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Alacahöyük Tours Travel Guide Turkey

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The site of Alacahöyük is considered one of the most important of Anatolia's archaeological discoveries. It was here that the Royal Graves dating to the Bronze Age were found. Alacahöyük is in the same general vicinity as the Hittite capital at Boğazköy. To reach the mount of Alaca turn off the road to Boğazköy, to the left, just before reaching the village.


The finds from the excavations at Alacahöyük are representative of the Early Bronze Age period in Anatolia. The Middle Bronze Age is documented at. the site of Kültepe, and the Late Bronze Age ill the Ilittile capital, Mattusas or Bota/.koy. Alacahoyiik is believed to have been the 4th-eentary site of the city of Kussara, occupied by the Hitlilcs, using it as their first capital before moving over to Hattusas at the end of the third millenium B.C. This has not been well established, however. The information thus far gleaned from the site has been IVoni the group of thirteen ceremonial burials that were uncovered there, the Royal Graves of Alacahoyiik. This site was an important center as early as the Chalcolithic Age.

The first excavations carried out at Alacahoyiik were started in 1861 by a French archaeologist, Georges Perrot. More extensive work was initiated by the Turkish Historical Association in 1935 and continued until 1948. While excavating in the deeper levels of the city-mound at Alacahoyiik, the group of graves was found by Turkish archaeologists. They are thought to be of a local ruling family of tint Early Bronze II period, buried among the paraphernalia of their funerary ceremonies and accompanied by their private possessions. The interments had been made over a period of several generations. Some of the graves contained single burials, while others held the remains of both a man and a woman buried on separate occasions. In the graves, the men were buried with their weapons and women with jewelry, ornaments and toiletries. Both were accompanied by utensils and eating vessels that were made of precious metals. An extraordinary find was a dagger in the shape of a crescent, made entirely for iron. This metal, very rarely used during this early period, was likely to have been much more valuable than gold. A large assortment of funeary objects was found in the graves including the bronze «sun-disks» and standards that were likely used at the top of a pole in the funeral procession or on canopy-stakes at the burial spot. Many of these standards were uncovered in the graves. They are open-work grills, often adorned with animal figures. Others were simply representations of animal mounted on a base, such as the well-known Hittite stag. These were made of bronze and inlaid with silver. 

The graves themselves at Alacahoyiik were in the form of rectangular pits, as large as twenty feet long and ten feet wide in several cases. The tombs were lined with a wall of rough stone and covered with a lid of wooden beams. On top o I the wood were placed the skulls and hooves of cattle, which had apparently re­mained attached to the hides; it is assumed that the carcases ol the animals were eaten during the funeral feast. Wooden furniture and other perishable articles are thought to have been placed in the graves with the bodies. 



The most important of the extant remains of the Tlittites at Alacahoyiik is the Sphinx Gate, which marked the entrance to the Bronze Age city. This dates to the Hittite Empire period of 1450- 1180 B.C. The original orthostats that decorated the city wall are in the museum in Ankara, but they have been replaced at the site by cast replicas. These orthostats, from the left side of the entrance are representative of a king and his queen worshipping the sacred bull; sacrificial animal; priests; jugglers, a sword swallower and a man climbing a ladder that is standing in space; and an unfinished relief Lliat may possibly have been intended as a chariot scene. On the right side of the entrance gate is likely a representation of the sun goddess Arinna, who was the primary female deity of the Hittites. Looking from the Sphinx Gate to the north side of the site, we find a double door which forms the entrance to a temple of the Neo-Hittite or New Period. The building, including its courtyard, measures twenty by eighty meters. The remains of various other buildings can be seen at the site, as well. These date to various periods in history. The museum at Alacahoyiik has some excellent displays of objects found there during the excavations. Most have been removed to the Ankara museum.