History of the Hittites and the Hittite Empire

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Around the second millennia B.C. Indo Europeans tribes from north of India similar to the Aryans invaded Asia Minor. The Hittites, and later the Greeks, Romans, Celts and nearly all Europeans and North Americans descended from these tribes. They carried bronze daggers.

The Hittites were charioteers who wrote manuals on horsemanship. Ninth century B.C. stone reliefs show Hittite warriors in chariots. "Charioteers were the first great aggressors in human history," the historian Jack Keegan wrote. They had an easy time conquering the nomads and farmers that inhabited the region. Donkeys were their fastest animal. See Horsemen.

The Hittites were rivals of ancient Egypt. The were powerful from the 20th to 13th century B.C. and controlled an area that roughly corresponds to modern Turkey and Syria. Around 2000 B.C. the Hittites were unified under a king named Labarna. A later king pushed their domain into Mesopotamia and Syria. The empire lasted into 1650 B.C. A more powerful kingdom rose in 1450 B.C. This kingdom possessed iron.

Arrival of the Indo-Europeans and Hittites in Asia Minor

Indo-European (Aryan) intrusions into Iran and Asia Minor (Anatolia, Turkey) began about 3000 B.C.. The Indo-European tribes originated in the great central Eurasian Plains and spread into the Danube River valley possibly as early as 4500 B.C., where they may have been the destroyers of the Vinca Culture. Iranian tribes entered the plateau which now bears their name in the middle around 2500 B.C. and reached the Zagros Mountains which border Mesopotamia to the east by about 2250 B.C.. The Guti may have been Indo-European.

Hittites and related tribes began entering Anatolia [modern Turkey] from both the northwest (the European Balkans) and the northeast (Russian Georgia) after 3000 B.C.. They conquered and partially absorbed the former residents [the Hatti, from whom the Hittites drew their name]. Small kingdoms were formed and there was some trade with Old Assyria. At some time after 2000 B.C. the separate Hittite kingdoms confederated under the leadership of a king called King, Great King, King of Kings.

This title was common in the ancient world and is frequently translated as emperor. Like many other early Indo-European kingships, the top position was not passed by way of primogeniture; the successor could be any male member of the ruling family. As a result, civil wars frequently determined the succession; and the "Empire" of the Hittites could not maintain a consistent strength because of quarrels over succession. The same is true of related peoples like the Hurrians and the Mitanni. In 1600 B.C. the Hittite Empire was very powerful, but after the successful raid on Babylon in 1590, the Hittites entered a period of weakness.

Early History of the Hittites

Neo-Hittite states

According to Crystal Links: “The history of the Hittite civilization is known mostly from cuneiform texts found in the area of their empire, and from diplomatic and commercial correspondence found in various archives in Egypt and the Middle East. [Source: Crystal Links +/]

“Around 2000 B.C., the region centered in Hattusa, that would later become the core of the Hittite kingdom, was inhabited by people with a distinct culture who spoke a non-Indo-European language. The name "Hattic" is used by Anatolianists to distinguish this language from the Indo-European Hittite language, that appeared on the scene at the beginning of the 2nd millennium B.C. and became the administrative language of the Hittite kingdom over the next six or seven centuries. As noted above, "Hittite" is a modern convention for referring to this language. The native term was Nesili, i.e. "In the language of Nesa". +/

“The early Hittites, whose prior whereabouts are unknown, borrowed heavily from the pre-existing Hattian culture, and also from that of the Assyrian traders - in particular, the cuneiform writing and the use of cylindrical seals. +/

“Since Hattic continued to be used in the Hittite kingdom for religious purposes, and there is substantial continuity between the two cultures, it is not known whether the Hattic speakers - the Hattians - were displaced by the speakers of Hittite, were absorbed by them, or just adopted their language. +/

“The early history of the Hittite kingdom is known through tablets that may first have been written in the 17th century B.C. but survived only as copies made in the 14th and 13th centuries B.C.. These tablets, known collectively as the Anitta tex, begin by telling how Pithana the king of Kussara or Kussar (a small city-state yet to be identified by archaeologists) conquered the neighbouring city of Nesa (Kanesh). However, the real subject of these tablets is Pithana's son Anitta, who continued where his father left off and conquered several neighboring cities, including Hattusa and Zalpuwa (Zalpa).” +/

Hittite Timeline and King List

Old Hittite Kingdom (1750 - 1500 B.C.) Hattusa becomes the capital
Middle Hittite Kingdom (1500 - 1450 B.C.)
New Hittite Kingdom (Empire) (1450 - 1180 B.C.): Suppiluliumas I conquers Syria; Muwatalli attacks Egyptians (Kadesh)

King of Samal

Old Kingdom
Labarna, ?-1650,
Hattusili I, 1650-1620, grandson
Mursili I, 1620-1590, grandson, adopted son
Hantili I, 1590-1560, brother-in-law
Zidanta I, son-in-law
Ammuna, 1560-1525, son
Huzziya I, brother of Ammuna’s daughter-in-law
Telepinu, 1525-1500, brother-in-law
Alluwamna, son-in-law
Tahurwaili, interloper

Middle Kingdom
Hantili II, 1500-1400, son of Alluwamna
Zidanta II, son
Huzziya II, son
Muwatalli I, interloper

New Kingdom
Tudhaliya I/II, grandson of Huzziya II
Arnuwanda I, 1400-1360, son-in-law, adopted son
Hattusili II , son
Tudhaliya III, 1360-1344, son
Suppiluliuma I, 1344-1322, son
Arnuwanda II, 1322-1321, son
Mursili II, 1321-1295, brother
Muwatilli II, 1295-1272, son
Urhi-Teshub, 1272-1267, son
Hattusili III, 1267-1237, uncle
Tudhaliya IV, 1237-1228, son
Kurunta, 1228-1227, cousin
Tudhaliya IV+, 1227-1209, cousin
Arnuwanda III, 1209-1207, son
Suppiluliuma II, 1207-?, brother
[Source: Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites, Oxford, 1998, pp.xiii-xiv. Ancient Near East.net,
Includes period of coregency, + Second reign as king. According to Bryce: “All dates are approximate. When it is impossible to suggest even approximate dates for the individual reigns of two or more kings in sequence, the period covered by the sequence is roughly calculated on the basis of 20 years per reign. While obviously some reigns were longer than this, and some shorter, the averaging out of these reigns probably produces a result with a reasonably small margin of error.”

