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Gavurkale Relief

Gavurkale (or Gavurkalesi, literally Infidel's Castle) monument probably dates to Hittite Empire period. The reliefs are carved on a cliff face on the crest of a natural hill that rises 60 meters above the floor of the narrow valley of Babayakup river. It depicts three deities. On the flattened rock face two large human figures are clearly visible. Both men have pointed hats, and shoes with curled-up toes. Both carry swords in their belts. These are two Hittite gods(?) walking towards a less visible seated figure on the left, possibly a goddess. The hats of the male figures have horns which are signs of divinity. The first figure has no beard but the second one does. The goddess also has a similar conical hat. The area around the goddess figure possibly had a script too, but nothing is left of it. The goddess figure is located slightly higher on the rock, and thus damaged by erosion.

The main study at the site was made by H. H. von der Osten in 1930. He proposed that the reliefs and the cyclopean structure around it formed an isolated hilltop monument approached by a processional way and a ramp. Since then, it has also been described as a possible royal funerary monument. Starting in 1993 Bilkent University conducted a new study of the site and its surrounding valley. It was suggested that the site was architecturally much more complex than the simple enclosure postulated by von der Osten. The scattered Hittite ceramics on the slope below the reliefs and on a single terrace opposite them indicate that the monument was not an isolated one, but was, in fact, accompanied by some type of settlement. This new data may bolster the notion that Gavurkale served as a religious or royal funerary institution during the Hittite period.


Click on the pictures for larger images.

M. Anıl M. Anıl M. Anıl
M. Anıl H. Ehringhaus K. Bittel K. Bittel
drawing by G. Perrot in 1880s drawing by K. Kohlmeyer drawing by E. Akurgal
Chamber/Temple(?) - T. Bilgin, 2009 Chamber/Temple(?) - T. Bilgin, 2009 Chamber/Temple(?) - T. Bilgin, 2009



Literature:
Ehringhaus, H. Götter, Herrscher, Inschriften, Mainz am Rhein. 2005: 11ff.
Kohlmeyer, K. "Felsbilder der hethitischen Großreichszeit", Acta Praehistorica et Archaeologica 15, 1983: 7-154 (43-48).
Kühne, H. "Gâvur Kalesi, ein Ort der Ahnenverehrung?" Fs Haas, Saarbrücken, 2001: 227-43.
Lumsden, S. "Gâvurkalesi: Investigations at a Hittite Sacred Place," Recent Developments in Hittite Archaeology and History, Winona Lake, 2002: 111-25.
von der Osten, H. H. "Gavurkalesi," Oriental Institute Communications 14, 1933: 56-90.

Image sources:
Mehmet Anıl, 2008.
Horst Ehringhaus, 2005.
Kurt Bittel, Die Hethiter, München, 1976.
George Perrot drawing from 1880's.
Kay Kohlmeyer, 1983.
Ekrem Akurgal, Anatolia, 1958.
Tayfun Bilgin, Bora Bilgin, Ertuğrul Anıl, 2009.