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Karatepe and the Storm God

The Late Hittite fortress of Karatepe (also named as Aslantaş) is in the province of Osmaniye and in the district of Kadirli. The site was discovered by Prof. Helmut Bossert and Dr. Halet Çambel in 1946. Bossert and Prof. Bahadır Alkım did the initial excavations and Çambel continued after them. The fortress was founded in the 8th century BCE by Azatiwata, ruler of the plain of Adana as a frontier castle against the wild hordes lurking in the north. He named it Azatiwataya. A caravan road leading from the southern plains up-to the Central Anatolian plateau, skirted it on the west, the Ceyhan river (antique Pyramos)- now the Aslantaş dam lake-on the east. Two monumental T shaped gate-houses, flanked by high towers, gave access to the citadel. An entrance passage between two towers led up to a double-leafed wooden gate, which swung on basalt pivot-stones, from there to two lateral chambers and further on into the citadel. In a holy precinct at the inner entrance of the southwest gate stood the monumental statue of the Storm-God on its double bull-socle. The statue has been restored and set upright in its original position. The inner walls of the gate-houses were adorned with sculptures of lions and sphinxes, inscriptions and reliefs, depicting cultural, mythological and daily-life scenes carved on blocks of basalt. A bilingual text in Phoenician and hieroglyphic Luwian, the longest known texts in these languages, was inscribed on slabs of each gate and a third time in Phoenician on the statue, constituting the key for the final decipherment of the Hieroglyphs, (known in Anatolia since the 2nd mill BCE), being thus reminiscent of the famous Rosetta Stone.

After the fall of the Hittite Empire due to the invasion of the "Sea People" (around 1200 BCE), small Hittite states such as those of Malatya (Arslantepe), Sakçagözü, Maraş, Kargamış, Zincirli, sprang up south of the Taurus mountain range. They were conquered and destroyed in the course of various Assyrian campaigns. The reign of Asatiwata coincides with this period. His citadel was probably looted and burnt down to the ground by Shalmaneser V around 720 BCE or by Esarhaddon around 680 BCE.


I am indeed Asatiwata, The blessed of the Sun, the servant of the Storm-God, Whom Awariku exalted, king of Adanawa. The Storm-God made me father and mother to the city of Adanawa, And I developed the city of Adanawa, And I enlarged the land of Adanawa, both to the west and to the east. And in my days the city of Adanawa had prosperity, Satiety and comfort, and I filled the granaries of Pahara, I added horse upon horse, shield upon shield, Army upon army, all for the Storm-God and the Gods I crushed the arrogance of the arrogant, all the evil that was in the land I cast outside. I erected mansions for my lordship, I brought prosperity to my race, And I sat on the throne of my father, I made peace with every king. Kings considered me their father, for my righteousness, for my wisdom, And for the goodness of my heart. I built mighty fortresses on all my borders, On the borders where there had been bad men, leaders of gangs, none of whom had been subservient to the house of Muksas, I, Azatiwata put them at my feet. I destroyed the fortresses there, I built fortresses in those places, so that the people of Adanawa might dwell in ease and in peace. In the west I subjugated mighty lands Which the kings before me had not subjugated. And I, Azatiwata subjugated them, made them my servents. And I settled them in the east of my land, Within my borders. The people of Adanawa, too, I settled there. And in my days I enlargened the borders of Adanawa to the west as well as to the east, so that, in the places which had formerly been feared, on the desolate roads where men would be afraid to walk, in my days women could stroll with their spindles. And in my days there was plenty, satiety, comfort and peace. And Adanawa and the land of Adanawa lived in peace and plenty. And A built this citadel, And I gave it the name of Asatiwataya, Because the Storm-God and the Gods directed me towards this, So that this citadel might protect the plain of Adana and the house of Mopsos. In my days there were in the people of Adanawa was plenty and peace, In my days none of the people of Adanawa was put to the sword. And I built this citadel, I gave it the name of Azatiwataya, There I settled the Storm-God and I made sacrifices to him; annually an ox, in the season of ploughing a sheep, in autumn a sheep I sacrificed to him. I sanctified the Storm-God, He granted me long days, countless years and great strength above all kings. And the people who dwell in this land became owners of cattle, herds, plenty (of food) and wine, Their offspring was plenty, by the grace of the Storm-God and the Gods They rendered service to Asatiwata and to the house of Muksas. And if any king among kings, or any prince among princes, or a person of renown, Obliterates the name of Asatiwata in this gate and puts here another name, or even covets this city and destroys this gate which Asatiwata made, and builds another gate in its place and puts his name upon it, Whether he destroys this gate from greed, or from hate and evil, Then may the God of the Sky, the God of the Earth And the Sun of the Universe and all the generations of gods obliterate this king, this prince or this person of renown from the face of earth. Only the name of Asatiwata is immortal in eternity, Like the name of the Sun and of the Moon.

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