All About Hittites and the Hittite Empire
Hittites were a great empire that has lived in Asia-minor. In this post, we will go deep into the Hittites and their life in the history scene.
The Hittites and their cultures that lived since 1600 BC were erased from the history page a thousand years later. This nation, this culture is discovered only in the 20th century. They had become a political and cultural power in all of Anatolia and Syria, fought against Egypt, and became a giant power with their own writing, their own law, and religion. But there were no signs of them found for a long time.
It all starts with the French named Charles Felix Marie TEXIER (1802-1871). Texier came to Anatolia in 1834 to find a city named TAVIUM, which was mentioned in many places.
“My goal was to locate the old city of Cavium. All the clues showed that this city should be located in a fertile area on the shores of the old Halys (Kızılırmak). I mobilized my caravan on July 28, 1834. We were going north.’’
He comes to Boğazköy location, encounters some ruins and different hieroglyphs while walking alone. While exploring the surroundings, he saw a large building, two imposing gates, and a wall of about one kilometer in length.
Takes notes; “There is no structure here that can accommodate any of the Roman times. It is a city as big as Athens in its brightest age. ” Next time, Texier discovers YAZILIKAYA and its surroundings with the help of a villager.
This was definitely a holy place from ancient times. Who did it? Which nation was used for religious ceremonies?
In 1839 he published all these in his book “On Asia Minor“. And he states: “The ruins of Boğazköy prove the existence of a nation with a great culture”.
Later, it is seen by various archaeologists that the tablets in Hama (Syria) and Kargamış (G.Antep) and the hieroglyphs found in Yazılıkaya in the reliefs in Ivriz (Tarsus) are similar. Now there was a certain situation; A great nation lived in all of Anatolia and inside Syria. This nation had common writing and culture, but there was no single source mentioning them. Who were they?
The first evidence is found in the Torah. While the name of the Hittite in the Torah is underestimated in a few places. 2 Kings 7: 6: “Because the Lord announced to the Syrians the noise of horses, cars and a large army. So much so that they said in their car: Look, the Israel King once again agreed with the Hittite Kings and the Egyptian Kings to attack us. ” passes.
What is important here is that the Hittite Kingdom is remembered with or even before them, together with the Egyptian Kings, the most powerful rulers of the ancient world.
British Archibald Henry Sayce gives a conference in London in the light of all this data after making examinations in Anatolia. By showing the various parts of the Torah, he explains that all the finds belong to the HITTITE NATION. Sayce published his book “The Great Empire of the Hittites” in 1884. There were no noteworthy things in the book, but this nation was named in the heart of Anatolia: HITTITES would gain speed from now on.
The main sources for the full discovery of the Hittite civilization come from Egypt. On the Egyptian temple walls, detailed inscriptions describe the wars that Pharaoh 2. Ramses fought and won (!) Against the Hittite Kingdom. There was also the full text of an incredibly modern peace treaty that ended Egyptian-Hittite wars on the walls. Moreover, this treaty resulted in the marriage of a Hittite princess to Pharaoh.
The Assyrians also frequently talked about Hatti country, they talked about the wars of Egyptians with HETA. In 1887, it was a coincidence; in Tell El Amarna, 300 km south of Cairo, a fellah woman throws several earthen dishes (?) To protect them from the men who bother her. Those who were thrown into the heads of foreigners were Egypt’s largest and most important clay tablets archive ever.
These are called Amarna Tablets. Then an English archaeologist digs at Tell El Amarna finds many more tablets like this one. A year later, the Amarna Archive tablets are now in London and in Berlin.
Amarna tablets were written in cuneiform, which was previously dissolved, in the Akadic language used in the relations between countries in ancient times. The most interesting was that the Egyptian pharaohs were foreign policy correspondence.
There were very interesting letters among the Hittites. These are the congratulatory messages sent to the Pharaoh Ehnaton by the king of Hatti, who was named as ŞUPPİLULİUMA. Thus, the presence of the Hittite king named Shupipiluliuma, who lived in the same period as Pharaoh, was determined (14th century BCE).
