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Hittite Empire c. 1300 BCE

Hittite Empire c. 1300 BCE

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The Hittite Empire

The Boǧazköy archives are the unique central storehouse of Hittite records for the duration of that empire (only minor additions have been found elsewhere, such as letters at Tell el-Amarna and Alalakh). The past of other cultures was known from external and nonepigraphic sources before the explorational and excavational discoveries of inscriptions with the Hittites, however, the record is in one place and in toto.

Much may be learned of everyday life and social relations from legal texts, including the laws themselves. Such matters as family relations, property rights, land tenure, and commodity prices are dealt with in great and sometimes pedantic or amusing detail. More can be learned from gift deeds of land, cadastral lists, and trial records, the latter containing largely depositions of respondents and witnesses in civil suits. Unique in their kind are treatises on the training of racehorses. Astrological omen texts, divination records (hepatoscopy, auspicy, lottery oracles), and dream interpretations abound, patterned largely on Mesopotamian models rituals of all kinds take up a disproportionate amount of space. Temple foundations and procedures, festival ceremonies, epidemics, impotence, family quarrels, countermagic, royal welfare, birth, insomnia, and the manipulation of deities are among the topics of Hittite ritual in a class by itself is a funeral ritual for royalty, reminiscent of Homeric practices. Not only the Hittite language but Hattian, Hurrian, Luwian, and Palaic are used in rituals.

Another large category is made up of hymns and prayers, most notably those of King Mursilis II, in particular his “plague prayers,” in which he confesses sins and begs the storm god for mercy. Other notable examples are the prayer of Muwatallis to the sun god, the vows of Queen Puduhepa to the sun goddess, and the prayer of Kantuzilis with its intimations of mortality. Native Anatolian mythical texts, such as those of the slaying of the dragon Illuyankas and of the disappearance of the god Telipinus, were part of ritual recitation. Other mythical matter points up the crossroads character of Hittite civilization, being made up of Akkadian, Hurrian, and Canaanite themes. Most of the Hittite epigraphic corpus has some connection with religion.


Biblical background Edit

Before the archeological discoveries that revealed the Hittite civilization, the only source of information about the Hittites had been the Old Testament. Francis William Newman expressed the critical view, common in the early 19th century, that, "no Hittite king could have compared in power to the King of Judah. ". [11]

As the discoveries in the second half of the 19th century revealed the scale of the Hittite kingdom, Archibald Sayce asserted that, rather than being 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". [12] Sayce and other scholars also noted 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, and in the Book of Genesis were friends and allies to Abraham. Uriah the Hittite was a captain in King David's army and counted as one of his "mighty men" in 1 Chronicles 11.

Initial discoveries Edit

French scholar Charles Texier found the first Hittite ruins in 1834 but did not identify them as such. [10] [13]

The first archaeological evidence for the Hittites appeared in tablets found at the karum of Kanesh (now called Kültepe), 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. [14]

The script on a monument at Boğazkale by a "People of Hattusas" discovered by William Wright in 1884 was found to match peculiar hieroglyphic scripts from Aleppo and Hama in Northern Syria. In 1887, excavations at Amarna in Egypt uncovered the diplomatic correspondence of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and his son, Akhenaten. 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, but in an unknown language although scholars could interpret its sounds, no one could understand it. Shortly after this, 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 Biblical Hittites. 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. [ citation needed ]

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 under way since 1907, with interruptions during the world wars. Kültepe was successfully excavated by Professor Tahsin Özgüç from 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 reliefs portraying the Hittite rulers and the gods of the Hittite pantheon.

Writings Edit

The Hittites used a variation of cuneiform called Hittite cuneiform. Archaeological expeditions to Hattusa have discovered entire sets of royal archives on cuneiform tablets, written either in Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation. [15]

Museums Edit

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey houses the richest collection of Hittite and Anatolian artifacts.

The Hittite kingdom was centred on the lands surrounding Hattusa and Neša (Kültepe), known as "the land Hatti" ( URU Ha-at-ti). After Hattusa was made capital, the area encompassed by the bend of the Kızılırmak River (Hittite 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 escaped 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. [16] 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. [17] Upon its revolt from the Hittites during the reign of Ammuna, [18] 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 Muršili 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.

Origins Edit

It is generally assumed that the Hittites came into Anatolia some time before 2000 BC. While their earlier location is disputed, it has been speculated by scholars for more than a century that the Yamnaya culture of the Pontic–Caspian steppe, in present-day Ukraine, around the Sea of Azov, spoke an early Indo-European language during the third and fourth millennia BC. [19]

The arrival of the Hittites in Anatolia in the Bronze Age was one of a superstrate imposing itself on a native culture (in this case over the pre-existing Hattians and Hurrians), either by means of conquest or by gradual assimilation. [20] [21] In archaeological terms, relationships of the Hittites to the Ezero culture of the Balkans and Maykop culture of the Caucasus have been considered within the migration framework. [22] The Indo-European element at least establishes Hittite culture as intrusive to Anatolia in scholarly mainstream.

