The Birth of the Hittite King and the New Year (Note on the Hassumas Festival)*

Among the Hittite festivals (EZEN) a great interest is attributed to a fairly well preserved description of the rite called hassumas ^"hassumas). It was published in authography by H.-G.Giiterbock with co-authors in 1944 (IBoT I, 29), the text is dated to the"Middle Hittite Empire[60][61][62] In 1960asmall duplicate to IBoTl, 29 was also found (fragment 141/s).

Guterbock, in his lecture at a session of the American Oriental Society, gave a short survey of the hassumas and expounded his viewpoint regarding the designation of this rite". The transliteration of a series of lines of the document is attached to Guterbock's publication (obv. 1-5, 18-38, 50, 53-54, rev. 17-18, 33-43, 46-56). The hill publication of tins text is being prepared by H Hoffner[63].

As has been remarked by Giiterbock, the text of the haSSumaS available to us is the first tablet of the description. In this part four days of the undoubtedly more protracted festival is described.

The hassumaf in any case, took place in the course of four days in the Hittite capital, since at the beginning of the text (obv. 2) Hattusa is mentioned Similarly here (obv 4) the Hittite king is also mentioned whom, however, we do not meet any more in the description of the four days of the festival. The ceremonies of the four days of the hassumas were performed by the prince.

The basic content of the rite is formed by the description of "the circumambulation by the prince of a series of ritual localities, especially of the "house of the cook"( luMUHALDIM obv. 18, 39, 54), of the arzana house Carzana obv. 29, 50; rev. 29, 46)[64], of the temple of the goddess Queen''( AKatah- ha obv. 35, rev. 42) and of the bath house ( DU]0.US.SA rev. 24-27). The circumambulation of each place, especially of the house of the cook, and of the arzana house, was followed by the organization of a "feast

Eating and feasting were predominant during the whole time of the hassumas[65].

Thus, on the second day of the festival, the prince went into the house of the cook and asked for food (obv. 18). In front of the prince twelve priests were placed (including the priest of the Storm-god, the man of the Storm-god. the priest of the Gram-god. the priest of the god of war King of the land, the priest of the god Telepinu, the priest of the goddess of the throne Halmasuitta, two priests of Zilipuri, and the priest of the god Hasamili: cf. obv. 19-22).

The lines containing the enumeration of the priests among whom only one is the priest of a real Hittite deity (that of the Grain-god llHalki, whose name is a translation of the name of the Hattie goddess dKait), and all the others are priests of deities of Hattie origin[66] are fragmentary. However, the preserved list also shows that together with the twelve priests, obviously, also two other groups of people connected with the temple were sitting, e.g.: the herald, the man of the spear, the cup-bearer, the table

man, and others (see obv. 22-23), and the blacksmith of the deity, three men of the temple, three ploughmen (ibidem, line 24)[67][68].

Before starting the ritual feast in the house of the cook, the prince drank" three times, the goddess Queen", the Sun-deity and the deity of the defence of the king (obv. 27). Hereafter he went round (irhai-) each deity (obv. 28), he sat down to eaf and to feed the gods (obv. 29).

From the house of the cook the prince went over to the ar- zana. Here, with five warm loaves, ten wet (softened) and ten sweet loaves, seven takarma loaves[69], with one measure of wine and one measure of marnuwa beer, he went round the goddess Queen ", the Storm-god of the city Ziplanda, the Storm-god and the Sun-deity (obv. 29-32).

The prince drank" three times the Sun-deity' and stood up. Different kinds of food, wine and marnuwa were placed again before him (obv. 33-35).

Thereafter the prince proceeded to the temple of the goddess Queen and asked for food. In front of the prince twelve ploughmen (lu rneAPIN.LAL) were placed and the prince fed the deities (obv. 35-36). The second day of the hassumas ended with the ceremony carried out by the ploughmen. They took the yokes lying before the deity, harnessed one team of ritually clean bulls and drove them to the fallow (obv. 37-38).

On the third day the ceremony took place again in the house of the cook, and it was offered to the goddess Ariniti. To the house of the cook different kinds of bread and beverages were brought and placed before the hearth. Before the hearth one bull and six sheep were sacrificed to the goddess Ariniti. The animals were slaughtered and divided into parts (liver, brisket, [shoulder parts], heads, hides, legs, ritually pure meat: obv. 39^10). Certain parts of the animals sacrificed, thus for example the livers, were fried and offered to all the gods. The prince sacrificed marnuwa and went round the goddess Ariniti and all deities (obv. 46-47). Hereafter the livers were cut into pieces, the warm and the wet (softened) loaves were divided and were distributed to every participant of the rite. The participants of the rite ate and drank beer (obv. 49).