It is also certain that the Hittites were an Anatolian people. Among these tablets, 2 letters to the King of Arzava were very interesting. These letters, which will later be called Arzava Letters, were written in a known but cuneiform language. There are many more tablets written in the same language in Boğazköy.
Together with German railroad engineer Carl Humann and Hugo Winckler, who is German like him, they make the plan and the copies of the reliefs. It is the first time that the Boğazköy ruins plan for the first time according to the correct scales (in the end, Humann misses tens of thousands of tablets to Berlin with Winckler).
In 1906-1908, this time German HUGO WİNCKLER got an excavation permit in Boğazköy. In the first year, the Winck had absolutely understood that he did not excavate only in a random Hittite city, but he broke up in the old capital of the Hatti Empire.
Because many of the important documents of the state were here. But what was the name of this city?
Often, the name of the country was also the name of the Hittite capital, a feature seen in the old East. So could a Capital Hatti name be derived from Hatti Country? Winckler came to this opinion.
By hitting his pickaxe, Winckler had actually revealed the heart and brain of the Hittite Kingdom. In his 1907 notes, he stated his assurance on this subject as follows: This newly created archive will require very long studies as an investigation.
It is justified in its predictions about the future. He found tens of thousands of tablets. One of them was very interesting; the tablet(in AKAD language) was the KADES agreement between Ramses on the Karnak wall and Hattusilis, the king of Hatti.
The Foundation Of The Kades Treaty
They brought a new tablet to the Winck one day. Until that day, this sick man, who had poisoned the life to himself, suddenly came alive. He tells the excitement he felt at that moment:
”After twenty days of work on August 20 (1907), we had progressed from the hole we opened between the piled stones at the foot of the hill to the first partition wall. A plate in very good condition was found here. I was startled by reviewing the written text. All the information I have gained throughout my life has been rolled into nothingness at once. In front of me, something stood still to be expected from the joke, even if it would only be a request.”
This was the letter; Ramses wrote to Hattusy about their mutual agreement. Although the number of broken tablet pieces found in the last few days mentioning the treaty between these two states has increased steadily, this text alone fully confirmed the famous treaty we learned from the hieroglyphic narrations on the wall of the Karnak Temple.
Ramses, by counting and pouring his titles, his offspring, just like in the text of the treaty, appeals to the Hattus, whose titles are also specified, and the content of his article was literally in line with the articles of the treaty.
Winckler then adds: I had very different feelings while reviewing such a document. It has been 18 years since I saw El Amava’s Letters at the Bulak Museum and learned the language of Mitanni in Berlin. While examining the cases clarified by the find of El Amarna in those days, I suggested that the Ramses Treaty should have been written in cuneiform. Now I was holding one of these articles that the parties mutually sent to each other; as well as written in clean cuneiform and Babylonian…
The Oldest Name Of Anatolia is “Hatti Land” and Hatti is The Oldest Language of Anatolia
The name Hatti was used for the first time by Akkadlar from 2350 BC to 630 BC. The first people we know the name and the language they speak in Anatolia are Hatti(indo-european language).
Hittites who came to Anatolia and settled down later also used the name, Hatti. While the Hittites talked about their country, they called like Hatti Country.
Hatties are indigenous people of Anatolia. Starting from 3000 BC, small kingdoms were ruled by principalities. These small states gradually passed into the hands of the Hittites. The people of Hatti were a large part of the population even during the Hittites.
In Anatolia (4000-3000 BC) settlements such as Çatalhöyük-Konya, Çayönü-Diyarbakır and Hacılar-Burdur were the most civilized cities of the world at the time. Unfortunately, we do not know what language the residents speak here.
Hittite priests sometimes prayed in their religious ceremonies that were not in their own language. In the Hittite tablets, before these prayers, “Priest, now speaking Hatti” statements were found.
