Land of the Hittites deserted after pandemic
The archaeological sites in the Central Anatolian province of Çorum, home to the Hittite capital Hattusha and Alacahöyük, which has the title of Turkey’s first national excavation area, are now empty due to the coronavirus pandemic and waiting to welcome excavation teams and visitors again.
Çorum is one of Turkey’s most important tourism centers with its natural, historic and popular tourist areas.
Besides Hattusha and Alacahöyük, the museums, which are home to thousands of artifacts in the city are waiting to return to their old vivid days.
Hattusha was included the World Heritage List by UNESCO in 1986 due to the perfect protection of some structures and architectural communities in its ruins. After that, its cuneiform tablet archives representing the oldest known Indo-European language were also inscribed to the Memory of the World list in 2001.
In the region, the Hittite Dam, one of the first known dams in Anatolia, king and prince tombs, the Lion Gate sphinx and the archaeological excavation site, which is normally open to visitors, are experiencing the most silent days in their history.
Hattusha has a rich history with its six-kilometer walls surrounding the ancient city, its monumental gates, the 71-meter-long underground passage, the palace in Büyükkale, 31 temples unearthed so far, the Lion Gate, the King Gate and the Yazılıkaya Open Air Temple.
The Şapinuva ruins in Alacahöyük and Ortaköy district, known as the religious capital of the Hittites and where modern Turkey founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk ordered the re-excavation work by allocating some funds in 1935, and the İncesu Canyon, where to the wheat silo and the Kybele relief are located, stand out as its prominent historical sites.
In addition to the ruins, the Çorum Museum, where the finds from important excavation sites such as Hattusha, Alacahöyük, Sapinuva, Eskiyapar, Resuloğlu, Hüseyindede, Yörüklü are exhibited, were closed to visitors as part of the COVID-19 measures taken by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.
Archaeological excavations in Hattusha, which have been carried out by the German Archeology Institute under the auspices of the Culture and Tourism Ministry but suspended for two years, and the works in Alacahöyük, expected to be carried out by Ankara University this year, will start again after the decision of the ministry.
This year, it is not known when this process will start in the archaeological excavation areas, where normally works begin in the May-June period after cleaning.