From the house of the cook the prince went over to the ar- zana and asked for food. They brought here five warm loaves, ten wet (softened) and ten barley loaves, twelve sweet loaves, ten loaves takarma, two handfuls of groats, two measures of milk, one loaf in a vessel, vessels with beer and beer marnuwa. In front of the prince all the priests were placed (obv. 50-53). Here, however, no common feast took place.

For the ritual feast the priests were invited to the house of the cook. For the priests and separately for the prince tables were set up. On each table bread was placed, obviously the portion of each priest (obv. 54-58). And the prince "drank twelve times the deities of Hattie origin (whose names have been partly preserved in the text obv.


The arrangement of tables for the participants of the rite is mentioned in the beginning of the reverse side of the tablet containing the description of the haSSumaS. On these tables they placed one small loaf for each participant, as well as thirteen wet (softened), and twelve other loaves, beer and beer marnuwa were distributed among certain participants of the rite (obv. 10-16).

At the time of this ceremony in front of the hearth (= altar) a millstone was placed and the prince together with the anointed priest, the man of the inner chamber, the barber and the brick moulders turned the mill. Then they circumambulated (weh) the

hearth (= altar) and sang a song devoted to the goddess Arimti (rev. 17-23).

Hereafter the offering of sacrifices took place in the inner chamber of the bath house (rev. 23-24) and in the arzana house. The ceremony in the arzana occupied the third day of the rite (see rev. 28-32).

The fourth day of the haSSumaS started with a morning feast (rev. 33-35). Hereafter (rev. 35-36) the "anointed priest offered sacrifices to the hesta (= the House of the Dead). Here he carried out the ceremony consecrated to the twelve deities (and he himself these twelve deities drinks twelve times rev. 37).

At this time the participants of the rite took out the he-goat, slaughtered it and then ate it. They stripped a blind man to the skin, probably threw on him the hide of the eaten he-goat, beat the blind man and drove him into the hesta. And here in the House of the Dead they arranged the ritual feast (rev. 33-41).

Perhaps the prince also took part in this ceremony (cf. rev. 41). And wrhen the feast came to an end in the hesta, the prince proceeded to the temple of the goddess Queen. Here the prince carried out the offering of the sacrifice (rev. 42-45), and then he went to the arzana, The prince asked for food. Upon his request three warm loaves, ten wet (softened), ten barley and ten sweet loaves, as well as three handfuls of groats, two measures of milk and two vessels with beer were brought. In front of the prince twelve prostitutes were placed. And they ate and drank. On this night they cleaned the prince and then they put him to bed. At this time they placed two thick loaves each on both sides of his head and at his feet (rev. 46-54). Hereafter they poured out beer around him. By this act the fourth day of the festival came to an end (rev. 54-55).

As it was presumed by H .G.Gtiterbock, tins ceremony of the hassumas festival gives the clue to the nature of the text and thereby to the meaning of its title: it is the festival of procreating by which these women... prostitutes, initiate the prince into adult life10. According to the opinion of H.G.Gtiterbock this meaning of the ceremony tallies also with the name of the haSSumaS festival, which is the genitive of the gerund of the verb has = "to procreate, beget, give birth[70].


[9, p. 101].

HG Guterbock also refers to other ceremonies taking place at the hassumas festival (the ritual of ploughing, the grinding of the gram, the driving of the blind man to the hesta), and presumes that they were also connected with the initiation of the prince[71]

For the clarification of the meaning of the hassumas it appears to be expedient to collate the ceremonies of this festival, as well as the rite as a whole, with other Hittite rites and to compare them with the typologically similar material. The typological collations are possible because of the presence of semiotic universals, which can help in the interpretation of the old text, the latter, on the other hand, is important for the dating of the oldest examples of the corresponding universal phenomenon[72].

Thus, certain acts taking place at the hassumas festival, especially those on which H.G Guterbock based his hypothesis, permit the assumption that the haSSumaS is a spring festival.

The connection of the hassumas festival with the spring can be shown by the ceremony of the grinding of grain carried out by the prince together with certain other participants of the rite. The grinding and milling of the gram (Hittite malla= and harra-) are the characteristic acts of the Hittite spring festivals[73][74].

