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YAZILIKAYA


      The official temple and sanctuary of the Hittite Empire is now called Yazilikaya.  A shrine carved into a natural alcove of rocks lies about a mile and a half northeast of Hattusa. It's being open to the sky and nature, it is thought that the rites were nature oriented.
     There were two alcoves, one larger than the other, both somewhat separated form each other. Yazilikaya comprises two chambers or alcoves and a roofless sanctuary containing reliefs of gods and goddesses on parade. Goddesses appear in profile, wearing long robes; gods, most wearing kilts, face forward.



   
   The deities' names are often inscribed over their heads. At first the alcoves were enclosed with a simple wall. During a later building phase, a small temple building was added, in front of the alcoves, and a large gateway was also added. A gateway was also added in front of the smaller alcove. During an even later phase, a larger building was added, and the gateways were rearranged to accommodate entrance to the smaller alcove. The temple buildings were rooms arranged around a courtyard. The religious ceremonies took place outside, with the rock relief figures in attendance. Apparently each alcove was used in a slightly different ceremonies, which is now lost to us. In the larger alcove, one wall has mostly gods, while the other has mostly goddesses. At the meeting point of the two walls are found the chief divinities. The smaller alcove seems to have been devoted to one of the past kings, either Tudhaliya II or III. The alcove seems to have be use exclusively for King Tudhaliya IV during his lifetime.



      There is one relief showing him in the embrace of the god Sharruma, and a sword sticking out of the rock before him. There was also his statue in the central position, while all the gods in relief on the walls were oriented toward this statue. One’s imagination runs wild with this information. There are also 12 gods In relief, thought to represent the twelve months of the year, rather like our zodiac. Yazilakaya was outside the city of Hattusas, near where a spring issued from the rocks, and flowed through a small alcove. Shaded by trees and carpeted with grass and flowers, the alcove must have inspired the Hittites to worship of their deities here, and perhaps their kings as well.

 





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