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.
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.
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.
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.
The scenery through here was not inspiring, often something like this:
but what are all those red things in the hill in the above photo, you’re wondering? How ’bout onions?
It wasn’t always so drab, of course.
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.
Here’s a ceremonial (?) tunnel entrance to the site:
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.
I was impressed by this old (also Early Bronze Age) teapot from about the time the Egyptians were building pyramids at Giza (!).
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.
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.
Known as the city of 1000 gods, apparently almost all the remains we still see in Hattuşaş were temples.
Nearby is Yazılıkaya where the carvings are, I believe, original (Hittite: 1800-1200 BCE).
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.
Ferda’s village is visible in this photo, above my bicycle, at the base of the far ridge.
Welcome to Esipkıran (aka Beylice)! It was my first visit.
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:
the very nice cem evi:
land that belongs to Ferda’s family:
and the cemetery where all four of Ferda’s grandparents are buried:
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.