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Hittites: Biblical Builders

Cape Cod Stone Masonry Blog

If you read the Bible, you may know the Hittites as traders of cedar and horses in the Book of Kings and as friends of Abraham in Genesis. The Hittites also worked with stones of biblical proportions. Hittite masons built these impressive structures with imported granite at their capital city, Hattusa, sometime between 1650 - 1200 BC.

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We hope one of our customers commissions an imitation of this remarkable stonework. Cape Cod's native boulders have a similar range of colors as this Turkish Granite. We closely inspect every stone to avoid cracks, like the one visible on the bottom stone of the corner at left, down the road.

One of the great powers of the so-called bronze age, the Hittites owe some of their military success to their precocious use of iron and even steel tools. Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, is stronger than iron, but cannot be sharpened without being melted down. Steel, formed by adding carbon to iron, is superior to both in every respect. Steel tools likely helped the Hittite masons work granite, while most of their contemporaries were working softer limestone with stone tools.

Most of the granite stones, themselves, show less corrosion than limestone building blocks of the same period. However, these walls used to stand higher than they do today and much of the stonework has fallen. Closer inspection of this Hittite masonry reveals incomplete masonry bonds, also known as running joints (see below, to the right of the lion), not found in the better preserved and better engineered retaining walls of Troy. Moreover, the higher courses appear to be backed with earth rather than solid stonework. Still, the bottom courses have stood strong for over 3,000 years on the strength of their monumental size, tight fit, and structural orientation.

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Here's a neighboring Hittite fortress of similar construction at Yenicekale, which features a more rectangular coursing than the polygonal shapes at Hattusa.

Cape Cod Stone Masonry Blog


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