While reading Hattusa tablets, the word Hatti appears so much to scientists that they also call the Hatti name to the Hittites who speak a different language.
Hattians and Hittites are completely different in terms of language and race.
Hatti Principalities in Anatolia are protohistoric civilizations that do not use writings. Information about this civilization has reached us thanks to Hittites.
In the text “God of Moon Falling from the Sky” written in both Hatti and Hittite, it is seen that Hatti is not a Sami or Hind European language, but a unique language.
The Hittites remained under the influence of Hattians in terms of religion, language, tradition, and custom.
The homeland of the lines is Central Anatolia and Southeast Anatolia Regions.
In the 13th century BC, Egyptian reliefs show; the Hittite kings were smooth-nosed, while the Hatti were curved-nosed, as can be seen from the figurines found. It is understood from these noses that the Hittite soldiers were Hatti. Thus, we can say that the Hattis formed the majority of the population during the Hittite Empire.
A variety of Hatti artworks were found in Alacahöyük-Çorum, Mahmutlar-Amasya and Horoztepe-Tokat.
Who were The Hittites?
The first political union in Anatolia was provided by the Hittite Kingdom. In this 500-year period between 1700 BC and 1200 BC, Anatolia means the Hittite state. Centers of the Hittites Kızılırmak (Halys) was in Central Anatolia in the arc.
The history of the Hittite state, both from the Hittite State archives and excavations in Boğazköy, as well as from the written documents of their neighbors with whom they had political and cultural relations clarified.
Documents that provide information about the Hittite history and remain from the “Old State” time are very few. Many documents unearthed were from “The Great Kingdom” (Empire).
After staying in Southeast Anatolia for a long time, they settled in Central Anatolia. The Hittites entered Anatolia slowly, slowly and fused with the Hatti: They were not invading or burning and destructive.
It was revealed that the Hittites first lived in Kültepe in the 19th century BC. The name Hittite was mentioned in the Torah, and therefore they were called Hittite with their names in the Torah. Egyptians called this people Kheta, Assyrians Hatti. The Hittites, on the other hand, called themselves “Nesili-Nesili” (Nesumna).
The oldest document written in the Hittite language, belonging to the Hittites, is a document belonging to King Anitta on Kültepe Mound.
In this document, Anitta mentions his successful works. This text is “Res Gestae” by King Anitta (Successful Jobs). The document is full of interesting information.
Since the state and the kingdom were protected by the gods in the Hittites, they always carried the god statues with them. When King Muvatalli transferred his place from Hattusa to Dattasha to fight the Egyptians, he also took the god statues with him.
They carry the gods of the cities they captured to their own temples. With these gods, the power of the Hittite king also increases. Later, the abundance of these Gods, whose numbers reach about 1000, will confuse the Hittites much.
Before the Hittites settled in Anatolia, they were a group of hunters and nomadic tribes. They had all the superiorities of the nomads over the settlers; trust, interconnectedness, fearlessness, and fighting ability. In the settled lines, there was developed agriculture and stockbreeding; good manners, and knowledge.
The lines had town states, kings, and soldiers, but they were not warriors. Hatti; They welcomed the Hittites with peace and tolerance and the Hittite state emerged from this mixture.
For centuries, Hattians and Hittites have lived together in Anatolia. Hittite language is also affected by the Hatti language. The Hittites, in this region where they live, they call it Hatti. They call their king “King of Hatti Country“.
In 1750 BC, “King of Kuşşara, Anitta, son of Pithana“, takes over the city of Neşa (Kültepe). Anitta now calls himself King of Nesha. Then he surrounds Hattusa, smashes the city, and curses the city; he prints, “Whoever reconstructs this city, revives it, to the curse of the God of Storm“.
He reconstructs Neşa by building new structures. Although the Hittite king Anitta cursed Hattuşa. Those who come after do not comply with this will and attach importance to Hattuşaş. It is now known that three or four kings ruled between Anitta (1750- BC) and 1st Line (1660-1630 BC).
