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Mysterious Tunnel Unearthed in the Legendary Capital of the Hittites

Mysterious Tunnel Unearthed in the Legendary Capital of the Hittites

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Archeologists announced the discovery of an ancient tunnel, which is located in Alacahöyük, one of the most important centers of the Hittite Empire - Hattusa. It is one of the most important excavation fields of modern Turkey.

According to Hurriyet Daily, the tunnel is 2,300-years-old and it was a secret passageway known as potern. The excavations are led by Professor Aykut Çınaroğlu from Ankara University, along with a team of 24 researchers. They discovered a tunnel during the works on a sanctuary unearthed in 2014. Moreover, the discovery confirms that more than one secret tunnel existed in Hattusa. As Çınaroğlu said:

''This new potern proves the existence of other poterns in Alacahöyük. We are carrying out excavations right now; we have not finished yet. We started from the gate opening to the sanctuary, trying to open it. This is a potern from nearly 2,300 years ago. We have dug 23 meters so far but think that it is longer. Cleaning work is continuing, too. We will see what we will find in the end. Poterns were placed under the castle, extending into the city. We have previously found a cuneiform tablet here, featuring a king who explains to priests what to do during ceremonies. This secret tunnel might have had a sacred function.''

Alacahoyuk potern

Alacahoyuk potern (

The researchers said that the discovery was very exciting for the team, and they are going to continue excavations in the new season.

The site of Hattusa was discovered in 1835 by W.C. Hamilton, but the first regular excavations did not take place until 1907, carried out by Ottoman archaeologist Makridi Bey. Work was continued in 1935, during the rule of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. In 1997, Professor Çınaroğlu became the director of the campaign.

Hattusa is a site full of treasures, which is mentioned in history books due to the rich correspondence between the Hittite king and other rulers like the pharaohs of Egypt. The site contains many important places, including the pre-Hittite royal tombs, dating to 3,000 B.C., and have yielded stunning artifacts such as weapons, gold and silver containers and jewelry, animal sculptures made of bronze and clay, chairs, gold brooches, belt buckles, and gold leaf-covered figures. One of the most famous symbols of the Alacahöyük site is the Sphinx Gate at the south of the city, which consists of two great sphinxes facing outward, which are dated back to the 1,400 BC.

The Sphinx gate at Alacahöyük

The Sphinx gate at Alacahöyük (public domain)

Last year, Turkish archeologists had discovered another Hittite tunnel. April Holloway from Ancient Origins reported in October 20, 2015, that researchers had discovered a secret tunnel built by the Hittites around four millennia ago, which was used all the way through to the Seljuk era (11th – 12th century AD):

''Excavations being carried out at Geval Castle in Central Anatolia, Turkey, have revealed a secret tunnel that had been built by the Hittites about 4,000 years ago.  Around 150 meters of the tunnel, which had been closed off with a vault, have been investigated so far.

Ancient tunnel found inside Geval Castle.

Ancient tunnel found inside Geval Castle. (Konya Life)

Geval Castle sits on the peak of Takkel Mountain at an altitude of 1,700 meters, just 7 kilometers west of Konya, the seventh most populous city in Turkey, and once home to many civilizations during the Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, Karamanids and Ottoman eras. Its strategic position, with a 360-degree view of the surrounding area, reveals Geval Castle’s key role as a defensive structure in the region.

The Hittites were an ancient Anatolian people who established an empire in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After 1180 BC, the empire came to an end during the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until the 8th century BC.''

Top image: The newly discovered Hittite tunnel (

By Natalia Klimzcak



Hugo Winckler was excavating the site together with Makridi Bey.

I believe there is a misprint that everyone is using. It's supposed to be a 3300 yr old tunnel, not 2300 yrs old. Check your own article to back this up.


Natalia Klimczak is an historian, journalist and writer and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Languages, University of Gdansk. Natalia does research in Narratology, Historiography, History of Galicia (Spain) and Ancient History of Egypt, Rome and Celts. She... Read More

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