Friday, June 3, 2016

A Few Thoughts about the Hittite Lion - Essay

Lion Gate Bronze Age Citadel of Ancient Hittites

"...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. Let me recommend you see this ancient artifact, it's as enticing  as the ancient Lion Gate at Mycenae. After a glass of wine, I bought a small statuette of a Hittite lion in a tiny market near the ruins. Today that small statuette is one of my favorite possessions. Although I don't know from which kind of stone my Hittite Lion is carved.

Image from antikcag.tarihi Instagram
King's Gate
This Hittite Lion (2800 B.C.) was excavated from  the
Tel Tayinat Tumulus in Antakya. Image from arkeoveyasam
Instagram.

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 the Pharaoh had his scribes duplicate the treaty on the walls of his mortuary temple in Thebes, but turned it into a slanted piece of propaganda with hieroglyphics depicting Egyptian chariots running over Hittite soldiers’ bodies.

My Hittite Lion arranged near a 19th Century Landscape