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Alacahöyük

Alacahöyük (also Alaca Höyük) is located 36 km to the northeast of the Hattusa (Boğazköy) in north central Turkey in the Çorum province. Although brief excavations were carried out in 1893-94 and 1907, proper excavations started in 1935 by the Turkish Historical Association under Remzi Oğuz Arık, and after 1936 continued under Hamit Zübeyr Koşay intermittently until 1970. More recently, between 1997 and 2018 the work at the site was conducted by a team from Ankara University under Aykut Çınaroğlu.

Excavations reveal that the site must have been an important settlement already in pre-Hittite times. Among the most important finds of the location are the richly decorated pre-Hittite period royal tombs dating from the 3rd millennium BCE. Alacahöyük's Hittite period name remains undetermined, but most scholars suspect it to be Arinna, the city of the Hittite Sun-Goddess, and a few others equate it with Zippalanda. Both cities are known from Hittite texts as major cult centers in close proximity to Hattusa.

Almost all of the standing stone monuments like sphinxes are orthostats are from the Hittite period. The town walls with their carved orthostats have inner and outer gateways with ramps for archers. The southern outer monumental gateway was set between two towers and guarded by two great sphinxes. In the doorjambs are two 13 foot high monoliths which were carved to create 7 foot high sphinxes. Inside this Sphinx Gate was a large Hittite building complex that is still being investigated. The bases of the two towers by the Sphinx Gate are decorated with several orthostats. Although previously earlier dates were suggested, the gate complex probably dates to the 13th century BCE. The sphinxes and the orthostats that were found in situ have been replaced with replicas and moved to the Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara. Some of the orthostat that were found fallen, originally formed a second row on the gate walls above the current line of orthostats. Some other orthostats and statue fragments remain at the site.

Click on the pictures for larger images.


Genel görünüm
Satellite view of Alacahöyük - Google Earth, 2017 A 3D restoration of the Hittite period city, Alacahöyük Museum - T. Bilgin, 2018 Hitit period architectural plan - H. Koşay, 1966 View of Alacahöyük from the north - T. Bilgin, 2018

The South Gate (Sphinx Gate)
Sphinx Gate during the early excavations- Th. Makridi, 1908 Sphinx Gate during the early excavations Sphinx Gate - B. Bilgin, 1999 Sphinx Gate - E. Anıl, 2011 View of the Sphinx Gate from the north - T. Bilgin, 2006 Detail of the building blocks - T. Bilgin, 2018 West wing of the Sphinx Gate - E. Anıl, 2011 West wing of the Sphinx Gate - E. Anıl, 2011 The Sphinx Gate - C. Süer, 2011 The west wing sphinx - C. Süer, 2011 The east wing sphinx - C. Süer, 2011 Double headed eagle relief - E. Anıl, 2011 East wing of the Sphinx Gate - C. Süer, 2011 East wing of the Sphinx Gate - E. Anıl, 2011 East wing of the Sphinx Gate - E. Anıl, 2011

South Gate Orthostats, Anatolian Civilizations Museum
AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Musician and dog trainer(?) - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Sword swallowing and ladder climbing acrobats - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Ceremony officials - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Sacrificial animals - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 The king and queen before an altar - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 The goddess and the ceremony officials - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Ceremony officials - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Ceremony officials - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Ceremony officials - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Ceremony officials, and the king and queen before a seated goddess - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020
Wild animals - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Wild animals and a hunter - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Lion hunt - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Charging bull The king before the seated Storm-god - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020

Portal lions
Left wing lion - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Left wing lion and a calf under its paw - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Left wing lion and a calf under its paw - AMM, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020 Right wing lion - E. Anıl, 2011

Other orthostat and statue fragments
C. Süer, 2011 E. Anıl, 2011 E. Anıl, 2011 E. Anıl, 2011 C. Süer, 2011

The West Gate and the postern tunnel
Foundations of the west gate - C. Süer, 2011 The western entrance of the postern tunnel - C. Süer, 2011 Postern tunnel - C. Süer, 2011 Postern tunnel - T. Bilgin, 2006 The eastern entrance of the postern tunnel - T. Bilgin, 2006

The royal tombs of the third millennium BCE
The royal tombs in the foreground prior to restorations - T. Bilgin, 2006 The royal tombs after the restorations - C. Süer, 2011 A royal tomb restoration - C. Süer, 2011 A royal tomb restoration - C. Süer, 2011 A royal tomb restoration - C. Süer, 2011 A royal tomb restoration, Çorum Museum - T. Bilgin, 2006


Alacahöyük Hittite Dam
Also known as Gölpınar Dam, it is probably one of over 10 dams that were built by Tudhaliya IV around 1240 BCE as it is stated in the Hittite documents. The dam was restored in 2002 and holds about 15,000 cubic meters of water. The Alacahöyük village still uses it for irrigation. A stele base and a fragment of a round-top stele with hieroglyphic inscription which mentions the goddess Hebat have been found during the cleanup process.


