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Muwatalli Relief

Muwatalli Relief is near the old Misis-Ceyhan road by Sirkeli village, at a bend of the Ceyhan River southwest of the Yılanlıkale ruins. The relief is carved on a rock wall facing the river about 5 m. above the water level. The excavations were carried out at the mound behind the relief, initially by J. Garstang in 1936-38 as part of the Neilson Expedition of the University of Liverpool, then in the 1990s and 2006 by German and Austrian teams, and since 2011 jointly by teams from the University of Bern and Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University. Studies revealed that the site was settled from Chalcolitic to Hellenistic periods including the Hittite periods. The relief shows a Hittite king with a long robe. The inscription to the right of the relief has been read as "Muwatalli, Great King, the Hero, son of Mursili, Great King, the Hero." This refers to Mursili II's son Muwatalli II who reigned in the first half of the 13th century BCE, and that makes the monument the oldest securely dated Hittite rock-relief currently known. Muwatalli II is known to have moved the capital of the Hittite state from Hattusa to Tarhuntassa, location of which is unknown but believed to be somewhere in southern Anatolia. The site of Sirkeli Höyük must have been important as a crossing point on Ceyhan River, leading to the road to Syria where Muwatalli II clashed with Rameses II of Egypt in the famous battle of Kadesh.

The rock platform above the relief has two separated rock blocks with deep cracks between them. Two recesses are to be found at the rear end of the surface, probably related to libation ceremonies. These pits were part of a larger cultic installation which also included a building to the west of the rock reliefs.

In 1994 traces of another rock-relief was noticed just a few meters to the right of the Muwatalli relief, though far less well preserved. It may have been chiseled out intentionally during antiquity. Results of a detailed 3D scan of this rock surface carried out in 2017 suggested that the remnants of the chiseled off inscription probably names Mursili (III), son of Muwatalli (II). This supports the initial suspicion of scholars that the relief was subject to a damnatio memoriae during the reign of Hattusili III (or his successors) who usurped the throne from Mursili III.

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Muwatalli Relief
M. Novak, Sirkeli Projekt, 2006 B. Bilgin, 2019 T. Bilgin, 2019 Sirkeli Projekt K. Bittel, 1976 E. Akurgal, 2001
Site map - Sirkeli Projekt Libation holes on the rock - B. Bilgin, 2009
Second Relief
T. Bilgin, 2019 E. Anıl, 2019 E. Anıl, 2019

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Image sources:
Bora Bilgin, 2009, 2019.
Tayfun Bilgin, 2019.
Ertuğrul Anıl, 2019.
Sirkeli Höyük Projekt (
Kurt Bittel, Die Hethiter, München, 1976.
Ekrem Akurgal, The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations, Ankara, 2001.