According to Anthony, steppe herders, archaic Proto-Indo-European speakers, spread into the lower Danube valley about 4200–4000 BC, either causing or taking advantage of the collapse of Old Europe. [23] Their languages "probably included archaic Proto-Indo-European dialects of the kind partly preserved later in Anatolian." [24] Their descendants later moved into Anatolia at an unknown time but maybe as early as 3000 BC. [25] According to J. P. Mallory it is likely that the Anatolians reached the Near East from the north either via the Balkans or the Caucasus in the 3rd millennium BC. [26] According to Parpola, the appearance of Indo-European speakers from Europe into Anatolia, and the appearance of Hittite, is related to later migrations of Proto-Indo-European speakers from the Yamnaya culture into the Danube Valley at c. 2800 BC, [27] [28] which is in line with the "customary" assumption that the Anatolian Indo-European language was introduced into Anatolia sometime in the third millennium BC. [29] However, Petra Goedegebuure has shown that the Hittite language has lend many words related to agriculture from cultures on their eastern borders, which is strong evidence of having taken a route across the Caucasus "Anatolians on the move" Oriëntal Institute lecture and against a route through Europe.

Their movement into the region may have set off a Near East mass migration sometime around 1900 BC. [ citation needed ] The dominant indigenous inhabitants in central Anatolia at the time were Hurrians and Hattians who spoke non-Indo-European languages. Some have argued that Hattic was a Northwest Caucasian language, but its affiliation remains uncertain, whilst the Hurrian language was a near-isolate (i.e. it was one of only two or three languages in the Hurro-Urartian family). There were also Assyrian colonies in the region during the Old Assyrian Empire (2025–1750 BC) it was from the Assyrian speakers of Upper Mesopotamia that the Hittites adopted the cuneiform script. It took some time before the Hittites established themselves following the collapse of the Old Assyrian Empire in the mid-18th century BC, as is clear from some of the texts included here. For several centuries there were separate Hittite groups, usually centered on various cities. But then strong rulers with their center in Hattusa (modern Boğazkale) succeeded in bringing these together and conquering large parts of central Anatolia to establish the Hittite kingdom. [30]

Early Period Edit

The early history of the Hittite kingdom is known through tablets that may first have been written in the 18th century BC, [31] [2] in Hittite [31] [32] but most of the tablets survived only as Akkadian copies made in the 14th and 13th centuries BC. These reveal a rivalry within two branches of the royal family up to the Middle Kingdom a northern branch first based in Zalpuwa and secondarily Hattusa, and a southern branch based in Kussara (still not found) and the former Assyrian colony of Kanesh. These are distinguishable by their names the northerners retained language isolate Hattian names, and the southerners adopted Indo-European Hittite and Luwian names. [33]

Zalpuwa first attacked Kanesh under Uhna in 1833 BC. [34]

One set of tablets, known collectively as the Anitta text, [35] begin by telling how Pithana the king of Kussara conquered neighbouring Neša (Kanesh). [36] However, the real subject of these tablets is Pithana's son Anitta ( r . 1745–1720 BC), [37] who continued where his father left off and conquered several northern cities: including Hattusa, which he cursed, and also Zalpuwa. This was likely propaganda for the southern branch of the royal family, against the northern branch who had fixed on Hattusa as capital. [38] Another set, the Tale of Zalpuwa, supports Zalpuwa and exonerates the later Ḫattušili I from the charge of sacking Kanesh. [38]

Anitta was succeeded by Zuzzu ( r. 1720–1710 BC) [37] but sometime in 1710–1705 BC, Kanesh was destroyed, taking the long-established Assyrian merchant trading system with it. [34] A Kussaran noble family survived to contest the Zalpuwan/Hattusan family, though whether these were of the direct line of Anitta is uncertain. [39]

Meanwhile, the lords of Zalpa lived on. Huzziya I, descendant of a Huzziya of Zalpa, took over Hatti. His son-in-law Labarna I, a southerner from Hurma (now Kalburabastı) usurped the throne but made sure to adopt Huzziya's grandson Ḫattušili as his own son and heir.

Old Kingdom Edit

The founding of the Hittite Kingdom is attributed to either Labarna I or Hattusili I (the latter might also have had Labarna as a personal name), [40] who conquered the area south and north of Hattusa. Hattusili I campaigned as far as the Semitic Amorite kingdom of Yamkhad in Syria, where he attacked, but did not capture, its capital of Aleppo. Hattusili I did eventually capture Hattusa and was credited for the foundation of the Hittite Empire. According to The Edict of Telepinu, dating to the 16th century BC, "Hattusili was king, and his sons, brothers, in-laws, family members, and troops were all united. Wherever he went on campaign he controlled the enemy land with force. He destroyed the lands one after the other, took away their power, and made them the borders of the sea. When he came back from campaign, however, each of his sons went somewhere to a country, and in his hand the great cities prospered. But, when later the princes' servants became corrupt, they began to devour the properties, conspired constantly against their masters, and began to shed their blood." This excerpt from the edict is supposed to illustrate the unification, growth, and prosperity of the Hittites under his rule. It also illustrates the corruption of "the princes", believed to be his sons. The lack of sources leads to uncertainty of how the corruption was addressed. On Hattusili I's deathbed, he chose his grandson, Mursili I (or Murshilish I), as his heir. [41]

