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Hittite royal seal found in Büklükale warns ‘Whoever breaks this will die’

During excavations in Büklükale, which is thought to have served as an important military base for the Hittites, a seal belonging to the Hittite royal family was unearthed. The inscription “He who breaks dies” on the seal attracted attention.

Büklükale is located about 100 kilometers southeast of Ankara, on the banks of the Kızılırmak River, near the village of Köprüköy in the Karakeçili district.

Surveys have shown that the heyday of Büklükale was during the Hittite Empire.

In the excavations, which lasted 14 years under the presidency of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kimiyoshi Matsumura, findings from the Hittite period were found.

In the 2023 excavation season, the team found a cuneiform seal impression from the Hittite Empire period.

Hittitologists read the cuneiform on the seal. According to the experts, the seal reads “He who breaks this will die”, indicating that those who violate agreements will be punished.

Hittite-Royal-Cuneiform-Seal-Warns
Photo: IHA

Since Hittite Laws generally prescribe fines or compensation instead of the death penalty or corporal punishment as sanctions for an offense, this seal is quite remarkable in terms of showing the importance of the agreement.

Kırşehir Ahi Evran University Archaeology Department Faculty Member and Head of Excavation Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kimiyoshi Matsumura stated that Büklükale was an important city during the Hittite Empire. Matsumura stated that this seal used by the king and queen was found during the excavations carried out last year.

Giving information about the seal, Matsumura said, “There is cuneiform writing on this seal. On the seal, the Great King Tabarna (Sovereign King) or Tavananna (Sovereign Queen) writes ‘Whoever breaks this will die’.”

“These seals were usually stamped on contracts, stating that if something was done against the contract, it would be penalized. The king and queen from Hattusa sent something here. This shows that this city was in intensive relations between Hattusa and the royal family,” he said.

Hittite bulla
Photo: IHA

Matsumura said, “Hurrian tablets have recently been found in Büklükale. The discovery of Hurrian tablets shows that religious ceremonies were held here. It is known that these ceremonies were performed by the Hittite royal family, king or queen. In that respect, it is also thought that the Hittite king came here or resided here. All these show that Büklükale is an important city in the Hittite Empire.”

During this year’s excavations, a terracotta seal impression with a motif was found in several pieces. The meaning of the seal impression will be clarified after the examination by experts.

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