The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia. They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c. the 14th century BC, encompassing a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syria about as far south as the mouth of the Litani River (in present-day Lebanon), and eastward into upper Mesopotamia. The Hittite military made successful use of chariots. By the mid-14th century BC (under king Suppiluliuma I) carving out an empire that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After c. 1180 BC, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some surviving until the 8th century BC.
Their Hittite language was a member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. Natively, they referred to their land as Hatti, and to their language as Nesili (the language of Nesa). The conventional name "Hittites" is due to their initial identification with the Biblical Hittites in 19th century archaeology. Despite the use of "Hatti", the Hittites should be distinguished from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the same region until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, and spoke a non-Indo-European language known as Hattic.
Although belonging to the Bronze Age, the Hittites were forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the 14th century BC, when letters to foreign rulers reveal the latter's demand for iron goods.
The Hittites used cuneiform letters. Archaeological expeditions have discovered in Hattushash entire sets of royal archives in cuneiform tablets, written either in Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation.
Before the discoveries, the only source of information about Hittites had been the Old Testament (see Biblical Hittites). Francis William Newman expressed the critical view common in the early 19th Century, that if the Hittites existed at all "no Hittite king could have compared in power to the King of Judah...". As archaeological discoveries revealed the scale of the Hittite kingdom in the second half of the 19th Century, Archibald Henry Sayce postulated, rather than to be compared to Judah, the Anatolian civilization "[was] worthy of comparison to the divided Kingdom of Egypt", and was "infinitely more powerful than that of Judah". Sayce and other scholars also mention that Judah and the Hittites were never enemies in the Hebrew texts; in the Book of Kings, they supplied the Israelites with cedar, chariots, and horses, as well as being a friend and allied to Abraham in the Book of Genesis.
The first archaeological evidence for the Hittites appeared in tablets found at the Assyrian colony of Kültepe (ancient Karum Kanesh), containing records of trade between Assyrian merchants and a certain "land of Hatti". Some names in the tablets were neither Hattic nor Assyrian, but clearly Indo-European.
The script on a monument at Boğazköy by a "People of Hattusas" discovered by William Wright in 1884 was found to match peculiar hieroglyphic scripts from Aleppo and Hamath in Northern Syria. In 1887, excavations at Tell El-Amarna in Egypt uncovered the diplomatic correspondence of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and his son Akhenaton. Two of the letters from a "kingdom of Kheta"—apparently located in the same general region as the Mesopotamian references to "land of Hatti"—were written in standard Akkadian cuneiform script, but in an unknown language; although scholars could read it, no one could understand it. Shortly after this, Archibald Sayce proposed that Hatti or Khatti in Anatolia was identical with the "kingdom of Kheta" mentioned in these Egyptian texts, as well as with the biblical Hittites. Others such as Max Müller agreed that Khatti was probably Kheta, but proposed connecting it with Biblical Kittim, rather than with the "Children of Heth". Sayce's identification came to be widely accepted over the course of the early 20th century; and the name "Hittite" has become attached to the civilization uncovered at Boğazköy.
During sporadic excavations at Boğazköy (Hattusa) that began in 1906, the archaeologist Hugo Winckler found a royal archive with 10,000 tablets, inscribed in cuneiform Akkadian and the same unknown language as the Egyptian letters from Kheta—thus confirming the identity of the two names. He also proved that the ruins at Boğazköy were the remains of the capital of an empire that at one point controlled northern Syria.
Under the direction of the German Archaeological Institute, excavations at Hattusa have been underway since 1907, with interruptions during both wars. Kültepe has been successfully excavated by Professor Tahsin Özgüç since 1948 until his death in 2005. Smaller scale excavations have also been carried out in the immediate surroundings of Hattusa, including the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya, which contains numerous rock-cut relief's portraying the Hittite rulers and the gods of the Hittite pantheon.
The Hittite kingdom was centred on the lands surrounding Hattusa and Neša, known as "the land Hatti" (URUHa-at-ti). After Hattusa was made capital, the area encompassed by the bend of the Halys River (Turkish: Kızılırmak, which Hittites called the Marassantiya) was considered the core of the Empire, and some Hittite laws make a distinction between "this side of the river" and "that side of the river", for example, the reward for the capture of an eloped slave after he managed to flee beyond the Halys is higher than that for a slave caught before he could reach the river.