In 1595 BC, Mursili I conducted a great raid down the Euphrates River, bypassing Assyria, and captured Mari and Babylonia, ejecting the Amorite founders of the Babylonian state in the process. However, internal dissension forced a withdrawal of troops to the Hittite homelands. Throughout the remainder of the 16th century BC, the Hittite kings were held to their homelands by dynastic quarrels and warfare with the Hurrians—their neighbours to the east. [42] Also the campaigns into Amurru (modern Syria) and southern Mesopotamia may be responsible for the reintroduction of cuneiform writing into Anatolia, since the Hittite script is quite different from that of the preceding Assyrian Colonial period.

Mursili continued the conquests of Hattusili I. Mursili's conquests reached southern Mesopotamia and even ransacked Babylon itself in 1531 BC (short chronology). [43] Rather than incorporate Babylonia into Hittite domains, Mursili seems to have instead turned control of Babylonia over to his Kassite allies, who were to rule it for the next four centuries. This lengthy campaign strained the resources of Hatti, and left the capital in a state of near-anarchy. Mursili was assassinated shortly after his return home, and the Hittite Kingdom was plunged into chaos. The Hurrians (under the control of an Indo-Aryan Mitanni ruling class), a people living in the mountainous region along the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern south east Turkey, took advantage of the situation to seize Aleppo and the surrounding areas for themselves, as well as the coastal region of Adaniya, renaming it Kizzuwatna (later Cilicia).

Following this, the Hittites entered a weak phase of obscure records, insignificant rulers, and reduced domains. This pattern of expansion under strong kings followed by contraction under weaker ones, was to be repeated over and over through the Hittite Kingdom's 500-year history, making events during the waning periods difficult to reconstruct. The political instability of these years of the Old Hittite Kingdom can be explained in part by the nature of the Hittite kingship at that time. During the Old Hittite Kingdom prior to 1400 BC, the king of the Hittites was not viewed by his subjects as a "living god" like the Pharaohs of Egypt, but rather as a first among equals. [44] Only in the later period from 1400 BC until 1200 BC did the Hittite kingship become more centralized and powerful. Also in earlier years the succession was not legally fixed, enabling "War of the Roses" style rivalries between northern and southern branches.

The next monarch of note following Mursili I was Telepinu (c. 1500 BC), who won a few victories to the southwest, apparently by allying himself with one Hurrian state (Kizzuwatna) against another (Mitanni). Telepinu also attempted to secure the lines of succession. [45]

Middle Kingdom Edit

The last monarch of the Old kingdom, Telepinu, reigned until about 1500 BC. Telepinu's reign marked the end of the "Old Kingdom" and the beginning of the lengthy weak phase known as the "Middle Kingdom". [46] The period of the 15th century BC is largely unknown with very sparse surviving records. [47] Part of the reason for both the weakness and the obscurity is that the Hittites were under constant attack, mainly from the Kaska, a non-Indo-European people settled along the shores of the Black Sea. The capital once again went on the move, first to Sapinuwa and then to Samuha. There is an archive in Sapinuwa, but it has not been adequately translated to date.

It segues into the "Hittite Empire period" proper, which dates from the reign of Tudhaliya I from c. 1430 BC.

One innovation that can be credited to these early Hittite rulers is the practice of conducting treaties and alliances with neighboring states the Hittites were thus among the earliest known pioneers in the art of international politics and diplomacy. This is also when the Hittite religion adopted several gods and rituals from the Hurrians.

Early History and the Hittites

From the earliest mention in historical records, Cilicia has been referenced as comprising two interconnected regions: a fertile plain and the rugged mountains. In the Roman period, these were known as Cilicia Pedias (“smooth Cilicia” of the plains toward the Mediterranean Sea) and Cilicia Trachea (“rough Cilicia” of the foothills of the Taurus Mountains down to the rocky shore and inlets of the sea). Earlier references note the geological differences of the region by other names with the same connotation of “flat and fertile” and “rough and rugged”.

Sometime between 2700-2400 BCE, a people known as the Hatti either migrated into upper Anatolia or were natives of the region who only began making their presence known to the historical record at that time. Simultaneously or shortly afterward, a people known as the Luwians enter the record, but little is known of them except for their language which was related to but distinct from Hittite. The Hatti were an agrarian people who spoke a language called Hattic but wrote using Mesopotamian cuneiform (as did the Hittites). They established their central city, Hattusa, north of Cilicia in c. 2500 BCE and were a powerful force in the region, able to repulse invasion by the formidable Sargon of Akkad (also known as Sargon the Great, r. 2334-2279 BCE) who, failing to take Hattusa, claimed the southern coast line of Cilicia.