Important Hittite Kings

Hattusili III

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “Sometime around 1650 B.C., under Hattushili I, the city of Hattusha was established as the Hittite capital. Situated on a plateau, Hattusha was heavily fortified over time with elaborate defensive walls and gateways. From this secure base, Hattushili led his armies south onto the plains of Syria. His son, Murshili I, continued these advances by raiding the important city of Halab (Aleppo) and plundering Babylon far to the south in Mesopotamia. On his return to Anatolia, however, the king was assassinated and there followed a succession of weak rulers and a long period of inactivity. Around 1420 B.C., a new line of more energetic kings came to power in Hattusha. Nonetheless, the Hittites seem to have suffered considerable problems in the early fourteenth century B.C.: the so-called Gashga people, who lived in the Pontic Alps to the north of Hittite territory, launched raids and may even have destroyed Hattusha; the dominant power of Egypt under Amenhotep III (r. 1390–1352 B.C.) attempted to undermine the Hittites by establishing diplomatic relations with the powerful state of Arzawa in western Anatolia; and raids against Cyprus (claimed by the Hittites as their territory) were undertaken by Ahhiyawa (perhaps Achaean Greeks). [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "The Hittites", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2002, metmuseum.org \^/]

However, under Tudhaliya III (r. 1380–1360 B.C.) and his son Shuppiluliuma I (r. 1370–1330 B.C.), the situation was reversed. Shuppiluliuma consolidated the empire in the north and Hattusha was reconquered and strongly fortified. He then advanced into Syria, establishing Carchemish as a royal center. Egypt now seems to have recognized the Hittites as an equal power: indeed, a later Hittite text refers to an Egyptian queen (perhaps the widow of Tutankhamun) writing to Shuppiluliuma to request marriage with one of his sons. Plague, brought back to Anatolia from the Levant by Hittite soldiers and prisoners of war, cut short the achievements of Shuppiluliuma. However, his conquests were consolidated and expanded by his son Murshili II (r. 1330–1295 B.C.), whose greatest success was against Arzawa in the west, which was reduced to the status of a subject-state.

Under Muwatalli (r. 1295–1282 B.C.), the Hittite capital moved south to Tarhuntasha, perhaps because of the continued threat from the Gashga people. However, control of western Anatolia was maintained and possibly expanded with a treaty agreed between the Hittites and a certain Alaksandu of Wilusa (perhaps Troy). In the Levant, Hittite power was also strengthened when Egypt under Ramesses II attempted to expand beyond the region of Kadesh (Qadesh). Muwatalli's defeat of an Egyptian army led to Hittite control as far south as Damascus. Peace between Egypt and the Hittites was eventually established under Hattushili III (r. 1275–1245 B.C.), prompted perhaps by the growing power of Assyria in northern Mesopotamia.

Under Tudhaliya IV (r. 1245–1215 B.C.), Hattusha was further strengthened and the king completed the construction of a nearby religious sanctuary, known today as Yazilikaya (Turkish: "inscribed rock"). However, during his reign, the empire began to suffer setbacks.

Hattusha: the Hittite Capital

Hattusa reconstructed wall
According to UNESCO: “Hattusha: the Hittite Capital is located in Boğazkale District of Çorum Province, in a typical landscape of the Northern Central Anatolian Mountain Region. It lies at the south end of the Budaközü Plain, on a slope rising approximately 300 meters above the valley, and is divided by the Kızlarkayası creek into the lower city in the north and the upper city in the south. The archaeological site of Hattusha is notable for its urban organization, the types of construction that have been preserved (temples, royal residences, fortifications), the rich ornamentation of the Lions' Gate and the Royal Gate, and the ensemble of rock art at Yazilikaya. The city enjoyed considerable influence in Anatolia and northern Syria in the 2nd millennium B.C. [Source: UNESCO World Heritage Site website =]

“The property consists of the Hittite city area, the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya on the north, the ruins of Kayalı Boğaz on the east and the İbikçam Forest on the south. A monumental enclosure wall of more than 8 km in length surrounds the whole city. There are remains of older walls around the lower city and section walls dividing the large city area in separate districts. The ruins of the upper city’s fortification form a double wall with more than a hundred towers and, as far as is known today, five gateways: two in the west, the Lion’s Gate in the south-west, the King’s Gate in the south-east and a procession gate, the Sphinx Gate in the south of the city. The latter is located on top of a high artificial bastion with stone-plastered slopes, with two staircases leading to the gateway at the top and an arched stone tunnel running underneath. The impressive ruins of fortifications, placed on rocky peaks in the centre of the Upper City, bear witness to the complexity of Hittite rock masonry, and the longest known Hittite hieroglyphic inscription from the Hittite Empire can be found in the Upper City at Nişantepe. =

“The best-preserved ruin of a Hittite Temple from the 13th century B.C., known as Great Temple, is located in the Lower City. Other temples of similar date and shape, albeit generally smaller, are situated in the Upper City, which mostly consisted of a temple city for the gods and goddesses of the Hittite and Hurrian pantheon. The remains of a densely inhabited city district were unearthed in the Lower City, where their foundations and arrangement can still be seen in the area north from Great Temple. =

