Alacahöyük Excavation Area

Central Anatolia

One of Turkey's most important Bronze Age sites (though settlement here actually stretches from the Chalcolithic through to the Iron Age), Alacahöyük's compact excavation area comprises a monumental gate with two sphinxes, a temple complex, a set of early Bronze Age royal shaft graves and a fortified postern gate with a tunnel passage you can still walk through.

Last tickets are 4.45pm from November to March.

The site is entered through the Sphinx Gate with two eyeless sphinxes guarding the door. The detailed reliefs bordering the gate are copies; the originals are in Ankara's Museum of Anatolian Civilisations. They portray musicians, a sword swallower, animals for sacrifice and the Hittite king and queen – all part of festivities and ceremonies dedicated to the Hittite storm god Teshup, shown here as a bull. Once through the gate, the main excavations on the right-hand side are of a Hittite palace/temple complex.

To the left of the monumental gate, protected under plastic covers, are the pre-Hittite (Hattian civilisation-era) royal shaft graves. Dating to 2500 to 2000 BC, each skeleton was buried individually along with a variety of personal belongings and several oxen skulls, which archaeologists presume to be the leftovers of a funereal meal.

On the far left of the back of the excavation area is the ancient city's postern gate, a man-made stone and earthen mound with a vaulted tunnel running through it. Walk through and look down at the surrounding farm fields below to see how the Alacahöyük site was built up over the millennia.

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