Hama is the modern day name of the old Hamath which in mid-14th century BCE came under Hittite rule after Suppiluliuma's Syrian campaign. After the fall of the Hittite Empire it was an independent Late Hittite kingdom in the 10th and 9th centuries BCE. Later it came under Aramean rulers, although Late Hittite/Luwian culture of the city must have continued for a while. By the time it was invaded in 720 BCE, Assyrian king Sargon II was referring to the city's ruler as the "wicked Hittite".
Several monumental blocks with hieroglyphic Luwian inscriptions that date from 9th century have been found in and around Hama. Four of the inscribed stones were found in the walls of some buildings (HAMA 1-4). They are among the very first artifacts that attracted the modern day researchers to the existence of a Hittite civilization and language. The stones were first noted in 1812 by J. L. Burckhardt although he did not pay them much of an attention. In 1870 they were noticed by American travellers J. A. Johnson ve S. Jessup, but locals believed the stones had mystical powers and would not tolerate anybody moving them. In 1972 they were moved to the museum in Istanbul by Dr. W. Wright with the help of the new governor of the area. The texts on the blocks are building inscriptions of the kings of Hamath, Urahilina and his son Uratami. Urahilina must be the same person as Irhuleni known from Assyrian sources as the king of Hamath and one of the leaders of the Syrian coalition who faced Shalmaneser III at the battle of Qarqar in 853 BCE.
Other similar blocks found in 1958 and 1970 are currently in Hama Museum (HAMA 6-7). HAMA 8 is known only by a photograph obtained from an antiquities dealer. HINES, another building inscription of the type of Urahilina, was found in 1924 in northern Iraq, but given its pecularities Hawkins suspects it to be an antique copy from another Hama stele. Restan, Qalat el Mudiq, and Tall ṭīb are other locations where inscriptions of Urahilina have been found.
Several orthostats and gate lions dating to the Hittite era were excavated during Danish excavations in 1931-1938 at Hama citadel. Most of the finds are in Hama Museum and some of the smaller fragments are in National Museum, Copenhagen.
Click on the pictures for larger images.
||HAMA 2 ||HAMA 3
||Gate lions and others
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Hawkins, J. D. Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Vol 1, Berlin, 2000: 398-423 and Plts. 213-235.
Orthmann, W. Untersuchungen zur späthethitischen Kunst, Bonn, 1971.
Payne, A. Iron Age Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions, Atlanta, 2012: 61-65.
Riis, P.J. and M. L. Buhl. Hama II.2 - Les objets de la période dite syro-hittite (âge du fer), Copenhagen, 1990.
Bora Bilgin, 2006.
J. David Hawkins, 2000.
Ignace J. Gelb. Hittite Hieroglyphic Monuments Chicago, 1939.
Dick Osseman, 2009.
Harald Ingolt, AJA 46, 1942.