To the west and south of the core territory lay the region known as Luwiya in the earliest Hittite texts. This terminology was replaced by the names Arzawa and Kizzuwatna with the rise of those kingdoms. Nevertheless, the Hittites continued to refer to the language that originated in these areas as Luwian. Prior to the rise of Kizzuwatna, the heart of that territory in Cilicia was first referred to by the Hittites as Adaniya. Upon its revolt from the Hittites during the reign of Ammuna, it assumed the name of Kizzuwatna and successfully expanded northward to encompass the lower Anti-Taurus mountains as well. To the north lived the mountainous people called the Kaskians. To the southeast of the Hittites lay the Hurrian empire of Mitanni. At its peak during the reign of Mursili II, the Hittite empire stretched from Arzawa in the west to Mitanni in the east, many of the Kaskian territories to the north including Hayasa-Azzi in the far north-east, and on south into Canaan approximately as far as the southern border of Lebanon, incorporating all of these territories within its domain.
The Hittite kingdom is conventionally divided into three periods, the Old Hittite Kingdom (ca. 1750–1500 BC), the Middle Hittite Kingdom (ca. 1500–1430 BC) and the New Hittite Kingdom (the Hittite Empire proper, ca. 1430–1180 BC).
The earliest known member of a Hittite speaking dynasty, Pithana, was based at the city of Kussara. In the 18th century BC Anitta, his son and successor, made the Hittite speaking city of Neša into one of his capitals and adopted the Hittite language for his inscriptions there. However, Kussara remained the dynastic capital for about a century until Labarna II adopted Hattusa as the dynastic seat, probably taking the throne name of Hattusili, "man of Hattusa", at that time.
The Old Kingdom, centred at Hattusa, peaked during the 16th century BC. The kingdom even managed to sack Babylon at one point, but made no attempt to govern there, enabling the Kassite to rise to prominence and rule for over 400 years.
During the 15th century BC, Hittite power fell into obscurity, re-emerging with the reign of Tudhaliya I from ca. 1400 BC. Under Suppiluliuma I and Mursili II, the Empire was extended to most of Anatolia and parts of Syria and Canaan, so that by 1300 BC the Hittites were bordering on the Egyptian sphere of influence, leading to the inconclusive Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC.
Civil war and rivalling claims to the throne, combined with the external threat of the Sea Peoples weakened the Hittites and by 1160 BC, the Empire had collapsed. "Neo-Hittite" post-Empire states, petty kingdoms under Assyrian rule, may have lingered on until ca. 700 BC, and the Bronze Age Hittite and Luwian dialects evolved into the sparsely attested Lydian, Lycian and Carian languages.
Remnants of these languages lingered into Persian times (6th–4th centuries BC) and were finally extinguished by the spread of Hellenism which followed Alexander the Great's conquest of Asia Minor in the 4th century BC.
The head of the Hittite state was the king, followed by the heir-apparent, although some officials exercised independent authority over various branches of the government. One of the most important of these posts in the Hittite society was that of the Gal Mesedi (Chief of the Royal Bodyguards). It was superseded by the rank of the Gal Gestin (Chief of the Wine Stewards), who like the Gal Mesedi most times was a member of the royal family. The kingdom's bureaucracy was headed by the Gal Dubsar (Chief of the Scribes), whose authority didn't extend only over the 'Lugal Dubsar, the king's personal scribe.
The Hittite language (or Nesili) is recorded fragmentarily from about the 19th century BC (in the Kültepe texts, see Ishara). It remained in use until about 1100 BC. Hittite is the best attested member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family.
The language of the Hattusa tablets was eventually deciphered by a Czech linguist, Bedřich Hrozný (1879–1952), who on 24 November 1915 announced his results in a lecture at the Near Eastern Society of Berlin. His book about his discovery was printed in Leipzig in 1917, under the title The Language of the Hittites; Its Structure and Its Membership in the Indo-European Linguistic Family. The preface of the book begins with:
- The present work undertakes to establish the nature and structure of the hitherto mysterious language of the Hittites, and to decipher this language [...] It will be shown that Hittite is in the main an Indo-European language.