T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 T. Bilgin, 2006 A. and B. Dinçol, 2008



Religious standards from the royal tombs
Some of the most important findings of Alacahöyük were the cult objects found in the royal tombs of pre-Hittite times from the late 3rd millennium BCE. They are in the shape of sun discs or animals that probably represented gods. They are often found as grave gifts and must have been carried in funeral processions as religious symbols. Many of these items are on display in the Anatolian Civilization Museum in Ankara. A few of the items below come from surrounding regions near Alacahöyük.


T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 K. Bittel, 1976 T. Bilgin, 2014 N. Kişnişçi, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 T. Bilgin, 2014 N. Kişnişçi, 2007 T. Bilgin, 2014 from Horoztepe, in MMA, New York - T. Bilgin, 2010 in MMA, New York - T. Bilgin, 2010 from Boğazköy - K. Bittel, 1976 from Horoztepe Istanbul - T. Bilgin, 2012 G. Ortiz Collection, Geneva MMA, New York - K. Bittel, 1976 from Yozgat - K. Bittel, 1976 British Museum - T. Bilgin, 2007 Private collection from Kalınkaya, Çorum - Yıldırım and Zimmerman, 2006 from Horoztepe(?) T. Bilgin, 2014 N. Kişnişçi, 2007



Literature:
Alexander, R. L. "A Great Queen on the Sphinx Piers at Alaca Hüyük," Anatolian Studies 39, 1989: 151–58.
Baltacıoğlu H., "Four reliefs from Alacahöyük," Anatolia and its Neighbors. Studies in Honor of Nimet Özgüç, 1993: 55–60.
Bittel, K. Die Hethiter, Berlin, 1976.
Börker-Klähn, J. and U. Krafzik. "Zur Bedeutung der Aufsätze aus Alaca Höyük" WO 17, 1986: 47–60
Çınaroğlu, A., E. Genç, D. Çelik. Alaca Höyük Kazıları, Kazı Sonucları Toplantısı 21–36, 1999–2014.
Güterbock, H.G. "Notes on Some Hittite Monuments: The Sphinx Gate of Hüyük, near Alaca," Anatolian Studies6, 1956: 53–56.
Koşay, H. Z. Alaca Höyük Kazısı / Les Fouilles d'Alaca Höyük, 1937-1939, Ankara: TTK Seri V no 3, 1951.
Koşay, H. Z. and M. Akok. Alaca Höyük Kazısı / Ausgrabungen von Alaca Höyük, 1940-1948, Ankara: TTK V no 6, 1966.
Koşay, H. Z. and M. Akok. Alaca Höyük Kazısı / Alaca Höyük Excavations, 1963-1967, Ankara: TTK Seri V no 28, 1973.
Macridy-Bey, Th. La Porte des Sphinx à Eyuk, (MVAG 13.3), Berlin, 1908.
Mellink, M. J. "Observations on the Sculptures of Alaca Höyük," Anadolu XIV, 1970:15–27.
Orthmann, W. "Zu den Standarten aus Alaca Höyük," Istanbuler Mitteilungen 17, 1967: 34–54.
Taracha, P. "The Iconographie Program of the Sculptures of Alacahöyük," JANER 11, 2011: 132-47.
Özgüç, T. "Alacahöyük. Ein Kultort im Kerngebiert des Reiches," Die Hethiter. Das Volk der 1000 Götter. 2002: 172–75.
Ünal, A., "Weitere Deutungsversuche der Orthostatenreliefs am Sphinxtor von Alaca Höyük aus philologischer Sicht," Acts of the
      IIIrd International Congress of Hittitology,
1998: 593–604.

Image sources:
Google Earth, 2017.
Tayfun Bilgin, 2006–2018.
Hamit Zübeyr Koşay, 1966.
Bora Bilgin, 1999.
Cüneyt Süer, 2011.
Ertuğrul Anıl, 2011.
Anatolian Civilizations Museum, sanalmuze.gov.tr, 2020.
Ali and Belkıs Dinçol, "Neue hieroglyphische Dokumente aus Alaca Höyük", Coll An VII, 2008: 175.
Kurt Bittel, 1976.
Naci Kişnişçi 2007 - gunce.marsyas.gen.tr
T. Yıldırım and T. Zimmerman, "News from the Hatti Heartland," Antiquity Vol 80 No 309, September 2006.