In the time of King Labarna (Tabarna?), after Anitta, he moved from the capital city of Neşa to Hattuşaş. Labarna changes its name to Hattuşili, which means Hattusili. Hattusili is considered to be the first Hittite king.
The name Labarna later became the royal title. Just like Labarna, Tabama becomes the title of the queens.
Hattuşili chooses her sister’s son as the king after her. However, this prince revolts against the king, and the King throws him out of the crown. According to the king, those who do not love their father will not have a love for their people.
When the Murşili became the crown prince, the king hires teachers to him. They train the prince according to the wishes of the king.
King says; “Until today, none of my family cared about my wishes. Now my chief assistants, keep your king’s word. You will only eat bread and drink water. Thus, he will rise to Hattusa. My country will be in peace. If you do not keep your king’s word, you will not be alive, you will die.“
When the Hittites get stronger, they try to reach the sea. Hattuşili organizes flights to Southeast Anatolia and North Syria and takes the city of Alalah near to Hatay. It establishes sovereignty in Syria and Northern Mesopotamia.
It is seen that such influxes are based on a certain strategy. In a document found, they pray: “Let the king be healthy, the queen, the princes and the troops, and his country. Let his country be neighboring the sea in this direction and the other way“.
Hattuşili compares himself in a document with the Sumerian-Akkadian king Sargon, who passed the Euphrates before. He knows the expedition of Sargon, the king of Akkad, into Anatolia. Sargon had passed the Euphrates about 700 years ago, but his legend was still living in Anatolia.
“The Euphrates River had never passed before me. I, the Great King, passed him on foot, my armies also passed after me. Sargon also passed him, defeated the Hahhu army.
But he did not do evil to Hahhu, did not set the city on fire, did not raise his smoke to the God of the Sky. I defeated the King of the Great King, Hashish, and Hahhu, set their city on fire, raised their fumes to the Storm God and the Sun God of the Sky, and ran the Hahhu king on a cart.“
Hattuşili dies by injury during wars around Helpa (Aleppo), and his grandson Murşili comes with his will.
When Murşili becomes king, he starts conquests, firstly he walks on Halpa / Aleppo, which is the continuation of Hattuşili’s expansion policy.
The acquisition of Northern Syria opens the doors of Mesopotamia to the Hittites. Then he organizes military expeditions to Babylon.
It destroys Babylon’s famous Ziggurat tower in such a way that it will not stand up again. Hattuşili is killed by her sister and her husband Murşili. After the first king, Labarna-Hatuşili Mursili comes.
Quick Notes about Hittites Civilization
The center of the Civil World of the 2nd Millennium BC, that is, “Europe”, was Northern Mesopotamia. The Hittite Empire was the superpower of the world at that time along with Egypt.
According to the cuneiform texts, the name of the Hittite country (a large part of today’s Anatolia) is the country of Hatti. This name was also used before the migration of the Hittites. The Hittites did not change the name of the country after they immigrated to Anatolia.
Hittites is called ITI because of French. In the 19th century, France, especially Paris, were places where Turkish intellectuals went and studied. In French, the letter H is not to read, and since the last letter is also not read, the word Hitit becomes Iti, which is pronounced as Eti.
The battle of Kadesh treaty of the Hittites with the Egyptians was the first written peace treaty between the two major states in history.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hittites and Quick Informations
After this part, we will learn about the FAQ about Hittites and quick informations!
Burial in Hittites
Alacahöyük tombs belonged to the Hittites, their princes, and princesses.
13 tombs in Alacahöyük show a unique burial technique. 50-70 cm. 3-8 m deep. long, 2-5 m. They are pits in width.
The tombs were outside the city walls, but at a very close distance(due to the precious jewels in the tombs).
