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The mystery of the wishing stone in the Hittite Empire

The nephrite monolith in the Great Temple of Hattusa: possible religious meanings and unsolved mysteries.

The stone is made of nephrite.
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The stone is made of nephrite.

In the remains of the Great Temple of Hattusa, located in modern-day Turkey, there is an interesting peculiarity: an imposing nephrite monolith carved in the shape of a cube. This stone, known as the “wishing stone ” by local inhabitants, was found among the remains of the Hittite empire, which established itself in the region around 2000 BC, emerging as one of the dominant powers of the Middle East by 1340 BC.

The Hittite capital, Hattusa, reached its peak with an estimated population of 40,000 to 50,000 people and was characterized by numerous temples, royal residences and impressive fortifications. However, over the course of several decades around 1200 BC, the city was gradually abandoned. Despite this, many buildings have survived to the present day, including the Great Temple and the mysterious nephrite monolith.

The green stone, as highlighted by archaeologist Andreas Schachner in 2019, clearly distinguishes itself from other stones present in the archaeological site, thus attracting great interest. It is a monolith of serpentinite or nephrite, a variety of jade common in the region. Although it is not a particularly rare stone, its monolithic structure is noteworthy.

Hypotheses on the possible religious significance of the stone were fueled by the presence of widespread cults in the Hittite Empire, as evidenced by the finds from the nearby settlement of Alaca Höyük. According to archaeologist Damien Stone in his book “The Hittites: Lost Civilizations,” ancient Hittite documents suggest that the site may have been dedicated to a Sun goddess, with Arinna, the city of the Sun goddess, as the most likely candidate, although not inscriptions confirming this hypothesis have yet to be found.

Despite the abundance of nephrite in the region, the lack of similar finds casts doubt on the stone's true importance. Its ultimate purpose remains shrouded in mystery, with the possibility that it simply functioned as a base for a statue. Unless significant new discoveries are made on the site or in the surrounding areas, it is likely that the stone's true purpose will never be fully understood. What is certain, however, is that he never fulfilled any wishes.

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