The Hittites: The History and Legacy of the Bronze Age's Forgotten Empire
The pages of world history textbooks contain a litany of “lost” empires and civilizations, but usually, upon further review, it is revealed that these so called lost empires are often just lesser known cultures that had a less apparent impact on history than other more well-known civilizations. When one scours the pages of history for a civilization that was inexplicably lost, but had a great impact during its time, very few candidates can be found, but the Hittites are a notable example. In fact, the Hittites are an ancient people who remain somewhat enigmatic, and perhaps little known to most people, but their influence on the ancient Near East is undeniable. From high on their capital of Hattusa in central Anatolia, the Hittites were able to conquer and control a kingdom that roughly comprised the area of the modern nation-states of Turkey, Syria, and parts of Iraq and Lebanon through a combination of brute military force and shrewd diplomatic machinations. Compared to some of their contemporaries – including the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians – the Hittites were somewhat distant both culturally and geographically.
The Hittites were an Indo-European speaking in an ocean of Afro-Asiatic and Semitic groups, their homeland was to the north of Mesopotamia, and it contained no major river like the Nile, Tigris, or Euphrates Rivers. The Hittite empire was also far less enduring than its neighbors, as it only existed from about 1800-1200 BCE (van de Mieroop 2007, 156), which was considerably shorter than most of the other major kingdoms of the Near East. With that said, the influence of the Hittites on the politics, economy, and overall situation of the ancient Near East cannot be understated; the Hittites were a force to be reckoned with while they existed. The sources used to reconstruct Hittite history and chronology are many and varied, and since the Hittites were a literate people who developed a fairly sophisticated corpus of literature, ancient Hittite archives can be used to reconstruct events.
Unfortunately, the Hittites were not keen about dating their sources, so most of the dates are dependent on ancient Egyptian sources (Macqueen 2003, 8). The Egyptian sources also provide excellent details on events that either the Hittites refused to mention in their own texts, have not been discovered yet, or have been lost to the ages. Of course, modern archaeology has also helped to fill in the knowledge about Hittite civilization, especially in regards to palace and religious life in the ancient capital of Hattusa. Based on all of these sources, as well as studies by eminent modern scholars in the field, it’s possible to examine who the Hittites were, their influence on the ancient Near East, and the eventual collapse of their empire. The Hittites: The History of the Most Prominent Empire of the Ancient Near East traces the history and legacy of the Hittites across several centuries. Along with pictures of important people, places, and events, you will learn about the history of the Hittites like never before, in no time at all.
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