Alaca Huyuk

“The famous rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya, which is an open-air temple with two natural chambers cut into the bedrock, lies 2 km northeast of the capital, on a slope of a mountain barrier. The walls of the rock chambers are covered with the richest and most striking samples of Hittite relief art, featuring gods and goddesses and the figures of the Great King Tuthaliya IV. Kayalı Boğaz, first mentioned in cuneiform inscriptions, is a large fortified settlement located 1.5 km east of the King’s Gate. It may have served as one of the outposts and strongholds, located in the countryside to watch and control the main roads leading to the city. The İbikçam Forest represents one of the last remaining examples of a dense forest covering the mountains south of the capital in Hittite times. = “Hattusha is an archaeological site remarkable for its urban organization, the types of construction and rich ornamentation that have been preserved and for the ensemble of rock art. Efforts by the German Archaeology Institute, in close cooperation with the Turkish authorities, have uncovered a large variety of buildings such as temples, palaces and dwellings, but also technical and communal installations such as large buried granaries and artificial water ponds. The city’s fortifications, along with the Lions’ Gate, the Royal Gate and the Yazılıkaya rupestral ensemble and its sculptured friezes, represent unique artistic achievements. Hattusha exerted a dominating influence upon the civilizations of the 2nd and 1st millennia B.C. in Anatolia and northern Syria. The palaces, temples, trading quarters and necropolis of this political and religious metropolis provide a comprehensive picture of a Hittite capital and bear a unique testimony to the now extinct Hittite civilization. Several types of buildings or architectural ensembles are perfectly preserved in Hattusha: the royal residence, the temples and the fortifications.” =

Hittite Old Kingdom

According to Crystal Links: “The founding of the Hittite Empire is usually attributed to Hattusili I, who conquered the plain south of Hattusa, all the way to the outskirts of Yamkhad (modern-day Aleppo) in Syria. Though it remained for his heir, Mursili I, to conquer that city, Hattusili was clearly influenced by the rich culture he discovered in northern Mesopotamia, and founded a school in his capital to spread the cuneiform style of writing he encountered there. [Source: Crystal Links +/]

“Mursili continued the conquests of Hattusili, reaching through Mesopotamia and even ransacking Babylon itself in 1595 B.C. (although rather than incorporate Babylonia into Hittite domains, he seems to have instead turned it over to his Kassite allies, who were to rule it for the next four centuries). This lengthy campaign, however, 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 Empire was plunged into chaos. The Hurrians, a people living in the mountainous region along the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers took advantage of the situation to seize Aleppo and the surrounding areas for themselves, as well as the coastal region of Adaniya, renaming it Kizzuwadna (later Cilicia). +/

Hittite rule

“Following this, the Hittites entered a weak phase of obscure records, insignificant rulers, and reduced area of control. This pattern of expansion under strong kings followed by contraction under lesser ones, was to be repeated over and over again throughout the Hittite Empire's 500-year history, making events during the waning periods difficult to reconstruct with much precision. +/

“The next monarch of any note following Mursili I was Telepinu (ca. 1500 B.C.), who won a few victories to the southwest, apparently by allying himself with one Hurrian state (Kizzuwadna) against another (Mitanni). His reign marked the end of the "Old Kingdom" and the beginning of the lengthy weak phase known as the "Middle Kingdom", whereof little is known. 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.” +/

New Kingdom

According to Crystal Links: “With the reign of Tudhaliya I (who may actually not have been the first of that name; see also Tudhaliya), the Hittite Empire re‘merges from the fog of obscurity. During his reign (c. 1400), he again allied with Kizzuwadna, vanquished the Hurrian states of Aleppo and Mitanni, and expanded to the west at the expense of Arzawa (a Luwian state). [Source: Crystal Links +/]

“Another weak phase followed Tudhaliya I, and the Hittites' enemies from all directions were able to advance even to Hattusa and raze it. However, the Empire recovered its former glory under Suppiluliuma I (c. 1350), who again conquered Aleppo, reduced Mitanni to tribute under his son-in-law, and defeated Carchemish, another Syrian city-state. With his own sons placed over of all of these new conquests, Babylonia still in the hands of the Kassites, and Assyria only newly independent with the crushing of Mitanni, this left Suppiluliuma the supreme power broker outside of Egypt, and it was not long before even that country was seeking an alliance by marriage of another of his sons with the widow of Tutankhamen. Unfortunately, that son was evidently murdered before reaching his destination, and this alliance was never consummated. +/

“After Suppiluliuma I, and a very brief reign by his eldest son, another son, Mursili II became king (c. 1330). Having inherited a position of strength in the east, Mursili was able to turn his attention to the west, where he attacked Arzawa and a city known as Millawanda in the coastal land of Ahhiyawa. Many recent scholars have surmised that Millawanda in Ahhiyawa is likely a reference to Miletus and Achaea known to Greek history, though there are a small number who have disputed this connection.

Hittite bas-relief

Hittites and Egyptians

During the New Kingdom in ancient Egypt (1539 to 1075 B.C.), the Egyptian empire extended southward to the land of Punt (Somalia) and the 5th Cataract near present-day Khartoum, Sudan, and eastward across the Middle East past Palestine and Syria to the Euphrates River of Mesopotamia. The powerful Hittites and Mitanni in the north at various times were both enemies and allies. Assyria and Babylon sent tributes.

Under the Pharaoh Akhenate, who ruled for 17 years from 1353 B.C. to his death in 1336 B.C., the Egyptian kingdom was neglected and Egypt's arch enemies the Hittites began encroaching from the east. In the middle of tense period with the Hittites, when Egypt’s possessions in Syria were being threatened, Akhenaten died. A Hittite text described an Egyptian attack on Kadesh in present-day Syria during Tutankhamun’s (King Tut’s) rule (1334 to 1325 B.C.).

After Tutankhamun’s death there was a vacuum of power and major crisis to fill it. Tutankhamun’s wife Anhesanamun launched a coup and pleaded for help from the Hittites. “My husband is dead,” she wrote them. “Send me your son and I will make him king.” The Hittite prince Zannanza was sent to marry her but he was killed — presumably by an assassin — as he entered Egyptian territory.

