Bicycle touring Çorum İli: in the footsteps of the Hittites

When I wrote about Tokat, I mentioned how different Tokat was from the mountainous Black Sea start of this tour. Well, the last week of this trip, in Çorum, was also very different — no steep, green Black Sea mountains like in Samsun and Ordu and no more Ottoman monuments like in Tokat and Amasya. Here it was (almost) all about the Hittites.

Crossing into Çorum province (il), I was actually on a big enough road that there was a sign marking the border. I had seen one back in Ordu as well.

IMG_20230908_101321 by bryandkeith on flickr

The first Hittite site was Şapinuva. The weather was perfect — almost too hot in the sun and almost too cold in the shade. Sitting on the bench under the big tree in the left center of this photo (below) was magical — the clouds, the views, the eagles, the breeze, the (imagined) Hittites.

IMG_20230908_123732 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230908_143855 by bryandkeith on flickr

The soft-spoken caretaker unlocked an enclosed covered area (for protection) where I saw some 3500-year-old (?) pithos used to store oil, wine, vinegar, grain, fruits, vegetables.

My flat tires started in Amasya on the way to Kritalla Antik Kenti. They continued my whole time in Çorum, an average of two/day, usually in the morning. Non sequitur…

I found a comfortable quiet campsite at a reservoir that evening, happy to relax at the end of a wonderful day.

I found a nice flat spot in  the trees across the way to spend the night near the reservoir. by bryandkeith on flickr

My next site wasn’t Hittite but a 2nd century BCE Greek tomb called Gerdekkaya. It’s in a pretty valley on the Çorum Çayı near the tiny village of Gevençiftliği.

IMG_20230909_114204 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230909_123356 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230909_123640 by bryandkeith on flickr

The scenery through here was not inspiring, often something like this:

IMG_20230909_150544 by bryandkeith on flickr

but what are all those red things in the hill in the above photo, you’re wondering? How ’bout onions?

IMG_20230907_153823 by bryandkeith on flickr

It wasn’t always so drab, of course.

IMG_20230909_161304 by bryandkeith on flickr

The next Hittite site was Alacahöyük which was better than I expected. There’s even a nice museum on site.

I don’t know if any of the carvings are original.

IMG_20230910_082032 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230910_082138 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230910_082921 by bryandkeith on flickr

Here’s a ceremonial (?) tunnel entrance to the site:

IMG_20230910_083857 by bryandkeith on flickr

For archaeologists the amazing find at Alacahöyük is apparently the Early Bronze Age (3000-2000 BCE) tombs with bronze sun disks, deer, and bull statues.

One of the early Bronze Age (2500 - 2000 BCE) tombs.  Sun disks, bronze deer, and bronze bulls were some of the typical offerings. by bryandkeith on flickr

I was impressed by this old (also Early Bronze Age) teapot from about the time the Egyptians were building pyramids at Giza (!).

IMG_20230910_091454 by bryandkeith on flickr

Some pleasant riding and probably the funnest downhill (between Yüksekyayla and Boğazkale) of the whole trip brought me to Hattuşaş, the most famous of the Hittite sites. I had actually visited here 25 years ago, but it didn’t seem at all familiar.

IMG_20230910_124840 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230910_163601 by bryandkeith on flickr
Lions’ Gate
nephrite, sometimes known as jade by bryandkeith on flickr

As at Alacahöyük, Hattuşaş had a ceremonial tunnel entrance. It was near the Sphinx Gate, near the high point of the walls that surrounded the city.

IMG_20230910_165646 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230910_165520 by bryandkeith on flickr

Known as the city of 1000 gods, apparently almost all the remains we still see in Hattuşaş were temples.

IMG_20230910_160243 by bryandkeith on flickr

Nearby is Yazılıkaya where the carvings are, I believe, original (Hittite: 1800-1200 BCE).

IMG_20230910_142808 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230910_142936 by bryandkeith on flickr

There’s a museum in Boğazkale, but I actually ran out of time as I had agreed to meet Ferda the next day at her village. I also could have spent longer wandering around Hattuşaş. There’s a fair bit to see.

The next morning I stopped at Hacer‘s mother’s house in Gökçam where she put together a great breakfast. She was very happy I stopped by.

IMG_20230911_090754 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20230911_111910 by bryandkeith on flickr
Hatice Teyze (stirring) and neighbor by bryandkeith on flickr

Ferda’s village is visible in this photo, above my bicycle, at the base of the far ridge.

IMG_20230911_152544 by bryandkeith on flickr

Welcome to Esipkıran (aka Beylice)! It was my first visit.

IMG_20230911_155613 by bryandkeith on flickr

It’s great to visit relatives on a bicycle tour ’cause there is lots of sitting around, talking, and eating. I was hungry and a bit tired too! 🙂

Here’s the village:

IMG_20230913_180432 by bryandkeith on flickr

the very nice cem evi:

IMG_20230912_175716 by bryandkeith on flickr

land that belongs to Ferda’s family:

IMG_20230912_154132 by bryandkeith on flickr

and the cemetery where all four of Ferda’s grandparents are buried:

Not one of Ferda's relatives.  Ethem Sarısülük was killed by the police during the Gezi Park protests. by bryandkeith on flickr

That grave, however, belongs to Ethem Sarısülük, one of the protesters killed by the police at the Gezi Park protests in İstanbul in 2013.

The tour’s over. Ferda and I took a bus back to Antalya.

IMG_20230914_174727 by bryandkeith on flickr
tr_%C3%87ar%C5%9Famba_Esipk%C4%B1ran_125dpi by bryandkeith on flickr
Purple this tour, blue 1998
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One Response to Bicycle touring Çorum İli: in the footsteps of the Hittites

  1. Derya Kayli says:

    hi Brian, As I was reading your Corum trip, i was so excited
    and I want to say thank you about my village where I was born for your nice interpretation and amazing photographs

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