Alacahöyük diggings reveal Hittite canals

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The excavation area in Çorum’s Alacahöyük district reveals an ancient dam and water canals from the Hittite era, several thousand years ago.

Alacahöyük diggings reveal Hittite canals
Excavations in Alacahöyük revealed water canals dating from the Hittite era [Credit: AA/Hurriyet]

Alacahöyük excavation president Professor Aykut Çınaroğlu said the dam was discovered in 2004 during the excavations however the water canals are the new findings from the excavation works.

Noting that the dam excavation had been carried with the support of a construction firm, Çınaroğlu said the dam has believed to have been constructed by Hittites around 4,000 years ago. The dam was used for irrigation and providing drinking water to the city, he added, noting that this was the oldest dam to have been found so far.

The team also found a hieroglyphic tablet which was written in the 1250s. The tablet is believed to have been written for the Hittites’ strongest king, Budahepa, and the goddess Hepata.

“The technique used during construction by the Hittites is the oldest one. While generally cement fillings are used in the dam making, the Hittites used clay.” Çınaroğlu said

Watering canals

Çınaroğlu said state waterworks had analyzed the area and the water that passed through was still clean and could be drunk. The water canals extended to the north and south of the city, said Çınaroğlu.

“These canals are on private lands. Our aim is to restore these canals and make them a part of the ancient city. The final aim is to open those canals to visitors.”

According to Çınaroğlu, the best thing to do is flow the waters through the canals for everyone to see.
“If we can open them then this means Alcahöyük will have another open air museum for itself,” he said adding that, “The dam alone does not mean anything, the important thing is combining this with the canals.”

Alacahöyük, which currently draws around 50,000 visitors a year, uncovers more clues like those found each year. The first excavations had started at the ancient site in 1907, and lasted only 15 days, and were then restarted in 1935 on the order of Atatürk. 

Çınaroğlu said that this year’s digs in Alacahöyük, which is known as Turkey’s first national excavation area, would begin next month, adding that the works would focus on following up the pieces that were found last year and proved that the first settlement was seen in the area much earlier than thought. In the light of data to be revealed during excavations, Çınaroğlu said they had previously estimated that housing dated back to 8,500 years ago in Alacahöyük, “But we had suspicions that it might date back to earlier times. Last year we began finding pieces from the Neolithic age, confirming our suspicions.

We could not have found a Neolithic settlement but objects that will shed light on this settlement. Thus we saw that housing dated back to 1,500 years earlier than we had known so far. This year we will focus on these objects and try to find the traces of this settlement.”

He said that their goal was to reach a Hittite layer in this year’s works, adding, “This is what we expect this year. We may find it or not. Or perhaps we will find it in future excavations. The objects that we found in the last years were a very good discovery. We don’t know yet what to find this year.”

Source: Hurriyet Daily News [July 17, 2013]

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