapering Minoan-style column. The lionesses may originally have had bronze heads (now missing)


The Lion Gate, Mycenae

The triangular section over the lintel is formed using a system of construction called corbeling. The stones are arranged in a series of layers, or courses, so that each level projects over the one below it. When the stones meet at the top, they are in place by a keystone to create an arch. The empty triangular space is called a relieving triangle because it lightens the weight of stone resting on the lintel. In the case of the Lion Gate, the relieving triangle has been filled with a relief sculpture.

The gate itself and the walls to either side (which are almost 20 feet thick) are constructed of dressed stone layed in regular courses. This is called ashlar masonry. The massive stones out of which the Lion Gate and the walls of Mycenae have been constructed are sometimes also called Cyclopean. The Cyclops were a mythical race of Giants. The later Greeks believed that only the Cyclops would have been strong enough to lift the blocks of stone found at Mycenaean sites.


Watch the video: Opening Up to the Lions Gate Portal 2021: The Galactics u0026 Suzanne Lie