The ceremony taking place with the yoking of bulls, which mall probability' symbolizes a ritual ploughing, can also point to the spring character of the hal&itmaS'5. The ceremonies of the first furrow were present in the traditions of many peoples of the

world and took place usually in the spring season, the time of the beginning of the agricultural work (cf. especially the handing over of the plough by the priests together with twelve bulls, in the old Indian rite rajasuya, (cf on it below), to be traced back to the rite of ploughing)[75].

It is also interesting that one of the ceremonies of the haSSumaS took place in the House of the Dead. Similarly, the carrying out of the ceremonies in the hesta is characteristic of the spring festival AN.TAH.SUM, of the Hittite New Years festival w/purulliya of Hattie origin.

hi connection with the reflection of the cult of the ancestors in the hassumas (cf. also the offering of sacrifices to the statues of the Hittite kings, who became gods, arranged on the AN.TAH.SUM and on other festivities, and which are collated with the ceremonies of the queen on the nuntariyasha for the Sun-goddesses of the city of Arinna i.e. for the dead Hittite queens)[76], the question arises about the symbolism of the ceremony of the driving of the blind man to the House of the Dead.

For the elucidation of this ceremony it is obviously essential that the blind man appears in the role of the scapegoat. Just as in the traditions of certain peoples of the world, it is possible that the blind man appeared in the Hittite ceremony as the embodiment of darkness and death[77]. Since in the festival AN.TAH.SUM we also find the ceremony of the bringing of the God (in the form of some symbols) to the hesta, interpreted bv HGGhterbock as a rite symbolizing the burial of the old year[78], it can be presumed that the blind man symbolized the death of the Old Year.

It is not excluded that this ceremony of the festival hassumas is similar typologically to the old Roman ceremony mamuralia. It included the act that a man dressed in a hide was driven out from the city with strokes of a stick; his name sounded as Ma-

murius Veturius, and usually this is interpreted as the old Mars. In the Mamuralia the driving out of the winter and the old year is obviously symbolized'0.

In the rite of the hassumas also two characteristics can be distinguished, which render possible the elucidation of the designation of this rite. First, attention is drawn to the circumstance that in the haSSumaS the number twelve played a special role (twelve priests, twelve ploughmen, twelve prostitutes, twelve gods, who very likely are in close connection with each other). Here twelve, especially in connection with gods, is used as the number of parts of the whole, all the gods (cf. also twelve gods in KUB XXXV, 145,1, 10'1; the motive ofall the gods in the Hittite myths, the feeding of all the gods and of ritual places with water, wine and beer, KUB X, 91, II, 1; III, 4). Twelve, as the number of parts of the whole, can be collated with the offering of thirteen loaves to the thirteen gods of Hattie origin and of twelve loaves to the tivelve Kanesian (= Hittite) gods in the description of the Hittite festival of month (CTH 591. KUB II, 13,1, 14, 28-39, 48, III, 16-27, IV, 1-3). In this description, the twelve gods very' likely represented the number of parts of the whole, viz. the twelve months of the year, on the probable division of the year in the Hittite tradition into 12 months cf. KUB XVII, 35, IV, 3: When the twelfth month of the year commences, KUB XLII, 100, III, 20: twelve half measures of ground tarsan (grain) for the twelve monthly festivals, the different numbers of months thirteen and twelve can be explained with the fact that 13 = 12 + 1, in which the thirteenth extra element, obviously, represents newborn month, cf ibidem, KUB II, 13, I, 15, one sacrificed loaf under the designation moon 1 n'ni3armatmi5'. it is not excluded, however, that the difference in the number of the months of the year is connected with the difference in the months of the lunar and solar calendars.

The number twelve, as the number of parts of the whole (of the pantheon, of the year) can also be connected with the twelve [79][80]

parts of man and of the sacrificial animal, in accordance with the idea reflected in the Hittite and Luvian rites (cf enumeration of the parts of the sacrificial animal, eg. the head, throat, ear, thigh, finger, nail (on the finger), rib (side), sexual parts, foot, bone, tendon, blood)[81].