A map showing the Hittite Empire in c. 1350-1300 BCE (dark green line) and at its maximum extent (light green area). / Ikonact, Wikimedia Commons

Cilicia was held, loosely, by the Akkadian Empire until its collapse c. 2083 BCE at which time the Hatti were able to completely reassert their control (although it is likely they had already done so long before). The Hatti controlled the ports along Cilicia’s coast until the Hittite king Anitta of the Kingdom of Kussara invaded in 1700 BCE, destroyed Hattusa and established the so-called Old Hittite Kingdom (1700-1500 BCE). Still, some political autonomy seems to have survived as evidenced by a series of kings, beginning with Isputahsu (c. 15th century BCE), entering into treaties with the Hittites and Mitanni.

Hittite Empire

The Hittites (/ˈhɪtaɪts/) were an Anatolian people who played an important role in establishing an empire centered on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1680-1650 BCE. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BC under Šuppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Anatolia as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia.

Between the 15th and 13th centuries BC, the Empire of Hattusa, conventionally called the Hittite Empire, came into conflict with the New Kingdom of Egypt, the Middle Assyrian Empire and the empire of the Mitanni for control of the Near East. The Middle Assyrian Empire eventually emerged as the dominant power and annexed much of the Hittite Empire, while the remainder was sacked by Phrygian newcomers to the region. After c. 1180 BC, during the Late Bronze Age collapse, the Hittites splintered into several independent Syro-Hittite states, some of which survived until the eighth century BC before succumbing to the Neo-Assyrian Empire.

The Hittite language was a distinct member of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family, and along with the closely related Luwian language, is the oldest historically attested Indo-European language, referred to by its speakers as nešili “in the language of Nesa”. The Hittites called their country the Kingdom of Hattusa (Hatti in Akkadian), a name received from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the region until the beginning of the second millennium BC and spoke an unrelated language known as Hattic. The conventional name “Hittites” is due to their initial identification with the Biblical Hittites in 19th century archaeology.

The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their kingdom, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Assyria, Babylonia, Egypt and the Middle East, the decipherment of which was also a key event in the history of Indo-European studies.

The development of iron smelting was once attributed to the Hittites of Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age, with their success largely based on the advantages of a monopoly on ironworking at the time. But the view of such a “Hittite monopoly” has come under scrutiny and is no longer a scholarly consensus. As part of the Late-Bronze-Age/Early-Iron-Age, the Late Bronze Age collapse saw the slow, comparatively continuous spread of iron-working technology in the region. While there are some iron objects from Bronze Age Anatolia, the number is comparable to iron objects found in Egypt and other places during the period and only a small number of these objects are weapons. Hittites did not use smelted iron, but rather meteorites.[7] The Hittite military made successful use of chariots.

In classical times, ethnic Hittite dynasties survived in small kingdoms scattered around what is now Syria, Lebanon and Palestine. Lacking a unifying continuity, their descendants scattered and ultimately merged into the modern populations of the Levant, Turkey and Mesopotamia.

During the 1920s, interest in the Hittites increased with the founding of Turkey and attracted the attention of Turkish archaeologists such as Halet Çambel and Tahsin Özgüç. During this period, the new field of Hittitology also influenced the naming of Turkish institutions, such as the state-owned Etibank (“Hittite bank”), and the foundation of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, 200 kilometers west of the Hittite capital and housing the most comprehensive exhibition of Hittite art and artifacts in the world.

Key Facts & Information

History and Background

  • The superpower Hittite Empire emerged at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BCE. They were a group of Indo-Europeans which related them to the western world.
  • The Hittite civilization was a hybrid one because it was formed by the blending of previous dwellers of that area, the Hatti. They were also connected with the Luwians and Hurrians and they also established relationships with other supreme civilizations, Mesopotamia and Egypt.
  • The Hittites managed to rise as a strong and powerful kingdom by the 14th and 13th century B.C. They reached their height of power under Suppiluliuma I, when it got the control of most of Anatolia along with parts of northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia.
  • The Hittite were finally demolished at the end of 13th century B.C., and was split into several “Neo-Hittite” states in southwestern Asia Minor and northern Syria.

Religion and Culture:

  • Religion:
    • Hittite religion was polytheistic which means they had set of gods.
    • The Hattic, Mesopotamian, and Hurrian fellows had a major impact on their religion.
    • “Storm Gods” were an important part of the Hittite religion. Tarhunt was the God of war and victory. He was also named as “The Conqueror”, “The King of Kummiya”, “King of Heaven”, and “Lord of the Land of Hatti”.
    • The Hittites communicated in Hittite and Akkadian language for official purposes and in Hurrian for commercial. Hieroglyphic Hittite was mostly used in rock drawings and inscription in stone monuments.
    • At first, the major artifacts included hand-made pottery and different vessels with geometric paintings.
    • From about 1500 B.C., metal took over and Hittites started making artistic products out of iron. They created weapons and tools that were more powerful and efficient than those made from bronze. It might be possible that the Hittites learned this new technology from the people living in the Zagros Mountains in the western Iran.
    • From about 1500 B.C., metal took over and Hittites started making artistic products out of iron. They created weapons and tools that were more powerful and efficient than those made from bronze. It might be possible that the Hittites learned this new technology from the people living in the Zagros Mountains in the western Iran.
    • The largest constructed sculptures of the Hittite Empire include The Sphinx Gates of Alaca Höyük and Hattusa, with the monument at the spring of Eflatun Pınar.
    • Yazilikaya bas-reliefs is one of the Hittite innovations in which goddesses are represented.
    • Hittite writing is made out of fantasies, records, illustrious declarations, contracts, deeds, and condemnations.
    • There are a few myths, with no extraordinary scholarly legitimacy that had significant interest, such as a divine being who disappears and the earth endures some cataclysmic event because of his or her defensive consideration being pulled back, until the being in question was found once more.
    • In addition to myths, Hittite literature also contains translations Mesopotamian myths, and transcriptions of speeches with real emotion in them. One contains a clarification for why the ruler (Hattusilis) put aside one crown sovereign for another. Another transcription explains that Lord Telipinu sets out new principles of legacy of the royal position.
    • This shows the fact that in Hittite political life, (at least in its early stage) lords couldn’t just command their subjects, but needed to marshal their nobles and the rest of their people to their will. They practiced genuine authority.


    • The leader of the Hittite state was the King.
    • A few authorities, The Pankus, practiced autonomous rule over different parts of the administration, so the ruler did not control all parts of the kingdom.
    • Hittite queens had an autonomous position inside the domain. They were high priestesses in the state religion, and some assumed a prominent job in issues of the state.
    • Since they had no law of progression until around 1500 BCE, the death of the ruling frequently set off a battle for power.


    • The Hittites were evidently exceptionally able at directing attacks and striking urban communities. They were one of the first to embrace the use of horses for pulling light two-wheeled chariots and made these vehicles a pillar of their field armed forces.
    • Enduring works of art depict Hittite troopers as stocky and unshaven, wearing ankle-height leather shoes. For close battle, they utilized bronze knives, spears, lances, sickle-molded swords, and fight tomahawks.

    Issues between Hittites and Egyptians:

    • The Hittites had been making progress into the Egyptian domain and had caused trouble for the Pharaoh Thutmose III. Pharaoh Ramesses II set out to drive the Hittites from his fringes. He planned to gain a favorable position by capturing the city of Kadesh, a focal point of business which the Hittites held. Ramesses marched from Egypt as the head of more than 20,000 officers in four divisions to battle against the troops of Muwatalli, the ruler of the Hittites.

    Battle of Kadesh:

    • The Egyptian and Hittite armed forces had equal strength, which is most likely why both believed they would triumph. The two civic establishments flaunted solid state control and the capacity to send troops to war to battle for power over their domains. The results of these fights is questionable, however, it appears that the convenient building of Egyptian fortifications caused the Hittites to lose. The Egyptians stopped the Hittites from taking shelter in the fortification of Kadesh. However, their very own misfortunes kept them from continuing the attack. This fight occurred in the fifth year of Ramesses.

    Demise of the Hittite Kingdom:

    • Following an arrangement with Egypt around 1259 BCE, many years of relative harmony followed in most significant parts of the Empire.
    • Amid the extraordinary fiasco around 1200 BCE, the Hittite realm was all of a sudden obliterated. It may have been because the Hittites had been experiencing a deficiency of nourishment: records on dirt tablets uncover that they had started bringing in grain from Egypt in the mid-thirteenth century BCE.
    • Hattusa was inevitably relinquished by the last known ruler (Suppiluliuma II), and after that, the fortresses were torn down and the city left to ruin.

    Hittite Empire Worksheets

    This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Hittite Empire across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Hittite Empire worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Hittites who were an urbane and bronze age civilization that existed for over 800 years in the deep mountains of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor. The Hittites rivaled both ancient Egypt and Babylon, and were one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world.

    Complete List Of Included Worksheets

    • Hittite Empire Facts
    • The Great Hittite Empire
    • The Hattian Word Search
    • Let’s do some research!
    • Battle of Kadesh
    • Solve the Hattian Crossword
    • The Hittites
    • Great Monuments of The Hittites
    • Hittite Acrostic Poem
    • Let’s Test Your Knowledge!
    • Letter About The Hittite Empire

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    A Brief History of the Hittite Empire

    Hittite power waned in the Middle Kingdom at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age until the New Kingdom was established by King Tudhaliya I/II who, allied with Kizzuwatna and with assistance from Middle Kingdom Assyria, vanquished the Mitannian state of Aleppo and then expanded to the west at the expense of Arzawa (a Luwian state).

    After Tudhaliya’s reign a period of weakness followed until Suppiluliuma I restored and extended Hittite power, again defeating the Mitannian state of Aleppo and other cities in Syria such as Carchemish.

