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Hittites in Northern Syria

Nature volume 141, page 1092 (18 June 1938) | Download Citation



ONCE more Sir Leonard Woolley's archaeological investigations in the East have produced unanticipated results. In his dispatch from Atchana in Northern Syria (The Times, June 13), which covers the work of his expedition during the first half of the current season, he records that two hundred inscribed tablets have been found, which reveal for the first time the existence of a strongly established and highly organized Hittite power in Northern Syria at about 1600 B.C., at least two centuries before the great expansion of the Hittite Empire, centring on Hattusas (Boghaz Keui) beyond the Taurus, in what is now Anatolia, with which scholars were previously familiar from excavation and inscribed records. These archives are part of the official documents removed from the Hittite palace, of which a preliminary examination was made at the close of last year's excavations, and now shown to have been destroyed by fire, presumably accidental, as the contents of the building had been removed. The most striking feature of the building, in the account given by Sir Leonard, is the skilled arrangement and the elaborate character of the accommodation. The ruins, still standing to more than a man's height, cover more than 22,000 square feet. Access to the building is from an open courtyard and through a great entry into an entrance hall, from which doorways right and left give admission to the business and residential quarters of the palace respectively. These were virtually separate buildings without intercommunication, and the difference in their character and arrangement indicate their entirely different purposes. In the residential quarter, intended, Sir Leonard thinks, for important members of the palace personnel–the royal family being accommodated above, and the domestic staff, equipment and stores being housed in the courtyard in front of the entry— the accommodation consisted of suites, each of which contained a good-sized bathroom and lavatory. The whole arrangement and content of the palace is, as Sir Leonard remarks, eloquent of a strong and stable government ; while the pottery, ivory and gold work bear witness to relations with Cyprus, Crete, Phenicia and the Greek mainland, as well as with Egypt and Mesopotamia.

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