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The Hittite royal seal

Hittite Royal Seal Found in Büklükale Warns ‘Whoever Breaks This Will Die’

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During extensive excavations in Büklükale, a historically significant site believed to have served as a crucial military base for the Hittites, archaeologists unearthed a remarkable seal belonging to the Hittite royal family. The inscription on the seal, “He who breaks this will die,” has drawn considerable attention, highlighting the grave importance the Hittites placed on agreements and contracts, reports Anatolian Archaeology. 

Location and Historical Significance 

Büklükale is situated approximately 67 miles (100 km) southeast of Ankara, on the banks of the Kızılırmak River near the village of Köprüköy in the Karakeçili district. Archaeological surveys indicate that Büklükale flourished during the height of the Hittite Empire. For 14 years, under the leadership of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kimiyoshi Matsumura, excavations have consistently revealed artifacts from this period. 

Ongoing excavations at Büklükale. 

Ongoing excavations at Büklükale. (İhlas News Agency) 

The Seal and Its Inscription 

In the 2023 excavation season, the team discovered a cuneiform seal impression from the Hittite Empire period. Hittitologists, specialists in the Hittite language and culture, deciphered the cuneiform inscription on the seal. The seal's message, “He who breaks this will die,” underscores the severe consequences for violating agreements in the ancient civilization, writes TGRT Haber. 

Fragments of the seal.  

Fragments of the seal. (Ihlas News Agency) 

Significance of the Seal 

The seal’s inscription is particularly noteworthy because Hittite laws typically imposed fines or compensation rather than the death penalty for offenses. This seal, therefore, illustrates the exceptional importance of the agreement it was meant to protect. The seal, used by the king and queen, was found during last year's excavations and is a testament to the intensive relations between Büklükale and the Hittite capital, Hattusa. 

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kimiyoshi Matsumura, head of the excavation team and a faculty member of Kırşehir Ahi Evran University's Archaeology Department, emphasized the importance of Büklükale during the Hittite Empire. Matsumura explained: 

“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.’” 


Context of the Seal’s Use 

These seals were typically stamped on contracts to signify that any breach of the agreement would result in severe penalties. The discovery of such a seal at Büklükale suggests that the city was an essential hub of interaction between Hattusa and the royal family. Matsumura also noted that recent findings of Hurrian tablets at Büklükale indicate the occurrence of religious ceremonies conducted by the Hittite royal family, reinforcing the city's significance. 

Recent Discoveries and Future Research 

In addition to the royal seal, this year’s excavations unearthed a terracotta seal impression with a motif, found in several pieces. The precise meaning and significance of this seal impression will be determined after further examination by experts. 

The discovery of the royal seal and the ongoing archaeological efforts at Büklükale continue to shed light on the historical and cultural importance of this site. The artifacts uncovered offer valuable insights into the governance, legal systems, and religious practices of the Hittite Empire, enriching our understanding of this ancient civilization. 

Top image: The Hittite royal seal discovered in Büklükale. Source: Ihlas News Agency 

Gary Manners's picture


Gary is an editor and content manager for Ancient Origins. He has a BA in Politics and Philosophy from the University of York and a Diploma in Marketing from CIM. He has worked in education, the educational sector, social work... Read More

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