    A map of the Hittite Empire during the reigns of Suppiluliuma I and Musili II circa 1350-1295 BC at the time of its greatest extent. Hittite tributary lands also encompassed Luwian states in western Anatolia at various times, including Arzawa and Ahhiyawa – which have been given provisional, though likely, locations on this map.

    Mursilis II campaigned in the west against Arzawa and Ahhiyawa so that by c.1300 BCE the Hittites were competing with New Kingdom Egypt for control of Syria and Canaan in the south. This came to a head when the Hittite army and their allies under Muwatalli II clashed with the New Kingdom Egyptians, under Ramesses II, at the famous Battle of Kadesh in c.1274 BCE.

    After this date Hittite power began to decline due to the expanding Assyrian Middle Kingdom. Tudhaliya IV lost territory to them and was defeated at the Battle of Nihiriya. He did manage, however, to conquer Cyprus though it was subsequently lost to the Assyrians. The last Hittite King, Suppiluliuma II, did win a naval battle against Alashiya off the coast of Cyprus but the Assyrians by this time had annexed much of Hittite territory in Asia Minor and Syria, hastening their demise.

    The Hittite Empire was eventually destroyed by the Sea Peoples and Gasgan invasions at the end of the Late Bronze Age. Also, from the west came the Phrygians or Mushki, who filled the void in central Anatolia whilst in the east the start of the Iron Age saw the rise of the Urartians.

    Religion and the Role of Women

    King and Queen offering to Museum Alacahöyük weather god / Ankara Archaeological Museum, Wikimedia Commons

    The chief deity was Hepat, goddess of the sun. Hepat appears to have continued to be venerated by the Hittite’s successors, the Phrygians in the form of Cybele. Lelwani was goddesses of the underworld. The king and queen were themselves the high priest and priestesses of the Empire, although the king’s sister, with the title of Tawananna, also performed certain religious ceremonies and ran the royal household. Bryce (2006) describes this office as “one of the most powerful and influential positions” in the empire (96). Queen Pudehepa gathered many religious texts together and in addition to diplomatic correspondence prayers co-written by her husband have survived. her husband’s death “brought to an end one of the one of the closest and one of the most enduring and constructive royal partnerships of the ancient world” (Bryce, 319). A famous relief at Firaktin depicts her performing a religious ceremony together he is making an offering to a God, she to Hepat (Bryce, 317).

    The Hittites appear to have adopted aspects of religious practice and some of the deities of conquered peoples. This may have been pragmatic, attempting to build cultural bridges that would encourage these people to regard the Hittite culture as their own, preventing rebellion. On the other hand, it could indicate the view to see humanity as one family. Bryce (2006) describes evidence that legal practice moved from the punitive to being much more merciful. For example, King Telipinu (1525-1600) used banishment instead of execution, thus signaling to his own and succeeding generations that he was replacing the past with a “process of justice that was merciful and restrained” (113). Bryce describes King Mursili, the conqueror of Babylon, as humane. He could be ruthless in war but he had a profound concern to act “…in accordance with the dictates of his conscience and what he perceived to be the divine will” (240). Justice, too, had to be “seen to be done” and only the offender, not any other member of his household, “should suffer” (Bryce, 117 see also [3]).

    Hittite Art (c.1600-1180 BCE)

    NOTE: For more about the cultures and civilizations of Antiquity,
    please see: Ancient Art (2,500,000 BCE - 400 CE).

    Hittite Capital of Hattusha
    The key archeological site of the
    Hittite Empire, renowned for its
    temples, palaces and fortifications,
    the decorative carvings of its Lions'
    Gate and Royal Gate, and the
    collection of rock art at Yazilikaya.
    Hittite culture is best known
    above all for its contribution to
    Mesopotamian sculpture in a
    variety of media and sizes.

    For more on early civilization,
    please see Classical Antiquity
    (from 800 BCE to 450 CE).

    For a contemporaneous
    culture to the south, see:
    Mycenean Art (1650-1200).

