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Hazzi: The Mountain God—Key to Understanding Early Civilizations

Updated on January 23, 2017
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Dean Traylor is a freelance writer and teacher. He is a former journalist who has worked on various community and college publications.

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The mountain god is a pile of dust. Time has eroded much of Hazzi from human history, leaving only scant clues to the religion and myth that once counted him among the gods for worship.

Even the mountain that once bore his name has buried the remnants of his existence in an area nearly impossible to reach.

This is unfortunate because Hazzi may have revealed much about the formation of the earliest civilizations on the planet. Still, what little is known about this god is tantalizing. It appears that this god was worshipped not just by one ancient culture, but two.

On top of that, belief in this minor god may have spread over a wide expanse of Eurasia – in particular, Asia Minor (modern Turkey). This alone may also give researchers and scholars some clues about ancient migration from one continent to another

What is Known about Hazzi?

An outline of the stone mural supposedly showing Hazzi/Teshub
An outline of the stone mural supposedly showing Hazzi/Teshub | Source

Hazzi went by several identities or was associated with other gods by the Hurrian and Hittite people. The Hittites of the Anatolia plain (modern Turkey) and the Hurrian of the northern Mesopotamian region were among the first civilizations to be formed and to interact with each other.

This interaction is a bit confusing, considering that Hazzi had variation in identity and purpose for the two civilizations. The Hurrian people gave the Hazzi name to a mountain (Mount Hazzi) where they believed the god of storm, Teshub, lived.

Interestingly, Mount Hazzi is now known as Jebel Aqra, located on the Syrian-Turkish border. This mountain has had a long history as a “sacred mountain” in nearly every religion to have existed in that area (including Judaism, Islam and Christianity).

The Hittites, on the other hand, believed Teshub was Hazzi. And he was worshipped for a victory over the sea. This was found in the fragmented story known as The Song of Kumarbi -- or by its more popular name, Kingship in Heaven.

Kingship in Heaven is considered the Hittite version of the Hurrian Kumarbi myth. The three clay tablets it was found on dated to the 14th or 13th century B.C. Currently, only a small portion of these tablets are considered legible enough to decipher, thus giving only a limited view of the myth and Hazzi's role in it.

Kumarbi is considered an important god among the Hurrians. He is the father of Teshub. In other words, Kumarbi was the father to Hazzi

It is believed that his name was evoked on religious oaths and legal doctrines written on several clay tablets.

Hazzi’s main role in both cultures may have been as the mountain god. But, he had other tasks. For instance, modern archaeologists and scholars speculate that he was the god of oaths.

It is believed that his name was evoked on religious oaths and legal doctrines written on several clay tablets. Evidence of this came from several tablets retrieved from sites in Turkey.

This may have been true for both cultures.

Sharing Cultural Beliefs

Much of Hittite’s religion was borrowed from the Hurrian people to the East. This pattern of a religion coming from the east follows the theory of cultural and linguistic dispersion known as the Indo-European migration. This theory states that a large group of people from India migrated northwest over a period of time, spreading their language and cultural beliefs where ever they went.

Also, over time, the language became more regional or dialectal as it mixed with other tribal groups, or as the people became isolated or settled in various areas in Asia and Europe. It is believed that languages such as Persian (Farsi), Greek, Latin, and the Germanic languages (German, English) can trace its roots to this movement (even today, many of these languages have words that are similar in meaning and sound).

In many cases, the gods and goddess worshipped by the original Indo-European nomads were either passed on to conquered or settled regions where they took on their own characteristics and became unique religions of their own .

This appears to be the case with the Hittite and Hurrian cultures. Both were very similar in terms of religion, and they were also one of several societies to be the first to form after this migration (in particular, the Hittite would eventually become a superpower that rivaled the ancient Egyptian for control of the Eastern Mediterranean coast and the Middle East).

Huwasi Stones

Hittite Spinx Motif...not exactly a Huwasi stone for Hazzi, but similar in design.
Hittite Spinx Motif...not exactly a Huwasi stone for Hazzi, but similar in design.

There are some speculations that Hazzi may not have been worshiped in temples; however, the evidence for this is scant and is based on what archaeologists working at the sites in Turkey know so far. Still, this god’s importance for the Hittites and Hurrians can be found through another unique mode. Strong evidence indicates that he was worshiped through the use of Huwasi stones. These particular stones were either in an open area surrounded by trees, plants and/or (possibly) temples.

Archaeologists believed that the stones were treated as gods; they were given food and water, as well as being anointed and washed. Gods with no temple were often worshiped at the location of these stones -- usually, in the open fields (Burney, 2004).

The Modern World Hides Hazzi

Now known as Jebel Aqra, the mountain once known as Mount Hazzi (and home of Hazzi) is located near the coast and is known as a place where thunderstorms gather. This gives credence to the Teshub/Hazzi myth.

The mountain is also located in a war zone. With the Syrian Civil War raging, the archaeological site that held clue to Hazzi has become inaccessible. The Turkish army has closed the area off. Once again, Hazzi’s origin sits in the dust and ash that may have been a place of worship for the mountain god.

This is unfortunate because it was an active archaeological site. Still, Hazzi is not only an indication that mythology or religion was an essential part of ancient civilization; it may be its most important link to the prehistory migration that established the Middle Eastern and European civilizations.

The mountain formally known as Mount Hazzi (now, Jebel Aqra)
The mountain formally known as Mount Hazzi (now, Jebel Aqra) | Source

© 2017 Dean Traylor

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