·        Originate in southern Russian and migrate east and west to modern-day Turkey

o       came to Anatolia over the Caucasus around 2000 BC

o       about the same time that the Trojans were moving into Troy and the Greeks were moving into Greece

·        Introduced early in the third millennium B.C., metallurgy made possible a flourishing "copper age" (ca. 2500-2000 B.C.) during which cultural patterns throughout the region were remarkably uniform. The use of bronze weapons and implements was widespread by 2000 B.C. Colonies of Assyrian merchants, who settled in Anatolia during the copper age, provided metal for the military empires of Mesopotamia

·         The Hittites were different from the Semitic people who had lived there before, like the Akkadians, or the Amorites, because the Hittites rode horses and knew how to make chariots and wagons for the horses as well

·        Iron tools – By 1500 B.C. - Seeing that this was a very valuable skill, the Hittites kept it a carefully guarded secret for a long time. They made iron tools and weapons and sold them to other people of Western Asia, but they would not tell other people how to make them, and so iron remained rare

·        Hattusas (modern Bogazköy in north-central Turkey) was the capital of the Hittite empire in the 2nd millenium B.C.

o       Located on a mountain slope at the southern end of a small fertile plain.

o        It seems surprising that such a remote city could have been the capital of an empire, but besides tradition there were the factors of plentiful water and good natural defenses that kept the Hittite kings there.

o        In 19th century B.C., there were Assyrian traders there

o       City flourishes until about 1800 B.C., when it was destroyed and the conquering king cursed the city’s site


Hittite Kingdom


·        C. 1650 it was settled again by the Hitittes

o        King Labarnas, known as Hattusilis I, "The One from Hattusas"

§         He is the first ruler mentioned in the Hittite language and one of the founders of the Hittite kingdom

·        Around 1600 B.C. the Hittite king Mursilis led his army all the way to Babylon and conquered that city.

o       They did not retain their control and soon packed up their loot and returned to their own country.

o       Monarch is not a god or God’s representative, but first among equals

o       King supported by armed, horse-riding nobility

o       Troops get land, king gets soldiers

o       C. 1500, the king secures hereditary succession

§         King now addressed as “my Sun” during lifetime and deified after death

o       By c. 1450-1400, Hittites extends into Syria and northern Mesopotamia

o       Listed as one of the nations that the children of Israel needed to conquer when entering the Promised Land (Joshua 11:3-4) c. 1450-1400 B.C.

o       Rivals Egypt from 1400-1200 B.C.

§         Vassal states such as those in Troy

·        Troy was 3 miles from the Dardanelles, but had a harbor (yet to be discovered)

·        Fom Troy you can see the Dardanelles and from the citadel you can see the ships coming in

·        It's very difficult to sail into the Dardanelles. Sometimes you have to wait for weeks or even a month to go into the strait.

o       Even found a cemetery for those seamen waiting to sail up the Dardanelles

§         Battle of Kadesh (1274 B.C.) in northern Syria

·        20K of Pharaoh Ramses II’s Egyptian troops face off with 17K Hittites

·        ends in a draw

o       treaty drawn up: 2 groups share control of Syria-Palestine

·        (Egyptian accounts of the battle)

·        Adopt the laws, religion, and the literature of conquered Babylonians

·        Culture

o       Hittites spread Mesopotamian law, culture, and ideas around the Mediterranean world

o       Indo-European language (just like English)

o       Canaanites were, culturally speaking, Mesopotamian

o       First people to use iron extensively

§         near monopoly for a time

§         by 1000 B.C. it is all over Near East

o       Master horsemen

o       Use of war chariot

·        Religion

o       Adopts many gods of Sumerians and Babylonians

o       Incorporate gods of conquered peoples into their pantheon

o       Sun goddess becomes chief god of Hittites

o       Very tolerant towards gods of subject people (helpful to Jews living in Babylonia after captivity)

·        Law

o       Inherits system from Babylonians

o       Laws far more merciful than those of Babylon

o       Only a small handful of crimes were capital crimes. Even premeditated murder only resulted in a large fine

o       Abolish private property – king owns all the land under his control

o       Individuals only control their land by serving in king’s army (tenant farmers)

·        End of Hittite empire

o       Collapses as Hattusas is sacked c. 1195 B.C.

o       Lose monopoly on iron sometime before 1100 B.C.

o       Theories of collapse:

§         revolts of the peasantry against the ruling class

§         Some people have proposed an environmental explanation: studies of tree-rings from that time (by Kuniholm) do seem to show a serious drought about the right time to have caused the political collapse

§         A fundamental change in the nature of warfare in this period. In his view, what is at issue is the replacement of the massed chariotry that had been dominant on Near Eastern battlefields since the introduction of the horse-drawn chariot in the 18th-17th centuries B.C. by light-armed and highly mobile infantry who relied principally on the javelin as a weapon.

§         The Sea Peoples (from Eastern Europe) ravaged the area, therefore taking down Mycenaean (early Greek) civilization in the process

·        Sea Peoples for two centuries had harassed Hittites by raiding their allies/vassals with the help of their allies

·        Mycenaean Greeks conducted wars against vassal states of the Hittites

o       Hittite Archive, c. 1250, mentions client King Alexander of Wilusa, requesting aid from the Great King at Hattusas. Hittite Kings lead several punitive expeditions against Achaeans or Mycenaeans.

§         Hittite texts tell of wars against Troy, a Hittite vassal state (maybe a vassal state since earthquake of 1350 B.C.), during which the city was conquered and the king was sent into exile. If we don't exactly find the Trojan War described in the Hittite sources, the texts do describe a situation in which the Troy of Homer's Trojan War fits very well--of Mycenaean Greeks attacking Troy.

o       A role for the mysterious ‘sea peoples’?

§         Some think that fall of Troy c. 1200 B.C. set up a power vacuum that was jumped into by ‘sea peoples’

·        Homer’s Iliad – composed mid-700s B.C.

o       Alexander the Great slept with a copy of it

·        About the Trojan War, which takes place c. 1200 B.C. – last year of the war and the Greek siege of Troy, which had been harboring Helen, whom Paris had stolen from her husband, the king of Sparta – Achilles is bravest Roman soldier

·        Troy was a city that controlled the Dardanelles, and thus there may have been issues over shipping routes


1.      What American achievements would you want to spread abroad?

2.      What lessons can we learn about archaeology and the Bible from the Hittite episode?


TOMORROW: Assyria fills a power vaccum and Babylon rises again…