The Kingdom of the Hittites

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In some places the walls were over 25 feet thick. The Hittites also incorporated massive stones and boulders in their architecture, like the cyclopean building techniques found at the contemporary citadel of Mycenae in Greece. Sphinx Gate, Hattusa There were at least five gates to the fortified city—each guarded by stone sentinels in the likeness of lions or sphinx-like creatures.

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The Assyrians, who eventually conquered Hittite territories, crafted similar protective guardians, placing them at the entrances to their own cities: lions or bulls with the heads of men called lamassu. Tunnel Gate, Hattusa In the upper part of the citadel is a human-made rampart with a tunnel passing through it. The exact purpose of this tunnel is not known for certain, although it was thought to have been used as a sally port.

The Hittites

It is more likely that the tunnel and others like it in the citadel served as a ceremonial passageway. This sacred spot, located at the end of a processional path wending its way northeast from the Lower City, contains several reliefs carved into the rocks—images of gods and kings. Luwian hieroglyphs, Hattusa The Hittites used cuneiform script for writing on clay and metal tablets, but for monumental inscriptions they carved pictographs called Luwian hieroglyphs like the ones displayed on this sacred chamber in the citadel.

Illustration of a Hittite warrior Hittite foot troops made extensive use of the powerful recurve bow and bronze tipped arrows.

Surviving artwork depicts Hittite soldiers as stocky and bearded, wearing distinctive shoes with curled-up-toes. For close combat they used bronze daggers, lances, spears, sickle-shaped swords, and battle-axes.

Hittites - Livius

Soldiers carried bronze rectangular shields and wore bronze conical helmets with earflaps and a long extension down the back that protected the neck. Ancient bas-relief on stone of Neo-Hittites c.

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They were possibly the first to adopt the horse for pulling light two-wheeled chariots and made these vehicles a mainstay of their field armies. Egyptian engravings of the Battle of Kadesh show three men in Hittite chariots using spears, but other evidence suggests that the war vehicles carried only a driver and archer. Perhaps the chariot archer replaced the chariot javelin thrower. Whatever the case, Hittite chariot armies were feared by most of their contemporaries.

Stone Guardian, Hattusa Following the establishment of a treaty with Egypt circa BCE, there ensued decades of relative peace throughout much of the region. During the great catastrophe circa BCE, however, the Hittite empire was suddenly destroyed. Perhaps the Hittites had been suffering from an extended shortage of food: records on clay tablets reveal they had begun importing grain from Egypt during the middle of the 13th century BCE. Hattusa was eventually abandoned by the last known king Suppiluliuma II , and then the fortifications were thrown down and the city burned to ashes, possibly by the mysterious Sea Peoples or an Anatolian tribal people called the Kaskians.

Eternal Treaty, Egyptian version, Ashkelon Wall, Karnak, Egypt What is so remarkable about this treaty is that a version of it was discovered in two places: at the Karnak Temple Complex in Egypt in written in Egyptian hieroglyphs. Eternal Treaty, Hittite version, found at Hattusa And at Hattusa in written in cuneiform in Akkadian—a common diplomatic language of that period.

United Nations Building, New York, NY In the Republic of Turkey gifted an exact replica of the Hittite version of the treaty to the United Nations, and it has been on display there ever since: a symbol of diplomacy and the promise of peace between nations. Insiders unlock access to exclusive news, updates, and opportunities to provide feedback about future releases.

Here are some of the perks:. Note: You need an Xbox Live account. What's that? Sign In Sign in to interact with our site and view additional content. No problem, just create one for free below! Create my free Microsoft account Create account. Hittite Culture. Both territories were under strong Assyrian influence and later became provinces of the Assyrian Empire.

The Hittites

Furthermore, in Flat Cilicia a number of sites are named after him e. Despite some occasional rebellions it remained a province of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires. Egypt , but finally under that of the Seleucids, who, however, never held effectually more than the eastern half of Cilicia. Later, the province of Cilicia was governed by the Byzantine Empire. In the 7th century it was invaded and ruled by the Caliphates of the Umayyads and Abbasids, who held the country until it was reoccupied by the Byzantine emperor Nicephorus II in AD.

Later in the reign of Tuthaliya, the empire was to a certain degree reconsolidated and apparently attempts were made to regain control over Kizzuwatna and the connected city of Alalah in the south. He, in turn, was murdered — the first regicide since four generations, but it would also remain the last right up until the downfall of the Hittite empire. In order to properly evaluate this event, one must be aware of the broader political landscape of the time.

Egypt had long controlled Palestine and the southern half of Syria and, after extended military conflicts, achieved a peaceful equilibrium with Mittani, which dominated Upper Mesopotamia and Assyria.

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The state archives of the pharaoh, discovered in Amarna in Middle Egypt, describe the intensive diplomatic communication which occurred among the rulers of these three lands. Both Egypt and Mittani had long ceased to be the strong expansive military powers which they had been a century earlier. The central power in Mittani was significantly weakened by a regicide and a usurpation, but probably also by undesirable societal and economic developments. For this reason he moved on to the western regions of the Mittani empire and conquered all Mittanian vassal states west of the Euphrates.

In the process, he came into conflict with Egypt when he conquered a vassal of the pharaoh who had approached him in hostility.

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Egypt — in a time of religious reforms during the reign of Echnaton — was in no position to put up significant resistance. An unusual event falls into this period: The pharaoh had died for decades there have been divergent opinions as to his identity and as a last resort the Egyptian court decided to join themselves with their mighty opponent.

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  4. Subsequently, a young prince took the throne who had had no opportunity to prove his military prowess. He managed to regain control over Arzawa in western Anatolia and obligated several of the rulers there to loyalty to himself through vassal treaties. A new king ascended the throne in Hatti as well. What was perhaps the largest battle of the 2nd millennium took place in between the troops of Ramses II and Muwattalli II near Qadesh in middle Syria.

    The Egyptians just barely escaped a serious defeat, but the Hittites were unable to realize their supremacy in the form of a genuine victory. The territorial status quo was preserved. The most astonishing event of the reign of Muwattalli is the relocation of the capital city. There may also have been a revolt led by a son of Muwattalli, Kurunta.

    This, however, apparently did not prevent Kurunta from claiming the office of the great king for himself, a claim which he considered to have been duly justified. One generation later the Hittite empire came to an end.


    The final king bore the name of the founder of the Hittite Great Empire. The traditional empires of Assyria and Babylonia were reduced to their core regions, while the Hittite empire vanished altogether from the map. The Greek-Aegean realm was also affected, as the destruction of the Mycenaean fortresses demonstrates. Some indications suggest that these catastrophes were ultimately the result of large-scale climatic changes, but further research on this matter is necessary. Due to the absence of sources, today we still do not know who or what caused the demise of the Hittite capital city and the end of the dynasty.