Zahi Hawass wrote in National Geographic, “We know that after Tutankhamun's death, an Egyptian queen, most likely Ankhesenamun, appeals to the king of the Hittites, Egypt's principal enemies, to send a prince to marry her, because "my husband is dead, and I have no son." The Hittite king sends one of his sons, but he dies before reaching Egypt. I believe he was murdered by Horemheb, the commander in chief of Tutankhamun's armies, who eventually takes the throne for himself. But Horemheb too dies childless, leaving the throne to a fellow army commander. The new pharaoh's name was Ramses I. With him begins another dynasty, one which, under the rule of his grandson Ramses the Great, would see Egypt rise to new heights of imperial power.

Ramses the Great, also known as Ramses II, had eight wives — including his younger sister and three daughters — and numerous concubines, which included several Hittite princesses. At the Temple in Abu Simbel are also a number of dedications. Important among these is one of Ramses II's marriage to the daughter of a Hittite king. Beyond the entrance is the Great Hall of Pillars, with eight 32-foot-high pillars of Ramses defied as the God Osiris. The walls have inscriptions recording the Battle of Kadesh against the Hittites.

Ramses, the Hittites and the Battle of Kadesh

The Egyptians and Hittites challenged one another for control of the eastern Mediterranean. The Hittites had iron weapons, the Egyptians didn’t. In 1288 B.C., the fifth year of his reign, Ramses and his young sons mounted chariots and led an army of 20,000 men — a huge number at that time — to Syria for a "superpower showdown" against the Hittite king Muwatallis, whose a force was nearly twice as big as the Egyptian force. ♣

At stake was Kadesh, a fortress town in Syria that guarded the trade routes to the east (the Egyptians, and probably, the Hittites imported silk from China). Seti I, Ramses father, had captured the city, but when he returned to Egypt, the Hittites recaptured it.

Ramses's army was surprised by an ambush from the Hittites outside of Kadesh and the Egyptian army scattered. According to an inscription of dubious merit, Ramses found himself abandoned but nevertheless mounted his chariot and led a charge and Egyptian reinforcements arrived and this time the Hittites were on the run. In reality the Egyptians were routed but neither side was able to gain territory on the other, so Ramses went home and raised a monument to declare his great victory.

Ramses led military campaigns against the Hittites until he was in his 40s. After 15 years of fighting the Egyptians and Hittites signed a peace treaty that proved to be so cordial that the Hittite king Hattusilis III sent his eldest daughter,Maat-Hor-Nefersure to wed Ramses II in 1246 B.C. The marriage almost didn't come off because of a last minute argument between Ramses II and Hattusilis over the dowry.

The marriage between Ramses and Maat-Hor-Nefersure ushered in a long period of peace and prosperity that lasted until Ramses' death. Ramses later married another one of Hattusilis's daughters. The Hitittes may have even sent craftsman to Egypt to make iron shields and weapons for the Egyptians. Iron was introduced by the Hittites in the 13th century but wasn't common until the 6th or 7th century B.C.♣

The Battle of Kadesh marked the beginning of a decline for the Hittites. After the fall of the empire a number of small Hittite states were created. By the 8th century they were absorbed by the Assyrians.

Battle of Kadesh, See Ramses II, Egyptians


The Hittites and the Hykos were the first people in the Middle East to use chariots. Chariots came before mounted riders. Around 1700 B.C., the Hyksos — a mysterious Semitic tribe from Caucasia in the northeast — invaded Egypt from Canaan and routed the Egyptians. The Hyksos were a chariot people. They and the Hittites were the first people to use chariots in the Middle East, an advancement that gave them an advantage over the people they conquered. The Hyksos introduced the horse and chariot to the Egyptians, who later used them to expand their empire.

Hyksos rule over Egypt was brief. They established themselves for a while in Memphis and exactly how they came to power is not clear. Later they established a capital in Avaris, along the Mediterranean in the Nile Delta. During the Second Intermediate Period they ruled northern Egypt while Thebes-based Egyptians ruled southern Egypt. In the 2nd Intermediate Period, the four rulers during 15 and 16 dynasties were Hyksos.

The Hyksos were thrown out of Egypt in 1567 B.C. Chronicles that portray Hyksos rule as cruel and repressive were probably Egyptian propaganda. More likely they came to power within the existing system rather than conquering it and ruled by respecting the local culture and keeping political and administrative systems intact.

Fall of the Hittite Kingdom

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: “ Under Tudhaliya IV (r. 1245–1215 B.C.), Hattusha was further strengthened and the king completed the construction of a nearby religious sanctuary. However, during his reign, the empire began to suffer setbacks. The Assyrians launched attacks against the eastern borders of the empire as well as in Syria, reducing Hittite territory in these regions. At the same time, Hittite dependencies in the west were being lost. Sometime around 1200 B.C., Hattusha was violently destroyed and never recovered. Who destroyed the capital is unknown but it was apparently part of the wider collapse of Hittite power. The reasons for the rapid disappearance of the Hittites, who had dominated Anatolia for centuries, remain unexplained. However, Hittite traditions were maintained in northern Syria by a number of dynasties established under the empire, such as at Carchemish, which continued to flourish through the early centuries of the first millennium B.C. [Source: Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. "The Hittites", Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 2002, metmuseum.org \^/]

Treaty of Kadesh

According to Crystal Links: “After this date, the power of the Hittites began to decline yet again, as the Assyrians had seized the opportunity to vanquish Mitanni and expand to the Euphrates while Muwatalli was preoccupied with the Egyptians. Assyria now posed equally as great a threat to Hittite trade routes as Egypt had ever been. His son, Urhi-Teshub, took the throne as Mursili III, but was quickly ousted by his uncle, Hattusili III after a brief civil war. In response to increasing Assyrian encroachments along the frontier, he concluded a peace and alliance with Rameses II, presenting his daughter's hand in marriage to the Pharoah. The "Treaty of Kadesh", one of the oldest completely surviving treaties in history, fixed their mutual boundaries in Canaan, and was signed in the 21st year of Rameses (c. 1258 B.C.). [Source: Crystal Links +/]

