Friday, July 18, 2008

Just the Facts II - The Hittites

I have always found Ancient History fascinating (although for that matter I find most History fascinating). However Ancient History is unique in that it relies so much on archeaological discoveries and puzzle solvingf to elucidate its chronologies, patterns of events and interpretations. In an earlier post I discussed the Mespotamians - today's post focuses on the Hittites.

  • Dominated Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) between 1750 and 1180 BC
  • Hittite History is divided into three kingdoms: Old (1750-1500BC), Middle(1500-1430BC) and the New(1430-1180BC)
  • Were a relatively open minded and liberal civilization in comparisson to those of Mesppotamia - Hittite Laws rarely made use of the death penalty
  • Had many deities in fact the Hittites were called the 'people of the thousand gods'. These included: Arinna - the sun goddess, Tarhunt - god of thunder who battles the serpent Illuyanka and Ishara - the goddess of the oath
  • Famous leaders include: Labarnas II(unified people - set up capital at Hattusa), Musilis (grandson of Labarnas - won control of Syrian trading routes and reached Babylon), Suppiluliumas I (defeated Mittanian kingdom - set up Hittite Empire), Muwattlalis (Rival of Egyptian pharaoh Ramases II - fought Ramases' trrops to a stalemate at Kadesh) and Hattusillis III (concluded peace treaty with the Egyptians)
  • The city of Troy is believed to be a Hittite vassal state
  • Its Empire was bought down by attacks from the Sea People and Archaen Greeks.
  • Smaller Hittite kingdoms in Syria and Asia minor surived until the seventh century BC.
  • Kingdoms were finally overrun by the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
  • The Hittites spoke an Indo-European language
  • The Hittites should not be confused with Hattians an earlier population that occupied thec Asia Minor region
  • Hittites are thought to be an influential force in driving the Iron Age. They were well known for their chariot construction.
  • Some useful sites on the Hittites include: - has a King's list and an excellent Map of theHittite Empire; and
  • The Hittites are mentioned in the Bible - in Genesis Abraham buys land from a Hittite for example, Esau marries a Hittite woman. They are also mentioned in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Chronicles, Kings, Ezekiel and Ezra. For more read:D. J. Wiseman, Peoples of the Old Testament Times, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1973)
  • Like the Mespotamians the Hittites used cuneiform letters
  • The Hittites are thought to have had the first constitutional monarchy
  • Another imporant Hittite city was that of Nesa

No comments: