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Religion in Samuha during the Hittite period Leonard, Timothy


Šamuḫa was an ancient cultic center and regional capital in the Hittite state. Thanks to recently excavated texts, Šamuḫa can be securely identified with an archaeological site near the village of Kayalıpınar on the Kızılırmak river, in Yıldızeli district, Sivas province, Turkey. Šamuḫa was occupied since at least the early Middle Bronze Age, and it was an important site in the Assyrian trade network. Šamuḫa was an administrative center in the border region during the reign of Telipinu (ca. 1500 BCE), and served as the de facto capital of the Hittite state during the reign of Tudḫaliya III (ca. 1370 BCE). Unfortunately, we have very little information about religion in Šamuḫa prior to the Hittite period. Our knowledge of the local religious practices has increased dramatically since excavations began in Kayalıpınar in 2005. As throughout the Hittite state, their religion was polytheistic and pluralistic. Hittite texts frequently record multiple variants or local hypostases of an archetypal deity (e.g. the Storm-god of the city of Nerik). The Hittites revered anthropomorphic gods as well as natural features (such as rivers and mountains), and sometimes even divinized artificial objects. Deities worshipped in Šamuḫa came from Anatolian, Hurrian, Syrian and Mesopotamian cultural backgrounds, including divinities of local importance, major deities of the Hittite state (such as the Sun-goddess of Arinna), and gods adopted from foreign cultures. The most important figures in the local pantheon of Šamuḫa were female deities. The original patron deity of the city was a goddess named Abara. During the Hittite Empire period (ca. 1350-1200 BCE) Abara was superseded in importance by the goddess Ištar, who was most often referred to by the Hurrian divine name Šawoška. One hypostasis of Ištar called the Goddess of the Night was brought to Šamuḫa from the region of Kizzuwatna (classical Cilicia), most likely during the reign of Tudḫaliya I (ca. 1400 BCE). The Goddess of the Night was closely associated with the Elamite goddess Pirinkir. Another important goddess in the city was Ištar of the Field of Šamuḫa. Ištar of Šamuḫa was the patron deity of the late Empire period king Ḫattušili III (ca. 1280 BCE). The pantheon of Šamuḫa also included multiple hypostases of the Storm-god, such as Teššob of Šamuḫa, the Storm-god of Lightning, and Teššob of Aleppo, along with his consort Ḫebat of Aleppo. The recently discovered cultic inventory text KpT 1.36 mentions a previously unknown deity named the Glorious Sun-deity of the Field.

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