Reflections from Religious Ceremonies of the Old Hittite Period Art – Tayfun Yıldırım


29 February 2020 – 14:30


29 February 2020 – 15:30

Reflections from Religious Ceremonies of the Old Hittite Period Art

In the first half of the Second Millennium B.C. a kingdom arose in central Anatolia which became one of the great superpowers of the ancient Near Eastern world. It was called the kingdom of Hatti. Today we refer to inhabitants of this land as Hittites.  Hittite historiography begins with a story concerning  the city of Kanish / Nesha which must be the first capital of Hittites. In order to understanding the roots of the Hittite Art, we have to look at the Assyrian Trade Colony Period Art objects dating to the first three centuries of the 2nd Millennium B.C. In the Assyrian Colony period Kültepe was the center of the Kingdom of Kanish. The Earliest example of depictions rendered in the Hittite artistic style shows that Hittite art originated in Kültepe / Kanish near Kayseri. The continuation of pottery styles into “Old Hittite Kingdom Period” beginning with the reign of Hattuşili I, shows closest similarities to the Late phase pottery of the Assyrian Trade Colony period. The origins of the terracotta cult objects from the Old Hittite Kingdom period, described as “relief vases” are also linked to Kültepe.

In the second half of the 16 th century B.C. (the Old Hittite Period).  It is possible to speak of a distinctive Hittite Art. Relief-decorated cult vessels are the most important elements of religious and royal art of these period. We can mostly see humans depicted on  the narrative friezes. They are arranged in ritual processions with gods and goddesses,  priests,  priestesses, gift bringers, musicians, dancers, singers and acrobat participating. Also depicted are vehicles, altars, shrines and temples. Animals were shown as objects of sacrifice. Mostly regional cult festivals which were celebrated for the weather gods  are depicted on these vessels. We know that all Hittite relief vessels do not represent the same cult ceremony. Sometimes scenes of acrobatic bull leaping were depicted on the frizes as in the Aegean manner.

Tayfun Yıldırım

Ankara Üniversitesi, Arkeoloji Bölümü