Secret Tunnel Uncovered in Ancient Hittite Mountain Castle

A Hittite castle secret tunnel has been excavated in Turkey, in Central Anatolia. The tunnel is approximately 4,000 years old and is a part of the Geval Castle. At this point around 150 meters of the tunnel have been dug out and investigated; the rest of it is sealed off with a vault.

Mountain Castle, Central Turkey

Mountain Castle, Central Turkey, via hurriyetdailynews.com

The Geval Castle, where the Hittite castle secret tunnel was found, is located at the very peak of Takkei Mountain at 1,700 meters, some 7 kilometers west of the modern-day town of Konya, which is the seventh city in Turkey by population. In ancient times, however, Konya was home to several civilizations, thanks to its strategic placement and a 360-degree view of the area around it.

Thanks to this, not only Hittites, but also Ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire used Geval Castle as an important defensive structure.

The archeological excavations at Geval Castle began three years ago in 2012 and were supervised by the Turkish Ministry of Culture, Seljuk Municipality, the University of Necmettin Erbakan and the General Directorate of Konya Museum.

According to a prominent archeology site in Turkey, Arkeolo Jihaber, the team of excavator has managed to find numerous items from the Hittite era, including some ceramic pots and pans, several different metal objects and an assortment of different small hand goods. In 2014, the archeologists have unearthed a temple from this era and various rock-hewn cisterns.

The Hittite castle secret tunnel that the archeologists have found now dates back about four thousand years and was in all likelihood used extensively in the Seljuk era between 11th and 12th century AD.

Excavations, Hittite Castle

Excavations, Hittite Castle, via www.hurriyetdailynews.com

Professor Ahmet Çaycı, one of the leaders if this excavation, said the following about the discovery:

“It is closed with a vault and looks like a part of the land. But when you go deeper, you understand that it is a tunnel. The first examples of secret tunnels go back to the Hittites. This tunnel is about 4,000 years old. Our findings show that it was used by the Seljuks but we are sure it was also used in earlier eras. This tunnel was built in the Hittites era.”

Professor Çaycı also mentioned that the Hittite castle secret tunnel likely provided a connection between the inside and outside of Geval Castle and added:

“It is closed with a vault and looks like a part of the land. But when you go deeper, you understand that it is a tunnel. The first examples of secret tunnels go back to the Hittites. This tunnel is about 4,000 years old. Our findings show that it was used by the Seljuks but we are sure it was also used in earlier eras. This tunnel was built in the Hittites era.”

According to Çaycı, the team of archeologists will take a break from investigating the secret tunnel and the Geval Castle itself and will continue excavations in May next year.

This Hittite castle secret tunnel could be of great help to the archeologists and historians in understanding the Hittites and their history a bit better.

About the Hittites

The Lion Gate at Bogazkale

The Lion Gate at Bogazkale, Credits: Wikimedia

The Hittites were an ancient people residing mostly in Anatolia, modern-day Turkey, who founded an empire at Hattusa (north-central Anatolia) around the 18BC.

Hittite history is divided into three major periods:

  • Old Hittite Kingdom (ca. 1750 to 1500 BC)
  • Middle Hittite Kingdom (ca. 1500 to 1430 BC)
  • New Hittite Kingdom, or Hittite Empire (ca. 1430 to 1180 BC)

The Hittite empire reached its peak in 14th century BC under the rule of Suppoluliuma First and Mursili Second, when it covered the majority of Asia Minor and parts of Upper Mesopotamia and Levant.

Thanks to their use of iron, the Hittites were able to launch several very successful military campaigns to nearby regions. However, iron wasn’t the only reason for their successes in the battlefield. The Hittites also used the light chariot. These were powered by two horses and were narrower and faster than what the other nations had at the time.

The Hittite empire reached its peak in 14th century BC under the rule of Suppoluliuma First and Mursili Second, when it covered the majority of Asia Minor and parts of Upper Mesopotamia and Levant. At one point, a few years after the battle at Kadesh (1275 BC), the daughter of the Hittite king Hattusilis the Third married the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses Second.

Following this, civil wars and rivaling claims to the throne weakened the Hittite Empire, until it finally collapsed around 1160 BC into several independent “Neo-Hittite” city-states, none of which lasted longer than 8th century BC. Most of these city-states were later integrated into the Assyrian empire.

Neo or Syro-Hittite city-states were generally divided into two groups: northern, with a Hittite ruler still in power; and southern, which were ruled by Arameans since around 1000 BC.

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