After the burial, the grave was surrounded with stones and covered with transverse wood. The bones of the animals sacrificed after the dead meal was placed on the grave in proper order. This burial pattern is similar to the Myken and Phrygia tombs, except for the hocker status.
Gold, silver, electron, and bronze works belonging to the lines are common in the Kızılırmak curve and in all of Central Anatolia.
Embellishments in the Sun courses, which are found in Alacahöyük tombs, are the Hatti feature.
Laws in Hittites
The foundations of democratic rule were laid 3500 years ago in Anatolia by the Hittites. Hittite laws were not harsh, they had a human-oriented structure. “Kısasa Kısas Law” of Babylon’s king Hammurabi is still applied in some countries even today.
However, the Hittites had moved to “Compensation Law” 3500 years ago. This advanced Hittite law is taught as a lecture at the University of Pittsburgh Law School in the USA.
The Hittite kings were chief commander, chief judge, and high priest.
In the 14th century BC, the Hittites in the middle of Anatolia took a democratic step even for today, they established a council called PANKU consisting of nobles to advise the king, control the king, judge and punish him when necessary.
Panku’s members included members of the Royal family, senior government officials, commanders, and leaders of noble families.
Legislative and supervisory powers belonged to this assembly. In addition to these duties, Panku controlled inter-state treaties.
Although Hittite was a monarchical system, the King’s authority was limited to Panku. The periods when Panku and King’s powers balanced each other were the brightest period of the Hittite Kingdom.
When there were any political problems, the King was calling Panku to a meeting. The heir determined by the king should have passed the approval of the Panku Assembly. In Telipinu Edict, the rules regarding Panku are listed after the first items;
6. If the king does such a job, he will be tried, but his family will not be punished or his property will not be confiscated.
7. If a prince does evil too, he will pay with his head, but his family and property will not be harmed.
8. Panku, the noble assembly, will judge him if he does evil no matter what the high official is.
Hittite Currency/Money/Coin ‘ŞHEKEL’
In the Hittite economy, Shekel was both a measure of weight and currency. Silver or stick-shaped pieces of silver were used as a substitute for money in the markets.
The only difference between these metals from the metal money, which was later invented by the Lydians, is that there was no stamp on them.
The Hittite kings wrote annuals called Annal. These are the most important written documents in Hittite history. A lot of information about wars, zoning works, social life, etc. about Hittites were obtained from these Annals.
The army consisted of two elements; were pedestrian soldiers and car-warriors. There were no cavalry soldiers.
Soldiers wear short skirts, armor, helmets, and spikes to protect the body; they used swords, daggers, spears, and axes.
They used spears, arrows, and bows to launch enemies at a distance.
Escaping the war in the Hittites was a great crime.
The punishment of those who fled from the military was directly imposed by the King.
Gold and Silver in Hittite Civilization
Gold and silver are soft and easily workable metals. The Hittites processed them. They produced various beautiful works such as god figurines and drink cups. So, they used Gold and Silver in a wide range of their life.
Marriage in Hittites
In Hittite laws, there is no polygamy in the articles related to marriage. In the Hittite world, marriages were usually monogamous.
When divorcing, they divided the belongings equally. This shows the importance given to women in Hittites.
There was religious tolerance in Anatolia 3500 years ago. They had so many gods that Hattusha was called “The City with a Thousand Gods“.
“LİM DİNGİR” in Hittite means a thousand gods.
Hittites would accept the gods of the cities they captured with great tolerance. In this way, they would have made it easier and quicker to respect the belief in the city they conquered.
First, they envisioned the gods in the form of animals and then in the form of people.
The relationship of the Hittites with the gods is as the Romans said “Quid Pro Quo“. This is “I am giving you something, and you must give me something in return.” The most prominent feature of their religion is this condition of mutual interest.
