Friday, June 3, 2016

A Few Thoughts about the Hittite Lion - Essay


"...I toured the ancient Hittite archaeological site of Hattusha, not far from the city of Bogazkale in central Turkey...."


A Few Thoughts about the Hittite Lion

In 1999 I toured the ancient Hittite archaeological site of Hattusha, not far from the city of Bogazkale in central Turkey. While climbing around the ruins of the double-wall Bronze Age citadel and temple complex, I came upon the famous Hittite lions, a pair of enormous sculptural lions that decorate the citadel’s gate, known as the Lion Gate. I was so moved by this preserved ancient artifact, I bought a small statuette of a Hittite lion in a tiny market near the ruins, and though it comparably inexpensive, my Hittite lion has become one of my most precious possessions.


We know a few things about the Hittites from inscriptions on cuneiform clay tablets. For instance, they excelled in metal work and made chariots that were superior to those of their enemies. Further, the Hittites were pioneers in international diplomacy.  In fact, clay tablets record the world’s oldest known peace treaty between the Hittite King Hattusili III and the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses, whom King Hattusili conquered.  It must have annoyed Ramesses to have a treaty forced upon him by the Hittites after he lost the Battle of Kadesh in 1259 BC., because when Ramesses’ scribes duplicated the treaty on the walls of his mortuary temple in Thebes, their hieroglyphics depicted Egyptian chariots running over Hittite soldiers’ bodies.



Image - Lion Gate Ancient Hittite Citadel
Image - King's Gate
Image - My Hittite Lion near a 19th Century Landscape