The special role of the number twelve in the hassumas and in other rites (cf. also the prescription, treaty"; for the guards, according to which at the inner wall of the palace twelve guards, the highest number of bodyguards, had to be on guard IBoT I, 36, I, 10-15), can obviously be collated with the similar Indo-European material. In this connection, the Old Indian conceptions of the year as an image consisting of parts, of the identity of the whole and the parts of the year, of the universe, the world tree and man (sacrifice)[82][83][84] are important; cf. also the twelve stages of the creation of the world in the Iranian tradition and the number twelve as the number of the parts of the year and of the tree in other Indo-European traditions"4, cf also the twelve Roman priests (incarnation of year), carrying out the circum- ambulation of the fields with animals on the Ambravalia, every year in May"; cf. the round of the fields with the Poles connected with the celebration of spring coming (zielone swiqtki) with the queen"" accompanied by 6 to 12 ladies-in-attendance (mar- szalki), and the ceremony in which the marszal, twelve shepherds, twelve girls with flowers, twelve young shepherds, etc. parti cipated)[85].

The possible typological identity of the data from the descriptions of Hittite rites with the conceptions especially reflected in the Old Indian texts is supported, also by the perception of the territory of the empire as kings body in ancient India[86] and with the Hittites[87]

Secondly, it is essential that the ceremonies of the four days of the haSSumaS were directed by the prince. He, as has been seen above, circumambulated the following premises: (on the second day) the house of the cook, the arzana house, the temple of the goddess Queen; (on the third day) the house of the cook, the ar- zana house, die house of the cook, the bath house, the arzana house, (on the fourth day) the hesta, the arzana house. The perambulations of these premises, during which the prince frequently returned to the starting-points, and which were connected with the circumambulation of the gods (irhai=, cf. also the circumambulation (weh-) of the hearth (= altar)), remind us of the tour of the king, partly together with the queen, through the Hrttite cities on the festivals AN.TAH.SUM and mtntariyaSha, which meant the tour through the whole territory' (in particular all the four regions of the world) of the Hittite Empire (and which were combined with the circumambulation (weh=) of temples, of the palace (halentuwa) and with the perambulation (irhai=) of the ritual places; cf also die enumeration of the telipnri by the herald in VBoT 68, , 2-14, 17-19, III, 4-9, reproducing the symbolic circumambulation of these by the king and the similar going round the storehouses gates on the KI LAM-festival[88] of temples on the festival (h)iSuwa XV, 37,1, 5 6 and so forth). They can be collated with the possibly universal ceremonies of going round and circulation, to be found in the most different traditions.

Among the numerous illustrations of such ceremonies, for collation witii die data of the Hittite rites, special interest can be attributed not so much to the circulation and going round as magic acts, an archaic layer of popular cultic character[89], but rather to the goings round as acts representing the compulsory (syncretic: symbolic and social) functions of the kings (leaders)[90].

In each premise circumambulated by the prince, he offered sacrifices, just like the king, going round during the festivals, and offered sacrifices to the gods. It is of special interest that the animals, other products and beverages that we call sacrifices, on the basis of our present notion, in the rite haSSumaS are called "food, beverage", breakfast"(qdanna, akuwanna, waganna, literally to eat", to drink", to breakfast").

Thus, when the prince, carry ing out the round, went into the premise, he asked for food. The food that was brought to him, at the same time served also as sacrifice. With this food (= sacrifice)" they fed the gods, it was eaten and drunk by the prince and by all the other participants of the rite. The tallying of food" and sacrifice" is characteristic not only of the rite hassumas or of other rites, in which the prince participated, but very' likely also of all the Hittite festivities[91].

The participation of the prince in the Hittite festivals, sometimes obviously as the head of the rite, is a tradition that is reflected in the texts from the Old Hittite period (see XX, 11, II, 10). This tradition was possibly inherited from the Haitians since the texts of certain rites, in which the son"[92], obviously the prince, played a special role, were translated into Hittite from the Hattie language. Among the descriptions of such rites we can find texts in old hand writing (cf. KUB XLIII, 27, XXV, 112, parallel with the texts published earlier).

On the festival AN TAH SUM, when the king and the queen in Hattusa carried out the ceremonies in the temple of the deity Hannu, they sent the prince to the temple of the Storm-god. In this sanctuary he performed the festival hatauri (see X, 20. II, 40-43, etc ). The prince conducted certain ceremonies also on the mintaryasha festival (XIV, 76,1, 7; KUB IX, 16, I, 5). He appears in the winter rite of the king and the queen, consecrated to the Sun-deity'(KUB II, 6, II, 4-5).