For this reason, the language came to be known as the Hittite language, even though that was not what its speakers had called it. The Hittites themselves apparently called their language nešili "(in the manner) of (the city of) Neša" and hence it has been suggested that the more technically correct term, "Nesite", be used instead. Nonetheless, convention continues and "Hittite" remains the standard term used.
Due to its marked differences in its structure and phonology, some early philologists, most notably Warren Cowgill even argued that it should be classified as a sister language to Indo-European languages (Indo-Hittite), rather than a daughter language. By the end of the Hittite Empire, the Hittite language had become a written language of administration and diplomatic correspondence. The population of most of the Hittite Empire by this time spoke Luwian dialects, another Indo-European language of the Anatolian family that had originated to the west of the Hittite region.
Religion and mythology
"Storm gods" were prominent in the Hittite pantheon. Tarhunt (Hurrian's Teshub) was referred to as 'The Conqueror', 'The king of Kummiya', 'King of Heaven', 'Lord of the land of Hatti'. He was chief among the gods and his symbol is the bull. As Teshub he was depicted as a bearded man astride two mountains and bearing a club. He was the god of battle and victory, especially when the conflict involved a foreign power. Teshub was also known for his conflict with the serpent Illuyanka.
The Hebrew Bible refers to "Hittites" in several passages, ranging from Genesis to the post-Exilic Ezra-Nehemiah. Genesis 10 (the Table of Nations) links them to an eponymous ancestor Heth, a descendant of Ham through his son Canaan. The Hittites are thereby counted among the Canaanites. The Hittites are usually depicted as a people living among the Israelites — Abraham purchases the Patriarchal burial-plot of Machpelah from "Ephron HaChiti", Ephron the Hittite, and Hittites serve as high military officers in David's army. In 2 Kings 7:6, however, they are a people with their own kingdoms (the passage refers to "kings" in the plural), apparently located outside geographic Canaan, and sufficiently powerful to put a Syrian army to flight.
It is a matter of considerable scholarly debate whether the biblical "Hittites" signified any or all of: 1) the original Hattites of Hatti; 2) their Indo-European conquerors (Nesili), who retained the name "Hatti" for Central Anatolia, and are today referred to as the "Hittites" (the subject of this article); or 3) a Canaanite group who may or may not have been related to either or both of the Anatolian groups, and who also may or may not be identical with the later Neo-Hittite (Luwian) polities.
Other biblical scholars have argued that rather than being connected with Heth, son of Canaan, instead the Anatolian land of Hatti was mentioned in Old Testament literature and apocrypha as "Kittim" (Chittim), a people said to be named for a son of Javan.
The Indo-European element at least establishes Hittite culture as intrusive to Anatolia in scholarly mainstream  (excepting the opinion of Colin Renfrew, whose Anatolian hypothesis assumes that Indo-European is indigenous to Anatolia)
The arrival of the Hittites in Anatolia in prehistoric times was one of a superstrate imposing itself on a native culture, either by means of conquest or by gradual assimilation. In archaeological terms, relationships of the Hittites to the Ezero culture of the Balkans and Maikop culture of the Caucasus have been considered within the migration framework.
- History of the Hittites
- List of Hittite kings
- List of artifacts significant to the Bible
- Short chronology timeline
- ^ Kate Santon: Archaeology, Parragon Books Ltd, London 2007
- ^ Dr Andrew McCarthy, University of myles[clarification needed] c gy 1B Lecture[verification needed]
- ^ The Hittite Empire. Chapter V. Vahan Kurkjian
- ^ Francis William Newman 1853 A history of the Hebrew monarchy: from the administration of Samuel to the Babylonish Captivity 2nd Edition. John Chapman, London P 179 note 2
- ^ The Hittites: the story of a forgotten empire By Archibald Henry Sayce Queen's College, Oxford. October 1888. Introduction
- ^ A Short Grammar of Hieroglyphic Luwian, John Marangozis (2003)
- ^ Beal, Richard H.,"The History of Kizzuwatna and the Date of the Šunaššura Treaty", Orientalia 55 (1986) pp. 424ff.
