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PTERIA (mod. Boghaz Keui)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 605 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PTERIA (mod. Boghaz Keui), the ancient capital of the " White Syrians " of Cappadocia, which Croesus of Lydia is stated by Herodotus to have taken, enslaved and ruined, after he had declared war on the rising power of Persia and crossed the Halys (after the middle of the 6th century B.C.). Thereafter he fought a drawn battle near the city, and retired again across the river to his ultimate defeat and doom. Pteria is mentioned by no other ancient authority, but it is of great interest if, as seems highly probable, (1) its " White Syrian " inhabitants were what we call " Hittites " (q.v.), or at least, participants in the " Hittite civilization "; (2) its remains are to be seen in the immense prehistoric city and remarkable rock-sculptures near Boghaz Keui in Cappadocia, about roo m. east of Angora and beyond the Kizil Irmak (Halys). This is the chief " Hittite " site in Asia Minor, far superior in extent to either Euyuk or Giaur Kalesi, which seem to have been its dependencies, and a centre from which roads, marked by the occurrence of " Hittite " monuments, radiate towards Syria and the Aegean. Sir W. M. Ramsay has shown with great probability that it was the importance of Pteria and its bridge over the Halys which diverted the Persian " royal road " far to the north of its natural line. This road, in fact, followed an earlier main track whose ultimate objective had been different. The remains of Boghaz Keui are indubitably pre-Persian and pre-Greek. They consist of a large fortified city on a steep slope enclosed by two deep ravines, and falling to northward over 800 ft. from summit to base. The acropolis was strengthened with a circle of stone redoubts, between which led very narrow gateways, and with internal redoubts as well. Just inside what seems to have been its principal entrance is a rock face inscribed with nine lines of " Hittite " characters, greatly perished (Nishan Tash), and a similar inscription, equally illegible, can be detected on a neighbouring rock. Below the acropolis on the north-east is a residential quarter, containing large ruins of what seems to have been a palace or temple built round a central court. The whole site is surrounded by a strong wall, 14 ft. thick, with towers about loo ft. apart. The monument, however, which earliest rendered Boghaz Keui famous is the sculptured rock grotto, 1 m. to the east, called Yasili Kaya. Here two hypaethral galleries are adorned with reliefs in panels, the larger gallery showing two processions, which, starting on both walls from the entrance, meet at the head of the grotto. On the left wall are 45 figures, headed by a gigantic male figure, erect on the bent necks of two men. On the right wall he is opposed by a female of almost equal stature standing on a leopard or lioness, and followed by a young male with battle-axe, erect on a similar beast. Behind these are some 20 figures of mitred priests, &c. There can be no doubt that the female is the great Nature goddess of western Asia, attended by her spontaneously-generated son, with whose help she creates the world (see GREAT MOTHER OF THE GODS). Priests or minor divinities follow them. The other procession, according to the analogy of other monuments, should be composed of mortals bearing sacra and headed by their king, who makes offering or dedicates his city to, or engages in some mystic union with, the goddess. The figure following him seems to be that of his high priest. " Hittite " symbols are carved above many of the figures. Besides the processions there are five independent reliefs in the small gallery and its approach, one repeating the figure of the high priest. In 1906, as the result of the discovery of cuneiform tablets at Boghaz Keui by E. Chantre in 189o, a concession for the excavation of the site was obtained by the Berlin Oriental Society, and H. Winckler was sent to make a preliminary examination. He found a number of tablets in two languages, Babylonian and local, the latter being that of the Arzawa letters found at Tell el-Amarna. Among them was a cuneiform copy of the treaty made by Rameses II. in his loth year with the king of the Kheta, and inscribed on a wall at Karnak. In 1907 Winckler returned with O. Puchstein and others and made regular excavations, laying bare much of the fortifications and two temples, and finding inscribed monuments and many more tablets. From those written in Babylonian Winckler has established the fact that Boghaz Keui was the capital of a powerful Hatti dynasty from the middle of the 16th century B.c. to at least 1200 B.C. He claims further that its ancient name was Hatti. At the height of its power it ruled all Asia Minor down to the Aegean and northern Syria to the headwaters of the Orontes, and was also overlord of the Mitanni and the Amurri (Amarru) in Mesopotamia. It had continual relation on terms of equality with Egypt and Babylonia. The four kings of the Kheta, alluded to by name In Egyptian texts, have been identified with kings of Boghaz Keui. The decline of Hatti power began with the expansion of Assyria after Itoo B.C. and Cappadocia seems to have been inferior to Phrygia after the rise of the Midaean dynasty in the 9th and 8th centuries. It should be added that the identification of Boghaz Keui with the Pteria of Heroditus has not yet been confirmed, and the latter name has been claimed for a primitive site at Ak-alan near Samsun by Th. Makridi Bey, as the result of his excavations for the Constantinople Museum in 1907 (see HITTITES).
End of Article: PTERIA (mod. Boghaz Keui)
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