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Hattusha Lower City

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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View Hattusas (Bogazkale) in a larger map
The Lower City (aka Old City) of Hattusha stretched from the northwestern wall bounding the modern village of Bogazkale all the way southeast to the tip of Büyükkale. The the south and southwest, the Lower City is bound by the Postern Wall.

3rd/2nd Mill BC - ?. The oldest traces of settlement in the Lower City date to the Late Early Bronze Age (straddling the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC) by Hattians of local origin. Also excavated were remnants of a karum of the 19th and 18th cent BC. When the Hittites established themselves in the lower city, they built a temple with storerooms, and an adjacent residential area. The residences' house walls were built of sun-dried mud-bricks partially supported by a timber frame; their flat roofs were made of timbers plastered with mud. These multi-room houses contained ovens, open fireplaces and sometimes even clay bathtubs. Water for consumption was carried from neighborhood fountains. A drainage system whisked away sewage via mains beneath streets and alleys.

Abschnittsmauer (City Wall)

In use during the Hittite empire, the abschnittsmauer was an inner city wall that protected the Great Temple and adjacent settlement.

It was 7m thick and adhered to the box system (kasternmauer): an outer and an inner wall (each ~1.5-2m thick) were connected every several meters by transverse walls, forming enclosed box-shaped spaces that were then filled with rubble. Each 20-25m segment of curtain wall was adjoined by a tower that was 3-4m thicker than the curtain wall and protruded at the front.

For security reasons, Hittites kept limited access to their city walls. Only every sixth or seventh tower had a door to get in from the ground outside.

Every tower had two doors on its upper story to access the adjacent curtain walls; the curtain walls were only accessible from the towers. Tall rectangular windows were built into the towers on the front, back and two sides protruding from the curtain walls. The tower roofs were accessible via a ladder. To stabilize each story of the towers, an encircling anchorage of large timbers (ringanker) was installed; in the reconstruction, this is visible as a bulging line between each story.

The roof was made of a dense layer of poplar logs, covered by a layer of mud, covered by a 10-12cm thick layer of impermeable earthen çorak. The outer surface of the roof was divided into sections, each slightly sloped to guide rain water to drains. Drains were made of timber halves. These kinds of roofs are still used in Anatolian villages. After heavy rains they require re-sealing and re-sloping; snow must be quickly removed or else trapped melted water will permeate the roof.

Abschnittsmauer reconstruction (2005 CE- ?)

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstructionReconstruction of the abschnittsmauer. View from outside the city. © LMC 2009
Sponsored by JT International, a 65m long section of the abschnittsmauer was reconstructed during eleven months, broken into three campaigns between 2003 and 2005.

No original brickwork of Hattusha's city walls remains. Instead, the reconstruction relied upon clay models from the Hittite period and preserved mudbricks elsewhere in Hattusha. To build the bricks, clay-rich soil, straw and water were mixed in large pits; the straw was a temper to prevent cracking during drying. Wood slats were arranged into a grid of 45x10 rectangles; the mixture was poured into the frame; the surfaces were smoothed; and the frame was removed. The bricks were left in the sun to dry for 10-12 days. This prepared mud bricks of the same average size as those preserved in burnt ruins at Hattusha.

Approximately 64,000 bricks were produced for the reconstruction of the wall. Mud bricks are sturdy yet rain-sensitive. The walls were dampened and a thin layer of plaster (the same mixture used for the bricks) was hand-applied. With each brick weighing ~34kg, and the weight of the mortar and plaster, nearly 2500 tons of material was used to reconstruct the mud brick wall.

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstructionReconstruction of the abschnittsmauer. Tower first story. View from inside the city. © LMC 2009

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstructionReconstruction of the abschnittsmauer. Tower second story. View from inside the city. © LMC 2009

Temple 1

Temple 1 (Great Temple) is the largest building structure in Hattusha.

The temple itself is 65x42m; including its storerooms it is 14,500m2. Its construction date is unknown, but it was likely in use during the Hittite Empire. The Temple Building lacks a staircase, indicating it was only one story. Monolithic doorsills mark doorways, aiding to determine the Great Temple's 82 ground-floor rooms. The storage depots likely had stairwell access to two or even three stories, meaning the storage magazines contained a maximum of 200 storerooms.

