According to the study, the Yazilikaya temple, built 3200 years ago on the territory of modern Turkey, had an unusual purpose. Archaeologists have suggested that in fact the Hittite sanctuary is a giant map of the cosmos and a calendar at the same time.
The Yazylykaya is an open-air shrine that was one of the most important monuments of the Hittite Empire. Remains of the Hittite capital Chattush can be found near the modern village of Bogazkale in central Turkey. Yazilikaya is located within walking distance from the ancient capital.
In Yazilikaya, the Hittites carved and modified natural rock outcrops to create two roofless spaces decorated with reliefs of their deities. They have used this place for centuries; its present appearance dates from about 1230 BC.
Among all the theories about the purpose of the shrine, one sounded very plausible. It was believed that one of the two premises was used for New Year’s ceremonies, and the other was a mausoleum for the king of the Hittites.
Swiss scientists Eberhard Sanger and Rita Gotchi have suggested that some images of the gods were used by the Hittites as a calendar to track both solar years and lunar months.
The researchers also suggested that the Yazilikaya temple is the embodiment of the ideas of the ancient Hittites about the creation of the world, the structure of the Universe, and a map of the cosmos.
The fact is that the Hittites had their own idea of how the world was created. For example, they were sure, believed that the whole world arose in chaos and was organized on three levels: the first is the underworld, the second is the earth, and the third is the sky.
So, the Hittites identified the circumpolar stars that never sink below the horizon. Research has shown that one of the groups of deities in Yazilikaya depicts these stars. Other images may be associated with the earth and the underworld.
The second aspect of Hittite cosmology was the “periodic renewal of life,” the scientists explain. For example, day follows night, the crescent moon turns into a full moon, and winter turns into summer. The calendar carvings reflect this cyclical view of nature.
The scientific world still has to prove or refute the hypothesis put forward.