Monday, April 03, 2006

Who Were the Hittites?

Who Were the Hittites? This is an essay on the origins and history of the Hittite people with an emphasis on their conflicts with the ancient Egyptians. It was written by Tracy Fox.

The World Book Encyclopedia notes, "Hittites, were the earliest inhabitants of what is now Turkey to be recorded in history. They began to control the area about 1900 B.C. During the next several hundred years, they conquered parts of Mesopotamia and Syria. By 1500 B.C., the Hittites had become a leading power in the Middle East. Hittite culture and language were Indo-European, but scholars do not know whether the Hittites came from Europe or from central Asia."

The essay also has a short bibliography of books for doing research on the Hittites although I question why only books dealing with Egyptian history are included. There are several good books on the Hittites published prior to 1999 when this essay was apparently written. These include both The Hittites: And Their Contemporaries in Asia Minor by J. G. MacQueen and The Hittites by O. R. Gurney.

From the site:

The Hittites were a people who once lived in what is modern Turkey and northern Syria. Most of what we know about them today comes from ancient texts that have been recovered. It would seem that the first indication of their existence occurred in about 1900 BC, in the region that was to become Hatti. There, they established the town of Nesa. Over the next three hundred years, their influence grew until in about 1680 BC, a true empire was born.

This original kingdom was founded by a leader known as Labarna, and the kingdom was expanded by later rulers all across Anatolia and down to the Mediterranean Sea. So strong was this kingdom that in 1595 BC, they were able to raid Babylon. However, this initial serge of the Hittite empire was staggered due to the lack of a clear custom for the succession of Kings. Hence, the kingdom was only as strong as the current ruler, and within about 120 years, it began to crumble.

In Egypt, when their empire became weak as it did during three intermediate periods, usually due to a decentralization of government, the Nubians to the south, Egypt's only true neighbors, most often prospered. They frequently took back land gained by the Egyptians when Egypt was strong, only to lose it once more when Egypt recovered.


Jennie W said...

I have to say that I have never really liked this site. Its a travel site and seems very "pseudo" history to me. Students are attracted to it because it pops up quickly on Google, but I usually won't let you use it because the authors can't be don't know if they are students, professors, or just someone with time to kill. They do have references, of which I approve, but much of their material, I think, is very questionable. Just my opinion...feel free to disagree.

Geoff Elliott said...

The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey contains priceless Hittite artifacts. It's well worth the visit. The museum has undergone an expansion and reorganization of the exhibits in the past few years and has become world class. While one can visit Hittite settlements in Turkey, most of the outstanding artifacts are in this museum.