    The Hittites were an Asia Minor people who, about 2000 BCE, began organizing a number of city-states scattered across the mountaineous plateau of Anatolia (Turkey). They were the first people in the area to mine and use iron, and by 1600 BCE they established themselves at Hattusa (today's Bogazkale, or Bogazkoy) in northern Anatolia (Turkey) around 1600 BCE, before expanding to control most of the surrounding region. The ancient art of the Hittite kingdom - notably its architecture and relief sculpture - was produced largely during this imperial phase which reached its height in the 14th century BCE under King Suppiluliuma I. At this point, the Hittites controlled an area which included most of Anatolia, Upper Mesopotamia (Iraq) as well as Syria and Lebanon. Although Hittite art had its own style, it was undoubtedly influenced by Sumerian art - the leading cultural strain within Mesopotamian art - and also by Egyptian art, not least because of Egyptian virtuosity at stone cutting and carving. Assyrian art, too, would play its part but only several centuries later. The Hittite empire collapsed about 1180, but the Hittites reappeared in several "Neo-Hittite" city-states - which they controlled in collaboration with Aramaeans and other peoples - some of which endured until around 750 BCE. According to Vahan Kurkjian, in his book The Hittite Empire, our main source of knowledge about Hittite culture derives from archeological discoveries of royal archives in the Hittite capital of Hattusa. These archives consisted of hundreds of stone tablets inscribed with Mesopotamian cuneiform letters, written in the Semitic language of Babylonia and Assyria. One of the most revealing tablets (written in Akkadian script and dating to c.1275-1220 BCE) contains correspondence from Egyptian Queen Nefertari (wife of Ramses II) to Hittite Queen Puduhepa written shortly after the Kadesh Peace Treaty. (The tablet is now in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, in Ankara.) Prior to these finds, the only source of information about Hittite civilization had been the Hebrew Old Testament of the Bible. Important sites of Hittite arts and crafts include Hattusa, Inandik, Eskiyapar, Alacahoyuk, Alisar and Ferzant.

    Note: For another Anatolian culture, from the era of Mesolithic art, see the important archeological site of Gobekli Tepe (c.9,500 BCE).

    Characteristics of Hittite Art

    The visual art of the Hittites, though influenced by work from several far places, was most closely related to that of the Mesopotamians. The Hittite seals, for example, were strongly reminiscent of Assyrian models. But the main body of the art uncovered in Hittite cities is of independent and prior origin. It consists especially of low-relief sculptures cut in stone - these were to be copied and refined by the Assyrians until they became the marvellous mile-long murals of the palaces at Nineveh - and freestanding sphinxes that likewise were to be adopted, as gateway guardians, by the Mesopotamians and, after them, the Persians. One highlight of this type of art is the relief of the God of War carved onto the King's Gate at Hattusa (now in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara). The carved reliefs around Hattusa's Lions' Gate are equally impressive. In general, however, Hittite artistic creativity in art, while strong, simple, and forthright, is undistinguished in technique and limited in imagination. Its character, however, is unmistakable.

    The state religion of the Hittites was one of nature-worship. The weather-god and the sun-goddess appeared at the top of an amazingly long list of minor gods representing the elements or natural objects. Each of the federated city-states might have its local god and indeed "the thousand gods of Hatti" are invoked in many state documents and treaties. A great deal of Hittite sculpture is concerned with these gods, and with religious festivals when the king made official visits of worship to them. In one case a procession of all the gods is presented.

    The Hittite capital, strategically situated over a rocky gorge, had a citadel protected by double walls and defensive towers, and was entered through huge arched gateways flanked by statues and reliefs - typically featuring lions or sphinxes - anticipating those of the Late Assyrian palaces at Nineveh and Nimrud. Carved on the inside of one archway is a famous relief sculpture of a soldier wearing the typical Hittite short kilt and conical helmet.

    Elsewhere in Hattusa there are four temples, the largest of which has been thoroughly excavated. It is a massive structure, surrounded by storage chambers, with a central courtyard fringed with pillared colonnades and a small corner shrine. These features and the isolated position of the main sanctuary have no equivalents in the temple architecture of Mesopotamia.

    Compare the Hittite taste for monumental architecture (and sculpture) with Egyptian Pyramid Architecture (c.2650-1800 BCE). See also: Ancient Egyptian Architecture (c.3,000-200 BCE).

    Hittite artists were specialists in carving sculpture out of natural rock formations. They were many centuries ahead of the Persians who carved out the famous tombs and sculptures at Naksh-I-Rustum. (Compare this with examples of monumental Egyptian sculpture, such as the Sphinx.)

    Although remains of this rock art have been reported from many parts of the old Hittite country, the best known monument is the shrine at Yazilikaya, close to Bogazkoy, the Hittite capital. It is here that a procession of the "thousand gods" was attempted. It is really two processions, on two cliffs that converge upon a central sanctuary. Unfortunately, probably because of climatic erosion, these bas-reliefs - carved on the vertical faces of the rock on the open cliffs - seem artistically on the simple, heavy side. Moreover part of the iconography is borrowed from the Hurrians, a tribe with whom the Hittite royal family had intermarried. However, the figures in the sanctuary itself, are sculpted with an almost religious intensity. The figure of a young king (Tudhaliyas IV), for instance, depicted in the safe embrace of a god is as impressive as the unmistakable symbolism of a large dagger thrust into the rock in front of him.

    Better examples of the Hittite genius are to be seen in the stone sculpture decorating the gates of Hattusa itself, as well as the bas-reliefs from inside walls, such as those excavated at Carchemish, an important ancient capital on the frontier between Turkey and Syria, or the stone fragment in the Louvre Museum illustrating a stag hunt. These were produced during a later period in Hittite history, (c.900 BCE), but are revealing nevertheless. As can be seen in the Stag Hunt, the formalization is more pronounced than in earlier Sumerian murals at Ur and elsewhere. There is a tendency to square the figures, and each one is kept uniformly flat against a featureless flat background. Altogether the Hittite "style" shows a better sense of filling space compositionally but it falls far short of the vividness and naturalness of depiction in the later Assyrian reliefs. (For the greatest examples of narrative relief work, see: Roman Relief Sculpture 117-324 CE.)