- ^ Beal. (1986) p. 426
- ^ Bryce, Trevor (2004-12-17). Life and society in the Hittite world. Oxford University Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780199275885. http://books.google.com/books?id=-4OHxYNRdhAC&pg=PA22. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
- ^ , Christopher B. Siren, 'Hittite/Hurrian Mythology REF 1.2', Myths and Legends]
- ^ See Marten H. Woudstra, New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Book of Joshua, p.60, fn.33 and Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, p.389 ff.
- ^ a b Steiner, G. (1990), "The Immigration of the First Indo-Europeans into Anatolia Reconsidered", Journal of Indo-European Studies 18 (1 & 2): 185–214 .
- ^ Renfrew, C. (1999), "Time Depth, Convergence Theory, and Innovation in Proto-Indo-European: 'Old Europe' as a PIE Linguistic Area", Journal of Indo-European Studies 27 (3 & 4): 257–294 .
- ^ Renfrew, C. (1987), Archaeology and Language. The puzzle of Indo-European Origins, Cambridge University Press .
- ^ Puhvel, J. (1994), "Anatolian: Autochton or Interloper", Journal of Indo-European Studies 22 (3 & 4): 251–264 .
- ^ Mallory, J. (1989), In Search of the Indo-Europeans, New York: Thames and Hudson .
- Akurgal, Ekrem (2001) The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations, Publications of the Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Culture, ISBN 975-17-2756-1
- Bryce, Trevor R. (2002) Life and Society in the Hittite World, Oxford.
- Bryce, Trevor R. (1999) The Kingdom of the Hittites, Oxford.
- Ceram, C. W. (2001) The Secret of the Hittites: The Discovery of an Ancient Empire. Phoenix Press, ISBN 1-84212-295-9.
- Güterbock, Hans Gustav (1983) “Hittite Historiography: A Survey,” in H. Tadmor and M. Weinfeld eds. History, Historiography and Interpretation: Studies in Biblical and Cuneiform Literatures, Magnes Press, Hebrew University pp. 21–35.
- Macqueen, J. G. (1986) The Hittites, and Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor, revised and enlarged, Ancient Peoples and Places series (ed. G. Daniel), Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-02108-2.
- Mendenhall, George E. (1973) The Tenth Generation: The Origins of the Biblical Tradition, The Johns Hopkins University Press, ISBN 0-8018-1654-8.
- Neu, Erich (1974) Der Anitta Text, (StBoT 18), Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.
- Orlin, Louis L. (1970) Assyrian Colonies in Cappadocia, Mouton, The Hague.
- Hoffner, Jr., H.A (1973) “The Hittites and Hurrians,” in D. J. Wiseman Peoples of the Old Testament Times, Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Gurney, O.R. (1952) The Hittites, Penguin, ISBN 0-14-020259-5
- Kloekhorst, Alwin (2007), Etymological Dictionary of the Hittite Inherited Lexicon, ISBN 90-04-16092-2O
- Patri, Sylvain (2007), L'alignement syntaxique dans les langues indo-européennes d'Anatolie, (StBoT 49), Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, ISBN 978-3-447-05612-0
- J. Freu et M. Mazoyer,
Des origines à la fin de l'ancien royaume hittite, Les Hittites et leur histoire 1, Paris, 2007 ; Les débuts du nouvel empire hittite, Les Hittites et leur histoire 2, Paris, 2007 ; L'apogée du nouvel empire hittite, Les Hittites et leur histoire 3, Paris, 2008.
- Video lecture at Oriental Institute – Tracking the Frontiers of the Hittite Empire
- Arzawa, to the west, throws light on Hittites
- Pictures of Boğazköy, one of a group of important sites
- Pictures of Yazılıkaya, one of a group of important sites
- Der Anitta Text (at TITUS)
- Tahsin Ozguc
- Hittite Period in Anatolia
- Hethitologieportal Mainz, by the Akademie der Wissenschaften, Mainz, corpus of texts and extensive bibliographies on all things Hittite
Ancient kingdoms of Anatolia Before Achaemenid conquest (546 BC) After Partition of Babylon (323 BC)
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