Comparison of Salat Tepe Ritual Contexts with Hittite-Hurrian Ritual Texts

Kıymet K.

OLBA, vol.26, pp.41-95, 2018 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 26
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Journal Name: OLBA
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.41-95
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


Salat Tepe is located ca. 25km east of Bismil, Diyarbakir. Salvage excavations have been carried out in the mound between the years 2000-2013. The site will be flooded by the Ilisu Dam. The settlement history of Salat Tepe begins in the Early Chalcolithic Period. Five main periods defined by gaps have been determined from the 5th Millennium BCE to CE 19th century. The mound has been abandoned after the Early Bronze Age I and was resettled in the Early Bronze Age IV. A settlement continuity has been determined from ca. 2400-1400 BCE; the Early Bronz Age IV (Period IIA: Level 6-5), Middle Bronze Age I-II (Period IIB: Level 4-3) and Late Bronze Age I (Period IIC: Level 2-1). Salat Tepe has been once more abandoned towards the middle of the Late Bronze Age and was resettled in the Early Iron Age. The traces of some ritual activities, such as animal bones showing bloody sacrifice and ritual objects showing bloodless sacrifice, have been found during the excavations carried out in the mound. The animal bones belong to piglet, puppy, deer, lamb and cattle, and the objects used during rituals are made mainly of clay and of stone and metal. These objects have been found in fills on thresholds, in pits dug under foundations, and in pits dug into fills. Some animal bones were placed into bowls. These rituals were probably performed according to some needs. The settlement at Salat Tepe shows multiple traces of fire and earthquake in several levels. Thus, the destruction caused by earthquakes might have forced the inhabitants to perform foundation rituals for securing their new dwellings they wished to use for a long time. These rituals "close" former levels or convert the function of buildings. It is possible to compare the Hittite-Hurrian cuneiform texts with the archaeological finds of Salat Tepe. Although most of the Hittite texts appear after the end of the Middle Bronze Age I settlement in Salat Tepe, these texts include a long tradition; thus, a substantial part of similarities between the cuneiform texts and archaeological finds are determined. This gives us the chance of a better comprehension of the archeological material. In this respect, magical texts are significant sources, since numerous sacrifice pits like those in Salat Tepe bear bloody and bloodless sacrifices. According to Hittite-Hurrian cuneiform texts, the main element regarding sacrifices is the pit. Bird and pig are primarily sacrificed, and piglet is the most preferred sacrificion at Salat Tepe. Although no remains resembling burning of birds are detected at Salat Tepe, several burned animal bones are recovered in level 5. The sacrificed piglets in bowls placed face down in levels 4 and 2 resemble the sacrificion between rooms A and B at Yazilikaya. Ritual traces are also determined in pits dug under foundations. According to Hittite-Hurrian texts many offerings had been placed under foundations, and many ritual objects made of paste, clay and metal had been placed in sacrificial pits. Within these objects clay figurines, and models of ears and ladders made of silver take place. In Salat Tepe, mainly human and animal figurines were used during rituals. In this study, the possible relations of Salat Tepe rituals with Hurrian rituals will be handled. Hittite ritual texts with Hurrian influence show obvious similarities to the ritual activities in Salat Tepe. According to the cuneiform texts, Hurrians lived in North Mesopotamia together with Semitic societies from the Akkadian period onwards.