    Around 1180 BCE the Hittite empire came to an end and the Hittites were driven from their base on the Anatolian plateau by the Phrygians, allies of the Trojans from western Anatolia. Then during the period 1000-800 BCE they resurfaced as occupants of small city-states such as Milid (today's Arslantepe-Malatya), Sam'al (Zincirli), and Carchemish, in the Taurus mountains of southern Anatolia or northern Syria, where they shared political authority with indigenous tribes such as the Aramaeans and others. Syro-Hittite art and architecture during this time was of a hybrid and somewhat inferior character greatly influenced by Assyria, to whom the Hittites paid homage, and also by Phoenicia and Egypt. A feature of their buildings are the monumental carved upright megaliths (orthostats), that line the base of many of the walls rough, black basalt alternating with white limestone. Columns are usually made out of wood, with bases and capitals of stone, and large statues, greater than life-size, are another common feature.

    Syro-Hittite palaces usually consisted of one or more "bit hilani" units, consisting of a monumental entrance, approached by a broad but low flight of steps, with a columned portico, and a long reception room, with numerous retiring rooms. A perfect illustration of this type of Hittite palace architecture is the Kaparu Palace at Tall Halaf. (For another contemporaneous tradition of palace architecture, see: Minoan Art on Crete.)

    • For more about the arts and crafts of the Hittites, see: Homepage.

    Contagion and Recovery in the Hittite Empire

    In the late 14 th century BCE, an epidemic disease afflicted the kingdom of Hatti, located in central Anatolia (present-day Turkey). Mursili II, King of Hatti, pleaded with the gods to make the plague stop, in a series of prayers that were written down on clay tablets. The prayers were composed in the Hittite language and written in the cuneiform script. Several of the clay tablets on which they were recorded have survived for us to read today. These tablets, which were excavated at Boǧazköy, site of the Hittite capital Hattusa, are known as the Plague Prayers of Mursili II.

    Mursili pleads with the gods to let him know, through an oracle, through a dream, through a prophet, or through a priest, why they have caused Hatti to suffer this plague and what he has to do to make it stop. &ldquoThis is the twentieth year,&rdquo Mursili told the gods, that &ldquoHatti is experiencing many deaths.&rdquo The plague has been ravaging Hatti ever since his father Suppiluliuma invaded the area of Lebanon, which was part of Egypt&rsquos empire. There the army of Hatti battled the army of Egypt and won, taking many captives back to Hatti. The plague broke out among the captives and then infected the Hittites, eventually killing even Suppiluliuma himself &ndash and then his son Arnuwanda, who succeeded him as king. So Mursili, Arnuwanda&rsquos brother and the next to take the throne, was very keen on placating the gods.

    Clearly the Hittites recognized that disease was transmitted by contagion from one person to another. Yet the gods, the very gods who had blessed Suppiluliuma with victory, could not have allowed his kingdom to be attacked by disease unless they were angry about some transgression. Which transgression was the cause? Was it because Suppiluliuma had come to power after getting a rival, Tudhaliya the Younger, assassinated? Well, the guilty have already made restitution for the murdered man&rsquos blood, and Mursili will now make restitution again. Was it because the gods require the Hittites to perform the ritual of the Euphrates River? Mursili&rsquos on his way to do it right now. Was it because Hatti broke a treaty with Egypt when invading Egypt&rsquos territory? We&rsquove confessed our sin and we&rsquore paying for it, says Mursili. What else do I have to do? he pleads (apparently making peace with Egypt was not an option). Listen, ye gods, he says, you won&rsquot even have anyone left to bake bread for offerings or pour you libations, if you don&rsquot remove the plague from Hatti!

    It seems the gods did listen, eventually, and the epidemic ceased. It is hard to know how bad it really was. Mursili says people were dying in great numbers, but of course he had to emphasize the epidemic&rsquos severity, to persuade the gods it was time to stop. Throughout his reign, he continued to wage war, thwart rebellions, and consolidate the empire his predecessors had built. Even if the epidemic decimated the Hittites (killing one out of every ten), evidently the kingdom suffered no shortage of men to fight and to rule.

    They may have emerged stronger. Absent a description of symptoms, speculation about what the disease was is futile. But Mursili can tell us how long it took before the epidemic went away. He says it had afflicted his realm for twenty years. There is no evidence that the epidemic continued after his Plague Prayers were composed, although surely Hittites did not cease immediately to suffer this disease or others. Twenty years is about a generation &ndash enough time for immune resistance to develop among successive age cohorts. That could be how long it will take us to deal with SARS-CoV-2.

    Watch the video: Battle of Kadesh 1274 BC Egyptian - Hittite War DOCUMENTARY (August 2022).