For example, God Ea says to the gods who want to destroy humanity:
“Why would you want to destroy men? Don’t people regularly sacrifice to gods? If you destroy men, no one will give you bread and drinks. ”
Hittite gods are mentioned in state treaties, when sworn, prayers, curse, mythological and historical documents. It is very difficult to know all the god names. A few of them are:
- Kumarbi: Father of the Gods
- Tesup: The god of the storm is the god at the head of the Pantheon.
- Hepat: Fertility Goddess. Sun Goddess
- Sharruma: Son of Tesup and Hepat, God of Lightning
- Telipini: God of Nature
- Lelvani: God of the underworld (others İşduştaya and Papay)
- Shilunkatte: god of war, pandemic, and plague
- Ishtar: Goddess of Love and War
- Shamash: God of the Sun (wife Aya)
- Sin: God of the Moon (wife Ningal)
- Taru: God of Storm (Taurus – bull, Taurus Mountains?)
Human Sacrifice Ritual in Hittites
There was a human sacrifice ritual in the Hittites.
Human sacrifice was done in very special cases after the defeat of the army. A sacrificed person was hung on both sides of a door in two pieces after the defeated soldiers passed through this door, they went to the side of a river, where they were partially washed and removed from their dirt.
With this ritual, they gave morale to the soldiers. If you did not fight heroically, they would say that your end will be like this dead man.
Examples from Hittite Language
- The son in law whose wife has died remains in every sense a son in law.
- Since humanity is depraved rumors constantly circulate.
- The will of the gods is severed! It does not hasten to seize, but when it does seize, it does not go again.
Who were the Hittites and Where did They Come From?
Hittites are from the Indo European tribes who came to Anatolia in 3000 BC. There are three different opinions about which road this Tribe used to come to Anatolia: Straits through to Anatolia or they came from the Caucasus or from Northern Syria.
Their languages Nesice-Neshi. The first Hittite traces are found in NEŞA (Kültepe-Kayseri).
It was revealed that the Hittites first lived in Kültepe, in Asia Minor. And, formed an empire at Hattusa in Anatolia (around modern Turkey) around 1600 BC. The Hittite Empire reached gold age during the mid-1300s BC, when it spread across Asia Minor, into the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia(including some part of the middle east).
Who are the Hittites?
Hittites are ancient Anatolian people who have lived in Asia Minor (today’s modern Turkey) and turned a great Hittite Empire. The first Hittites were an ancient group of Indo-Europeans.
Capital of the Hittite Empire?
The capital of the Hittite Empire was the Hattusa! The ruins of the Hattusa lies near the modern Boğazkale, Turkey!
Hittites Civilization Map
Hittites border covers almost all Asia Minor; Syria, and modern Turkey today! You may see the map below;
Who was the Leader of the Hittites?
Some of the known leaders of the Hittites are as below;
- Hattusili I
- Mursili I
- Hantili I
- Zidanta I
- Huzziya I
How to Pronounce Hittites?
Hittites were improved much on art! They have been produced plates, drinking cups, statues, seal, any many materials used in wars! The most valuable material which they used in their art-works was Gold-Silver.
Hittites in Bible
Who are the Hittites in the Bible? Here is an answer;
The Hittite civilization plays an important role at key places in Bible of Hebrew: Ephron the Hittite sells Abraham the family burial ground (Genesis 23); Esau married Hittite women, and Rebecca despised them (Genesis 26:34); frequently they are listed as one of the inhabitants of Canaan (e.g., Exodus 13:5; Numbers 13:29; Joshua 11:3);
King David had Uriah the Hittite killed in order to acquire Uriah’s wife (2 Samuel 11); King Solomon had Hittites among his many wives (1 Kings 10:29–11:2; 2 Chronicles 1:17); and the prophet Ezekiel degrades Israel with the metaphor of a Hittite mother (Ezekiel 16:3, 45).
Modern Turkey is full of history and culture. It is possible to see and explore some traces from different civilizations in every square meter. If you are one of those, who would like to feel and explore this lovely country; here you may start searching for your Turkey Travel Package (Small-Group Tours and Private Turkey Tours)!