“Hattusili's son, Tudhaliya IV, was the last strong Hittite king able to keep the Assyrians out of Syria and even temporarily annex the island of Cyprus. The very last king, Suppiluliuma II also managed to win some victories, including a naval battle against the Sea Peoples off the coast of Cyprus. But it was too late. +/

“The Sea Peoples had already begun their push down the Mediterranean coastline, starting from the Aegean, and continuing all the way to Philistia — taking Cilicia and Cyprus away from the Hittites en route and cutting off their coveted trade routes. This left the Hittite homelands vulnerable to attack from all directions, and Hattusa was burnt to the ground sometime around 1180 B.C. following a combined onslaught from Gasgas, Bryges and Luwians. The Hittite Empire thus vanished from the historical record. +/

“By 1160 B.C., the political situation in Asia Minor looked vastly different than it had only 25 years earlier. In that year, the Assyrians were dealing with the Mushku pressing into northernmost Mesopotamia from the Anatolian highlands, and the Gasga people, the Hittites' old enemies from the northern hill-country between Hatti and the Black Sea, seem to have joined them soon after. The Mushku or Mushki had apparently overrun Cappadocia from the West, with recently discovered epigraphic evidence confirming their origins as the Balkan "Bryges" tribe, forced out by the Macedonians. +/

“A large and powerful state known as Tabal had occupied the region south of these. Their language appears to have been Luwian, related to Hittite, but usually written in hieroglyphics instead of cuneiform. Several lesser city-states extending from here to Northern Syria also used Luwian, although they are sometimes known as "neo-Hittite". Soon after these upheavals began, both hieroglyphs and cuneiform were rendered obsolete by a new innovation, the alphabet, that seems to have entered Anatolia simultaneously from the Aegean (with the Bryges, who changed their name to Phrygians), and from the Phoenicians and neighboring peoples in Syria. +/

“Ironically, the language of the Lydians, spoken in the West of Asia Minor until the 1st century B.C., was apparently a linguistic descendant of Hittite, and not Luwian. This and the fact that one of Lydia's kings known to the Greeks bore the Hittite royal name Myrsilis (Mursilis) may indicate that this state was the purest cultural and ethnic continuation of the former Hittites. The last trace of this language persisted until the 5th century AD, according to some Church Fathers, when it was known as the tiny dialect of Isaurian, spoken in only one or two villages.”+/

“Although the Hittites disappeared from most of Anatolia after c.1200 B.C., there remained a number of so-called Neo-Hittite kingdoms in northern Syria. The most notable Neo-Hittite kingdoms were those at Carchemish and Milid (near the later Melitene). These Neo-Hittite Kingdoms were gradually conquered by the Assyrians, who conquered Carchemish during the reign of Sargon II in the late 8th century B.C., and Milid several decades later.” +/

Akkadians, Amorites and Hittites

20120209-AnkaraMuseumAlaca2.jpg Morris Jastrow said: Two factors exercised “a decided influence in further modifying the Sumero-Akkadian culture; one of these is the Amoritish influence, the other is a conglomeration of peoples collectively known as the Hittites. From the days of Sargon we find frequent traces of the Amorites; and there is at least one deity in the pantheon of this early period who was imported into the Euphrates Valley from the west, the home of the Amorites. This deity was a storm god known as Adad, appearing in Syria and Palestine as Hadad. According to Professor Clay, most of the other prominent members of what eventually became the definitely constituted Babylonian pantheon betray traces of having been subjected to this western influence. Indeed, Professor Clay goes even further and would ascribe many of the parallels between Biblical and Babylonian myths, traditions, customs, and rites to an early influence exerted by Amurru (which he regards as the home of the northern Semites) on Babylonia, and not, as has been hitherto assumed, to a western extension of Babylonian culture and religion. [Source: Morris Jastrow, Lectures more than ten years after publishing his book “Aspects of Religious Belief and Practice in Babylonia and Assyria” 1911]

“It is too early to pronounce a definite opinion on this interesting and novel thesis; but, granting that Professor Clay has pressed his views beyond legitimate bounds, there can no longer be any doubt that in accounting for the later and for some of the earlier aspects of the Sumero-Akkadian civilisation this factor of Amurru must be taken into account; nor is it at all unlikely that long before the days of Sargon, a wave of migration from the north and north-west to the south and south-east had set in, which brought large bodies of Amorites into the Euphrates Valley as well as into Assyria. The circumstance that, as has been pointed out, the earliest permanent settlements of Semites in the Euphrates Valley appear to be in the northern portion, creates a strong presumption in favour of the view which makes the Semites come into Babylonia from the north-west.

“Hittites do not make their appearance in the Euphrates Valley until some centuries after Sargon, but since it now appears that ca. 1800 B.C. they had become strong enough to invade the district, and that a Hittite ruler actually occupied the throne of Babylonia for a short period, we are justified in carrying the beginnings of Hittite influence back to the time at least of the Ur dynasty. This conclusion is strengthened by the evidence for an early establishment of a Hittite principality in north-western Mesopotamia, known as Mitanni, which extended its sway as early at least as 2100 B.C. to Assyria proper.

“Thanks to the excavations conducted by the German expedition at Kalah-Shergat (the site of the old capital of Assyria known as Ashur), we can now trace the beginnings of Assyria several centuries further back than was possible only a few years ago. The proper names at this earliest period of Assyrian history show a marked Hittite or Mitanni influence in the district, and it is significant that Ushpia, the founder of the most famous and oldest sanctuary in Ashur, bears a Hittite name. The conclusion appears justified that Assyria began her rule as an extension of Hittite control. With a branch of the Hittites firmly established in Assyria as early as ca. 2100 B.C., we can now account for an invasion of Babylonia a few centuries later. The Hittites brought their gods with them, as did the Amorites, and, with the gods, religious conceptions peculiarly their own. Traces of Hittite influence are to be seen e.g., in the designs on the seal cylinders, as has been recently shown by Dr. Ward, who, indeed, is inclined to assign to this influence a share in the religious art, and, therefore, also in the general culture and religion, much larger than could have been suspected a decade ago.

“Who those Hittites were we do not as yet know. Probably they represent a motley group of various peoples, and they may turn out to be Aryans. It is quite certain that they originated in a mountainous district, and that they were not Semites. We should thus have a factor entering into the Babylo-nian-Assyrian civilisation—leaving its decided traces in the religion—which was wholly different from the two chief elements in that civilisation—the Sumerian and the Akkadian.”

Hittite-Akkadian Treaty between Mursilis and Duppi-Tessub

20120209-Female_statuette_alacahoyuk.jpg Preamble: These are the words of the Sun Mursilis, the great king, the king of the Hatti land, the valiant, the favorite of the Storm-god, the son of Suppiluliuma, the great king, the king of the Hatti land, the valiant. [Source: Ancient Near Eastern Texts, ed. by J. B. Pritchard (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 203-205, Internet Archive, from Creighton]

Historical Prologue: Aziras was the grandfather of you, Duppi-Tessub. He rebelled against my father, but submitted again to my father. When the kings of Nuhasse land and the kings of Kinza rebelled against my father, Aziras did not rebel. As he was bound by treaty, he remained bound by treaty. As my father fought against his enemies, in the same manner fought Aziras. Aziras remained loyal toward my father as his overlord as did not incite my father's anger. My father was loyal toward Aziras and his country; he did not undertake any unjust action against him or incite his or his country's anger in any way. 300 shekels of refined and first-class gold, the tribute which my father had imposed upon your father, he brought year for year; he never refused it.

When my father became god (i.e. died) and I seated myself on the throne of my father, Aziras behaved toward me just as he had behaved toward my father. It happened that the Nuhasse kings and the king of Kinza rebelled a second time against me. But Aziras, your grandfather, and DU-Tessub, your father did not take their side; they remained loyal to me as their lord. When he grew too old and could no longer go to war and fight, DU-Tessub fought against the enemy with the foot soldiers and the charioteers of the Amurru land just as he had fought with foot soldiers and charioteers against the enemy. And the Sun destroyed them.

When your father died, in accordance with your father's word I did not drop you. Since your father had mentioned to me your name with great praise, I sought after to you. To be sure, you were sick and ailing, but although you were ailing, I, the Sun, put you in the place of your father and took your brothers and sisters and the Amurru land in oath for you.

When I, the Sun, sought after you in accordance with your father's word and put you in your father's place, I took you in oath for the king of the Hatti land, the Hatti land, and for my sons and grandsons. So honor the oath of loyalty to the king and the king's kin! And I, the king, will be loyal toward you, Duppi-Tessub. When you take a wife, and when you beget an heir, he shall be king in the Amurru land likewise. And just as I shall be loyal toward you, even so shall I be loyal toward your son. Stipulations

But you, Duppi-Tessub, remain loyal toward the king of the Hatti land, the Hatti land, my sons and my grandsons forever! The tribute which was imposed upon your grandfather and your father-they presented 300 shekels of good, refined first-class gold weighed with standard weights-you shall present it likewise. Do not turn your eyes to anyone else! Your fathers presented tribute to Egypt; you shall not do that!

With my friend you shall be friend, and with my enemy you shall be enemy. If the kings of the Hatti land is either in the Hurri land, or in the land of Egypt, or in the country of Astata, or in the country of Alse-any country contiguous to the territory of your country that is friendly with the king of the Hatti land-as the country of Mukis, the country of Halba and the country of Kinza-but turns around and becomes inimical toward the king of the Hatti land while the king of the Hatti land is on a marauding campaign-if then you, Duppi-Tessub, do not remain loyal together with your foot soldiers and your charioteers and if you do not fight wholeheartedly; or if I should send a prince or a high officer with foot soldiers and charioteers to re-enforce you, Duppi-Tessub, for the purpose of going out to maraud in another country-if then you, Duppi-Tessub, do not fight wholeheartedly that enemy with your army and your charioteers and speak as follows: "I am under an oath of loyalty, but how am I to know whether they will beat the enemy, or the enemy will beat them?"; or if you even send a man to that enemy and inform him as follows: "An army and charioteers of the Hatti land are on their way; be on your guard!"-if you do such things, you act in disregard of your oath.

As I, the Sun, am loyal toward you, you shall extend military help to the Sun and the Hatti land. If an evil rumor originates in the Hatti land that someone is to rise in revolt against the Sun and you hear it, leave with your foot soldiers and your charioteers and go immediately to the aid of the king of the Hatti land! But if your are not able to leave yourself, dispatch either your son or your brother together with your foot soldiers and your charioteers to the aid of the king of the Hatti land! If you do not dispatch your son or your brother with your foot soldiers and your charioteers to the aid of the king of the Hatti land, you act in disregard of the gods of the oath.

If anyone should press you hard, Duppi-Tessub, or if anyone should revolt against you, if you then write to the king of the Hatti land, and the king of the Hatti land dispatches foot soldiers and charioteers to your aid-if you treat them in an unfair manner, you act in disregard of the gods of the oath.

If they take Hittites-foot soldiers and charioteers-through Duppi-Tessub's territory and Duppi-Tessub provides them while passing through his towns with food and drink-if that army engages in any misconduct-pilfering in his country or his towns or in an attempt at deposing Duppi-Tessub from his kingship-it acts in disregard of the oath.

If anyone of the deportees from the Nuhasse land or of the deportees from the country of Kinza whom my father removed and myself removed escapes and comes to you, if you do not seize him and turn him back to the king of the Hatti land, and even tell him as follows: "Go! Where you are going to, I do not want to know," you act in disregard of your oath.