In the Hittite rites the prince acted similarly to the king. Sitting or standing he drank the gods or in some cases he drank to the gods, hi the ceremony musicians and singers participated (cf KUB XLIV. 5, 6-12; IBoT II, 76, I, 2-9, KUB XXVIII, 103, VI?, 4-5). The prince dressed in the Sepahi shirt (KUB XX, 80. III(?), 12-13), which was put on also by the Hittite king for example in the rite KI LAM (see X, 23,1,12-14).

Similarly to the king, the prince perambulated the temples and sacrificed to the gods the plant AN TAH.SUM, etc. (see KUB XX, 45, IV, (VI?), 28, 31, 32, 39). It is also interesting that on the Hittite winter festival he, obviously in Hattie, performed

some invocation (KUB II, 6, II, 4-5). In a fragment of another description of a Hittite rite (KUB X, 99,1, 24-27 ; CTH 669) the same invocation is connected with die king (cf also a series of fragments with descriptions of Hittite rites, CTH 647, in which the prince appears; on account of the fragmentary state of these tablets, it is not possible to verify whether they relate to the descriptions of royal festivals, or to rites conducted by the prince himself).

The vernal character of the hassumas, the special role of its symbolism connected with the number twelve, as well as the functions of the prince, as a head of this rite, make it possible to collate the hassumas with the Old Indian rajasiiya rite.

hi particular in the rajasuya rite, originally a yearly festival of uniting into a whole and of rebirth (of the king = the universe = the year)[93][94], a striking similarity with the hassumas is shown by the ceremonies connected with the ratnins (high dignitaries and members of the royal household, being limbs' of the dominion '~ksattra'''U. These ceremonies included die visit to die houses of the ratnins by the king. In the course of several days the king went round the house of the ratnins one after another and performed sacrifices there[95][96].

Besides, according to LCHeesterman7, a ceremony took place in the house of one of the ratnins. At the time of this ceremony twelve (or eleven) ratnins took up their residence near the place of sacrifice, settling down in a half circle from south to north or from west to east", imitating in a way the suns stations on its course throughout the year or its course during the night. The king performed the circumambulation of the ratnins just like the sun visits the parts of the universe, and came into contact with them, similarly to marriage. Moving among the ratnins, the king integrated in his person the elements of royalty and "their cosmomythological correspondents, the gods to whom is offered, and thus becomes efficient, possessed of vital force.

This process imitated the course of the year (whose twelve months corresponded to the twelve ratninsf the cosmic process of ripening and re-birth'' (of the king, of the Year).

The close similarity between the ceremonies connected with the ratmns and the rites of the prince on the haSSumaS festival (cf. also the name of the Old Indian festival rajasUya king-engendering", raja king" and the root sti[97] and the name of the Hittite hassumas festival from has= to procreate, beget, give birth" and the Hittite hassu= king connected with it) renders possible to interpret the haSSumaS as the festival of the birth" (or of the opening", cf. the etymological identity of the Hittite has= and the Hittite hes= to open)[98] of the New Year, the universe and the king[99].

The role of the prince as the head of this rite can be explained

with the conception that he represented in the hassumas the king, and the king was reborn in his son (cf. the ceremony of the journey on a chariot on the rajasiiya festival, in which the king was substituted by the heir apparent[100]; cf. in the rajasiiya the interchanging of the names of the king and his successor, in which the identity of the father with his son in whom he is reborn is underlined)[101].

The question, whether the hassumas is really of Hittite (Indo-European) or Hattie origin, remains open. Toward the Hattie origin of this festival[102] points the fact that, with the exception of the Hittite Grain-god, exclusively Hattie gods appear in it, and that the song consecrated to the goddess Ariniti was performed in Hattie. In the case of borrowing of this rite from the Hattie tradition, the name hassumas can be a translation of the Hattie designation of the festival.

Thus, haSSumaS, in which the features known as the initiation rites are missing, cannot be regarded as the initiation of the prince (puberty rite)[103]. Although in haSSumaS the process characteristic also of the rites of initiation death rebirth, brought into connection with the mam acting figure (the centre of the rite) and with the year identical with it, is reproduced, the haSSumaS is still nearest to the royal rites of consecration which, together with the rites of initiation, can be traced back to one and the same source[104].

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The Birth of the Hittite King and the New Year (Note on the Hassumas Festival)*:

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