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Hittites and the Hittite Empire

Archaeology and History of Both Hittite Empires

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Hattusha Lion Gate

Hattusha Lion Gate

Nazli Evrim Serifoglu

Two different types of "Hittites" are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament): the Canaanites, who were enslaved by Solomon; and the Neo-Hittites, Hittite kings of northern Syria who traded with Solomon. The events related in the Old Testament occurred in the 6th century BC, well after the glory days of the Hittite Empire.

The discovery of the Hittite capital city of Hattusha was an important event in archaeology of the near east, because it increased our understanding of the Hittite Empire as a powerful, sophisticated civilization of the 13th through 17th centuries BC.

The Hittite Civilization

What we call the Hittite civilization began as an amalgam of people who lived in Anatolia during the 19th and 20th centuries BC (called the Hatti), and new Indo-Europeans migrants into the Hatti region called the Nesites or the people of Nesa. One of the pieces of evidence for such a cosmopolitan empire is that the cuneiform archives at Hattusha are written in several languages, including Hittite, Akkadian, Hattic, and other Indo-European languages. During their heyday between 1340 and 1200 BC, the Hittite empire ruled much of Anatolia--roughly what today is Turkey.

 

Timeline

  • Old Hittite Kingdom [ca. 1600-1400 BC]
  • Middle Kingdom [ca. 1400-1343 BC]
  • Hittite Empire [1343-1200 BC]
Note: The chronology of the Hittite civilization is obscured, because it must rely on another culture's historical documents, such as Egyptian, Assyrian, Mesopotamian, all of which vary. The above is the so-called "Low Chronology", which dates the sack of Babylon at 1531 BC.

Sources

Articles by Ronald Gorny, Gregory McMahon, and Peter Neves, among others, in Across the Anatolian Plateau, ed. by David C. Hopkins. American Schools of Oriental Research 57.

 

Cities: Important Hittite cities include Hattusha (now called Boghazkhoy), Carchemish (now Jerablus), Kussara or Kushshar (which has not been relocated), and Kanis. (now Kultepe)

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