Some of the Great Temple's wall socles were fashioned out of limestone blocks up to 1.5m high and up to 5m long, weighing 20 tons or more. The walls themselves were timber frame construction filled with mudbrick. They were then covered with mud plaster, in areas worked into designs in relief and likely painted lavishly. The roof was made of timbers sealed with mud. Many dowel holes remain, as do the low sills of large windows. The Great Temple was likely kept shuttered, however, due to its sanctity.

hattusha bogazkale mud lower city aerial viewAerial view of Lower City. © LMC 2009

hattusha bogazkale mud lower city and brick city wall reconstructionView of the Lower City residences with reconstructed Abschnittsmauer in distance. © LMC 2009

Lion Basin

Originally 5.5m long and carved from a single limestone block. Chisel marks reveal that Byzantine or Roman stonemasons had cut into the block to haul away some pieces. It originally had four lions, one at each corner. Served as either a water basin or base for a large statue.

hattusha bogazkale lion basin side view

hattusha bogazkale lion basin closeup


The gateway to the temple area has three large thresholds; upon passing through, the thresholds to the left and right must have sheltered the temple guards.

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstruction

Green Stone

A block of green nephrite-type stone common to the region. Once stood elsewhere, as it now is beneath the original surface of the temple storeroom (it is much lower than the nearby doorway). A cruder and smaller green stone is present in Temple 5 in the Upper City.

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstruction Temple 1, the Green Stone. Büyükkaya in distance.

Water Basin

Chiseled from a limestone, perhaps for cultic rituals.


The entrance to the Inner Court was a narrow passage in the soutwest side. The pivots of doors remain, as well as abrasion from the opening and closing of the heavy wooden doors.

Inner Court

At 27x20m, the Inner Court was paved with large flat stones, surrounded by high walls and open to the sky.


Near the far end of the Inner Court is a freestanding socle of gabbro (rather than limestone), a hard blackish-green igneous rock. It likely was an altar.


A stoa was at the far end of the Inner Court, of which only the gabbro column bases remain. The stoa led to several antechambers and then to the Holy of Holies.

Holy of Holies

Access to the Holy of Holies was permitted only to the King, Queen, High Prests and certain temple priests. It contained two cult chambers, indicating the Great Temple was dedicated to two deities. These deities were likely the most revered deities, the Weather God of Hatti and the Sun Goddess of Arinna.

The gabbro socles were exactly fitted together, sometimes even interlocking. Only the foundations of the western chamber remain; nearly the entire wall socle of the eastern chamber remains, which measures 8x10m.

Other Rooms

Other rooms in the Great Temple were likely for rituals, priestly dressing rooms, storage for cultic objects, sacrificial live animals and also bureaucracy. Regarding bureaucracy, the temples were economically important and used wax-covered pieces of wood for archives; there were even wood-roster scribe job positions. These rooms were empty when excavated.


The rooms along the northwest side were empty except for the remains of hundreds of large pottery vessels that were sunk into the ground (some of which still remain). Each vessel held up to 2,000 liters are would have included grains, beans, oil and wine for the temple provender.

Many vessels' shoulders were scratched with indications of their contents and purpose. The storerooms along the opposite side of the Great Temple served as archives, evidenced by the thousands of cuneiform tablets and fragments.

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstruction


A paved street that runs along the southwest side of the Great Temple and led to the South Gate of the inner city wall. Under the street was a sewage canal to service the immediate locale.

hattusha bogazkale paved street Paved street alongside southwest side of Temple 1; leads to South Gate. © LMC

Southern District (Complex 1)

Complex 1 (aka Southern District) is a 5300 m2 building complex that was walled-in with only one entrance.

It was completely cleared out when Hattusha was deserted, although cuneiform tablet found in Complex 1 mentions a House of Operations (e-gish-kinti). A House of Operations' tasks usually involved priests, musicians, singers and bother clay-tablet and wood-roster scribes. Complex 1 likely contained storerooms, cult chambers, workshops and ateliers.


Just southwest of Complex 1 is a small walled grotto that collected water from a spring. The original lintel is in the Bogazkale Museum. A stele found in the area (now at Museum of Anatolian Civilizations) indicates cultic roles for the spring and grotto.

hattusha bogazkale mud brick city wall reconstructionTemple 1, drain off the Inner Court. © LMC 2009

House on the Slope (? - 13th century BC)

In the Old City of the Hittites there were many structures terraced into the slope between the royal citadel of Büyükkale to the Great Temple.