If anyone utters words unfriendly toward the king or the Hatti land before you, Duppi-Tessub, you shall not withhold his name from the king. Or if the Sun gives you an order in secrecy saying: "Do this or that!" if that order cannot be executed, petition about it on the spot stating: "This order I cannot execute and will not execute," and the king will reconsider it then and there. But if you do not execute an order which can well be executed and deceive the king, or if you do not keep to yourself the word which the king told you in secrecy, you act in disregard of the oath.

If a country or a fugitive takes to the road and while betaking themselves to the Hatti land pass through your territory, put them on the right way, show them the way to the Hatti land and speak friendly words to them! Do not send them to anyone else! If you do not put them on the right way, if you do not guide them on the right way to the Hatti land, but direct them into the mountains or speak unfriendly words before them, you act in disregard of the oath.

Or if the king of the Hatti land is getting the better of a country and puts them to flight, and they come to your country, if then you desire to take anything from them, ask the king of the Hatti land for it! You shall not take it on your own! If you lay hand on it by yourself or conceal it, you act in disregard of the oath.

Furthermore, if a fugitive comes to your country, seize him!

Witnesses: The Sun-god of Heaven, the Sun-goddess of Arinna, the Storm-god of Heaven, the Hattian Storm-god, Seris and Hurris, Mount Nanni and Mount Hazzi, the Storm-god of Halab, the Storm-god of Zippalanda, the Storm-god of Nerik, the Storm-god of Lihzina, the Storm-god of Hissashapa, the Storm-god of Sabina, the Storm-god of Tahaya, the Storm-god of Bettiyarik, the Storm-god of Samuha, the Storm-god of Hurma, the Storm-god of Saressa, the Storm-god of Uda, the Storm-god of Kizzuwatna, the Storm-god of Ishupitta, the Storm-god of Nuhasse;

the Patron-god, the Hattian Patron-god, Zithariyas, Hapantalliyas, the Patron-god of Karahna, the Patron-god of the shield, Ea, Allatum, Telepinus of Durmitta, Telepinus of Tawiniya, Telepinus of Hanhana, Ishtar the Mighty, Askasepas;

Sin, lord of the oath, Ishara, queen of the oath, Hebat, queen of heaven, Ishtar, Ishtar of the battlefield, Ishtar of Nineveh, Ishtar of Hattarina, Ninatta and Kulitta, the Hattian Warrior-god, the Warrior-god of Ellaya, the Warrior-god of Arziya, Yarris, Zampanas;

Hantidassus of Hurma, Abaras of Samuhas, Katahhas of Ankuwa, the Queen of Katapa, Ammammas of Tahurpa, Hallaras of Dunna, Huwassanas of Hupisna, Tapisuwa of Ishupitta, the "Lady" of Landa, Kunniyawannis of Landa, NIN.PISAN.PISAN of Kinza, Mount Lablana, Mount Sariyana, Mount Pisaisa, the Lulahhi gods and the Hapiri gods, Ereskigal, the gods and goddesses of the Hatti land, the gods and goddesses of Amurru land, all the olden gods, Naras, Napsaras, Minki, Tuhusi, Ammunki, Ammizadu, Allalu, Anu, Antu, Apantu, Ellil, Ninlil, the mountains, the rivers, the springs, the great Sea, heaven and earth, the winds and the clouds-let these be witnesses to this treaty and to the oath. Curses and Blessings

The words of the treaty and the oath that are inscribed on this tablet-should Duppi-Tessub not honor these words of the treaty and the oath, may these gods of the oath destroy Duppi-Tessub together with his person, his wife, his son, his grandson, his house, his land and together with everything that he owns.

But if Duppi-Tessub honors these words of the treaty and the oath that are inscribed on this tablet, may these gods of the oath protect him together with his person, his wife, his son, his grandson, his house and his country.

Mycenaeans, New Kingdom Egypt, and the Hittites All Brought By the Luwians?

Colin Barras wrote in New Scientist: “The Trojan War was a grander event than even Homer would have us believe. The famous conflict may have been one of the final acts in what one archaeologist has controversially dubbed “World War Zero” – an event he claims brought the eastern Mediterranean Bronze Age world crashing down 3200 years ago. And the catalyst for the war? A mysterious and arguably powerful civilisation almost entirely overlooked by archaeologists: the Luwians. [Source: Colin Barras, New Scientist, May 12, 2016 +++]

“By the second millennium B.C. civilisation had taken hold throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The Egyptian New Kingdom coexisted with the Hittites of central Anatolia and the Mycenaeans of mainland Greece, among others. In little more than a single generation, they had all collapsed. Was the culprit climate change? Some sort of earthquake storm? Social unrest? Archaeologists can’t seem to agree. +++

“Eberhard Zangger, head of international non-profit, Luwian Studies, based in Zurich, Switzerland, says that’s because one crucial piece of the puzzle is missing. Another powerful civilisation in western Anatolia played a crucial role in the downfall. His investigations of the published literature show that western Anatolia is extraordinarily rich in mineral and metal ore deposits, meaning it’s likely to have been an important region in antiquity. Through studies of satellite imagery, Zangger has also found that the area was densely populated during the Late Bronze Age. Only a handful of the 340 large city-like sites he has identified have been excavated. “Some of these sites are so large you can see them from space,” says Zangger. “There’s so much waiting to be found it’s really just mind-boggling.”

