Biblical Archaeology Review 37:1, January/February 2011



This tiny yet delicately crafted gold amulet less than 2 inches high depicts an enthroned Hittite goddess. A large disk-shaped halo representing the sun surrounds her deeply furrowed, mature face. She is dressed in a full, body-length gown, her only adornment a pair of large loop earrings and a simple necklace. Seated on the goddess’s lap and nestled safely between her arms is a small child, firmly posed with back upright and arms crossed. The two are regally seated on a throne decorated with four lion paws.

Although many aspects of Hittite religion remain mysterious, this amulet, which dates to the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.E.) and the height of the Hittite empire, likely represents the traditional Anatolian sun goddess, sometimes called Wurusemu, holding an infant child, presumably one of her divine children. In Hittite mythology and royal inscriptions, the sun goddess was the guardian of the land of Hatti and served as protectress and champion of the Hittite kings. In a dedicatory hymn, the Hittite king Hattushili IV (c. 1267–1237 B.C.E.) calls the sun goddess “the queen of heaven and earth” and “the light of the country of Hatti.” Her major cultic sanctuary was located at Arinna, a place many identify with the modern-day site of Alacahöyük, about 15 miles northeast of the Hittite capital of Hattusha.

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