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The Great Period of Hittite Empire

       With the Great King Shupiluliuma I coming into power, the Hittites again had a ruler who was able to lead their sadly weakened and diminished realm to a new magnitude. They finally managed to rupture the power of the Mitanni empire, the mighty opponent in the Tigris and Euphrates basin (today the southeast of Turkey and the northern parts of Syria and Iraq). With Hittite territory now bordering directly on the northernmost province of Pharaonic Egypt, there was soon strife between these two great powers. They came face to face in the famous Battle of Khadesh on the Orontes (near Horns in Syria) in ca. 1 274 BC, the army of the Great King Muwattalli II pitched against that of the Pharaoh Rarnses II. The battle ended in a draw, and in the development of a relationship between the two lands that led within a few years to a peace treaty which staunchly endured throughout the rest of the Hittite Empire period. (In the New York Headquarters of the United Nations an enlarged copy of a clay tablet from Hattusha setting out the conditions of the agreement hangs on the wall as an example of one of the earliest international peace treaties in the world).
       During the reign of Muwattalli, Hattusha lost its role as the capital for a short while when the King moved his residency to Tarhuntasha, a city in the southwest - another site still awaiting discovery. It was not long before his successor, Murshili III, returned to Hattusha, only to be quickly deposed by his uncle Hattushili [II. It was at this juncture, as we know today, that a monumental rebuilding of the capital began; most of the structures visible today stem from this period.
        The Great King Hattushili Ill is credited with the construction of the Great Temple, a project necessitating the reorganization of entire districts within the Lower City. He may also have initiated the construction of the Upper City, for which his son Tudhaliya IV was mainly responsible. The erection of a new 3.3-km long defense wall along the heights to the south of the city doubled the enclosed area. Within the wall a great many large structures were built, among them many temples. In addition, the Royal Citadel was completely renovated into a large palace with colonnaded stoas, residences, and storage facilities as well as an audience- or reception hail. Finally, then, Tudhaliya IV is also credited with having brought the rock sanctuary at Yazilzkaya to its ultimate arrangement. Hattusha was, after all, not only the political center of the Hittite state, but the religious center of the land as well - referred to as the City of a Thousand Gods.
       The end, however, was not far off. Unfortunately, aside from some biographies of their leaders, the Hittites left practically no historical texts; what we know of the final decline has been pieced together , a mosaic of bits and pieces of information: succession to the throne was contested, there were years of poor harvests, and the state was weakened by enemy attacks. Toward the end of the 13th century BC, precautionary measures taken in the city reflect the threat of attack from outside; additional fortifications and breach walls were erected, and the grain supplies were barricaded within a separate citadel on Buyükkaya. Many temples in the Upper City had been allowed to fall into ruins, and among these a residential area sprang up, apparently to house those seeking refuge within the city walls.
       Thus the great empire came to an end, bringing with it the close of the Bronze Age in Central Anatolia. It was indeed a time of unrest throughout the whole of the Mediterranean region, the era when the coastal populations were suffering piratical attacks at the hands of the so-called Sea Peoples. Entire populations were migrating from one place to another, and in Central Anatoha there was no one to take over the empire structured by the Hittites; the scant population left in the region retreated into a pastoral, partially nomadic way of life.


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The End of The Hattusas
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