One such structure is the House on the Slope, which was a two-storied 32x36 m structure. One room alone in the upper story measured 13x17 m. This grand scale suggests it had an official use. The building was destroyed by fire at the end of the 13th cent BC. Remnants of the mudbrick walls have survived to present. A comprehensive clay tablet archive was recovered from the ruins of the first story.

hattusha bogazkale house on the slope House on the Slope. Southwest view. © LMC 2009


Kesikkkaya (meaning cut rock) is a rock outcropping with a natural cleft.

A Hittite structure once stood atop it, as evidenced by step-like ledges and rows of bore holes. Kesikkaya was used as a source of stone for the Lower City; Roman and Byzantine quarrying is evidenced by scarring high up Kesikkaya.

hattusha bogazkale kesikkayaKesikkaya. © LMC 2009

hattusha bogazkale kesikkaya close upBore holes and steps atop Kesikkaya. © LMC 2009

Postern Wall (16th century BC - ?)

The oldest fortification of Hattusha is the Postern Wall, which protected the Lower City on the south and southwest.

It followed the valley's natural contours all the way up to Büyükkale. The Postern Wall was likely erected by Hittite king Hantili, as a tablet from Hattusha' cuneiform archives alleges that he built fortifications for Hattusha which "earlier had no protection whatsoever" -- this likely meant that his fortifications paled earlier attempts. In typical Hittite fashion it was built with casemate walls. Eight posterns beneath the wall were situated 70-180m form each other to connect the inside to the outside. The posterns were of corbeled masonry. Their precise function is unclear, although they have been sally ports; postern is from Latin posterula, meaning back- or side-door). The Postern Wall was renovated and remodeled in the centuries after its construction.

hattusha bogazkale postern wallPostern Wall, view of the postern nearest to Kesikkaya. © LMC 2009

Grain Silo (Old Hittite Era - ?)

In the Old Hittite Period a subterranean grain silo was built next to the Postern Wall (note that Büyükkaya is home to a separate silo).

The complex was ~118m long and 30-40m wide, containing two rows each containing 16 compartments. The walls (but not floors) were made of ~1.5m thick mud-brick tiles; outside surfaces were insulated with thick layers of clay to keep out moisture. The compartment was then lined with a thick layer of straw. Grain was poured up to the rim of the compartment. Atop this was placed straw and then loamy soil to create a hermetic seal.

hattusha bogazkale grain silo preserved Grain silos. © LMC 2009

The height of the compartments is unknown, though their capacity was realistically 7-9,000 m3. This could suffice 20-30,000 people for a year (barring beer brewing) and must have served as not just a reserve, but as a treasury important to the Hittite king's economic power.

During the 16th cent BC the silo complex was engulfed in flames that consumed exterior structures. Some grain burned, but due to low oxygen levels much of it was just charred. Excavations not only uncovered preserved mud-bricks, but also layers over one meter thick of preserved grain, the only find of its kind in the ancient Near East.

Most of the grain was barley, but various seeds of weeds and other plants were also present; these likely grew in the fields and made their way into the harvest.

Kizlar Kaya

Kizlar Kaya (Maiden's Rock) gained its name by a rumor of a relief of a young girl on the rock face.

Roman and Byzantine masons removed stone blocks from Kizlar Kaya, though its configuration is largely preserved. Atop Kizlar Kaya is a platform with bore holes, benches and altar-like spaces that indicate a structure may have existed.

hattusha bogazkale kizlar kaya Kizlar Kaya. Southwest view. © LMC 2009

West Gates (Hittite Empire)

The West Gates are part of the west side of the Upper City fortification wall. However, they are more proximal to the Lower City.

Unlike the other gates in the Upper City fortification -- the Lion and King Gates -- these West Gates have no aesthetic other than attractive parabolic arches.

Lower West Gate

The Lower West Gate is atop a street that runs parallel to the Postern Wall, indicating that the path was in use during the Old Hittite Period long before the West Gates were actually built.

hattusha bogazkale lower west gate southeast viewLower West Gate. Southeast View. © LMC 2009

hattusha bogazkale lower west gate doorDoor pivot. © LMC 2009

hattusha bogazkale lower west gate fossilFossil on northeast corner. © LMC 2009

Upper West Gate

The Upper West Gate accessed to a high ridge of the Upper City that has not been fully excavated.