Newly discovered Hittite site

as1In 2003 archaeologists started digging in the farmland three km outside the village of Ortaköy,  southeast of Çorum, in an area that was once the heart of the Hittite Empire.

There they slowly uncovered the site of Şapinuva (Sapınuwa) whose existence was already known from a letter in cuneiform discovered near Tokat which, translated, read: “When you receive this tablet, send immediately 1701 soldiers from Ishapitta to the city of Şapinuva. Be in front of his majesty in two days.

Excavations at the site revealed the ruins of a palace, a commercial area, a temple and a long stretch of wall, with much more no doubt still waiting to be uncovered in the surrounding fields.

Tablets discovered at the site make it clear that kings and queens lived at Şapinuva, an important administrative and trading centre. Unfortunately only the foundations of their palace now survive making it hard to conjure up the days when a grand three-storey building towered over the site.

Today visitors will probably be most impressed by the inventive way in which the stones were cut so that they would lock together without the use of concrete or nails.

More exciting are the remains of the trading area where a warren of lanes cobbled with pebbles run between what must once have been shops, their wares stored in enormous pots embedded up to their rims in the ground. Enough survive in situ to make it possible to imagine what the scene here might have been like in Hittite times, although the silence of the 21st century contrasts sharply with what must once have been the noisy hubbub of a busy bazaar.as2

Not far from here visitors can inspect the uncovered remains of the city wall and then, nearby, the foundations of a temple to the storm god Teshub complete with a fine carving of a figure right beside the entrance. Unfortunately its head is missing, lost, perhaps, to agricultural work or reused long ago in the building of a local house.

Until recently Şapinuva went little noticed, with all the attention focused on the better-known and UNESCO world-heritage-listed sites at Hattuşa/Yazılıkaya and Alaca Höyük.

All that is likely to change with the opening of the Hitit Yolu (Hittite Way, www.hitityolu.com), a 236-km-long waymarked walking and cycling route which will connect all three sites to each other and to Çorum whose museum makes the perfect starting point for finding out about the civilization that flourished here some 3,500 years ago.


The widest choice of accommodation near Şapinuva is in Çorum and Boğazköy (Hattuşa)

Transport info

Infrequent dolmuşes leave Çorum bus station for Ortaköy (55km). A taxi from Ortaköy to Şapinuva (3km) should cost around 10TL including waiting time.

Read more: http://www.todayszaman.com/news-244672-exploring-the-hittite-heartlands-along-the-hittite-way.html







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