“Hittite texts talk of several petty kingdoms in western Anatolia speaking versions of a common language – Luwian. According to Zangger, that means we can legitimately talk of them as forming a Luwian civilisation in their own right. We know from Hittite texts that the Luwian kingdoms sometimes formed coalitions powerful enough to attack the Hittite empire. Zangger thinks that 3200 years ago the Luwians did just that and destroyed the Hittite Empire. Shortly after the demise of the Hittites, Egyptian texts document an attack force they termed the “Sea People”. Zangger says it makes sense to view these Sea People as the Luwians, continuing their campaign for wealth and power and, in the process, weakening and destabilising the Egyptian New Kingdom. +++

“The Mycenaeans, perhaps anticipating an attack on their territory, formed a grand coalition of their own, says Zangger. They sailed across the Aegean and attacked the Luwians, bringing down their civilisation and destroying its key cities like Troy – events immortalised in Homer’s Iliad. On returning to Greece, however, and in the sudden absence of any other threat, Zangger believes the Mycenaeans squabbled and fell into civil war – events hinted at in Homer’s Odyssey. Their civilisation was the last in the area to collapse. +++

“Zangger says that only such a sequence of events fits with the evidence documented in ancient texts across the eastern Mediterranean, and also explains why the archaeological record shows that almost every large city in the region was destroyed in warfare at the end of the Bronze Age. He sets out his ideas in a new book, and on a website that launches in English today. +++

“So what do other archaeologists make of this idea of a lost Luwian civilisation? Many stopped trying to impose this sort of monolithic cultural identity on ancient peoples decades ago, says Christoph Bachhuber at the University of Oxford. “Archaeologists will need to discover similar examples of monumental art and architecture across western Anatolia and ideally texts from the same sites to support Zangger’s claim of a civilisation,” he says. The textual evidence available is mainly from post-Bronze age and it paints a slightly confusing picture, which could be seen as both supporting and undermining Zangger’s theory, says Ilya Yakubovich, a historical linguist at the Philipp University of Marburg, Germany. +++

Zangger’s broader “World War Zero” narrative is also debatable. “He’s bringing in this idea of ancient international warfare,” says Michael Galaty at Mississippi State University. “Most archaeologists would balk at using such terminology.” Bachhuber calls it “big bombastic storytelling” and points out that today, archaeologists are skeptical that ancient narratives like Homer’s approximate historical truth. +++

Zangger, however, says there are several other ancient accounts of the Trojan War that all tell a similar story to Homer. One, written in the first century AD, even refers to now-lost Egyptian monuments that documented the conflict. Despite these criticisms, though, there is near-universal praise for the fact that Zangger’s ideas will raise the profile of Late Bronze Age archaeological research in long-neglected western Anatolia, which can only benefit the scientific community. “He’s really getting the ball rolling to do larger holistic studies of the area,” says Bachhuber. “I’m actually quite excited that he’s bringing attention to this region.” +++

Did a 300-Year Drought Bring Down the Mycenaeans and Hittites

A 300-year drought may have caused the collapse of several Mediterranean cultures, including the Hittites and the Mycenaeans Tia Ghose wrote for Live Science: “A sharp drop in rainfall may have led to the collapse of several eastern Mediterranean civilizations, including ancient Greece, around 3,200 years ago. The resulting famine and conflict may help explain why the entire Hittite culture vanished from the planet, according to a study published in August 2013 in the journal PLOS ONE. [Source: Tia Ghose, Live Science, August 14, 2013]

“The ancient Hittite empire of Anatolia began a precipitous decline around 1,300 B.C. Around the same time, the Egyptian empire was invaded by marauding sea bandits, called the Sea People, and the ancient Mycenaean culture of Greece collapsed. Over the next 400 years, ancient cities were burned to the ground and were never rebuilt...But the cause of this Bronze Age collapse has been shrouded in mystery. Some archaeologists believed economic hardships caused the demise, while others proposed that massive tsunamis, earthquakes or a mega-drought was the cause.

“Past studies looking for drought typically only found evidence showing it occurred for short periods of time, making it hard to make conclusions about the whole period...Toward that end, David Kaniewski, an archaeologist at the University of Paul Sabatier-Toulouse in France, and his colleagues collected ancient sediment cores from Larnaca Salt Lake, near Hala Sultan Tekke in Cyprus. The lake was once a harbor, but became landlocked thousands of years ago.

“A decline in marine plankton and pollen from marine sea grass revealed that the lake was once a harbor that opened to the sea until around 1450 B.C., when the harbor transformed over 100 years into a landlocked lagoon. Pollen also revealed that by 1200 B.C., agriculture in the area dwindled and didn't rebound until about 850 B.C. “This climate shift caused crop failures, dearth and famine, which precipitated or hastened socioeconomic crises and forced regional human migrations," the authors write in the paper.

“The results bolster the notion that a massive drought caused the Bronze Age collapse, said Brandon Lee Drake, an archaeologist at the University of New Mexico, who was not involved in the study. “It's getting hard to argue that there wasn't as significant change in climate at that time." Famine may have caused the huge migration of people en masse — which may be the reason that the mysterious Sea People who invaded Egypt brought their families along, Drake said. As ancient cultures battled for dwindling resources, they burned the great cities of the day to the ground. In the heart of these dark ages, the ancient Mycenaens lost their writing system, called Linear B, and correspondence between countries slowed to a trickle, Drake said.

Ironically, those who suffered through those dark times may not have realized the cause of their misery. “It happened over 200 years. People may not have even recognized the climate was changing, because it was happening so slowly over their lifetime," Drake said.”

Hittite Archaeology

According to Crystal Links: “The first archaeological evidence for the Hittites appeared in tablets found at the Assyrian colony of Kultepe (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. [Source: Crystal Links +/]

“The script on a monument at Bogazkoy 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. Sayce's identification came to be widely accepted over the course of the early 20th century; and so, rightly or wrongly, the name "Hittite" has become attached to the civilization uncovered at Bogazkoy. +/

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, The Louvre, The British Museum, Anatolian Civilizations Museum in Ankara

Text Sources: Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Mesopotamia sourcebooks.fordham.edu , National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, especially Merle Severy, National Geographic, May 1991 and Marion Steinmann, Smithsonian, December 1988, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Discover magazine, Times of London, Natural History magazine, Archaeology magazine, The New Yorker, BBC, Encyclopædia Britannica, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Time, Newsweek, Wikipedia, Reuters, Associated Press, The Guardian, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “History of Warfare” by John Keegan (Vintage Books); “History of Art” by H.W. Janson Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.), Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Last updated September 2018

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