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THE HITTITES - The People That History Forgot

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Author Topic: THE HITTITES - The People That History Forgot  (Read 3603 times)
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« on: June 19, 2007, 09:59:22 am »

Thirty centuries ago the Hittites held sway in the Middle East, then, strangely enough, became

                                   T H E   P E O P L E   T H A T   H I S T O R Y   F O R G O T

The winds that sigh across the flatlands carry voices from the past. They speak softly, until the wind rises to a howl. Dust billows into unintelligible shapes, then falls to continue its endless drift across Turkey's central plateau country. Travelers to this bleak and wind-swept land hear the voices and see the dust dancers. As they walk the hot plains, they feel that there are ghosts all around them.

And perhaps there are. For this is the land of a powerful and mysterious people who lived and battled here three thousand years ago, who built an imposing empire, then—incredibly—vanished from human memory.

This is the land of the Hittites.

Theirs is one of mankind's strangest and most intriguing stories. It is known today that from 1900 B.C. to about 1200 B.C. they were one of the great powers of the Middle East, rivaling Babylonia, Assyria and Egypt—and superior to all three in statesmanship, lawgiving and warfare. They ruled Asia Minor, into which they had come as Indo-European invaders, and forged a commonwealth of city-states out of the tribes and kingdoms they found there. Little of their art or literature remains, but on thousands of clay tablets and on rocks and stone-faced hills they left inscriptions—sculptures of their gods, their kings and their people, and writings in cuneiform and hieroglyphics. Unlike some of their neighbors, the Hittites were not cruel. They were, however, excellent strategists, tacticians and warriors. They were superb horsemen, inventors of the most formidable war machine of their time—the light, two-wheeled battle chariot. Under the relentless attack of the Hittite infantry and chariot-drawn legions, even the power of Egypt broke.

With all these glories the Hittites, when their empire at last declined, should have been remembered through the ages. Egypt was. So was Babylonia. But by a freak of history, the Hittites were forgotten for 30 centuries—from the end of their power around 1200 B.C. until their rediscovery in the last century. All that was known of them during this long time was what was contained in several, brief Old Testament accounts. In "Genesis" it states that Abraham, when his wife, Sarah, died, bought a burying place for her from Ephron, the Hittite. But from the various Biblical references to them, the Hittites appear merely as one of several minor tribes in Asia Minor. This is how they were still regarded even as late as 1834, when Charles Texier made his journey of discovery to central Turkey.

He had gone in search of an old Roman town and had arrived at the village of Boghazköy. When the people there told him about some ruins nearby, he went to examine them. Texier was astounded when he saw the ruins. This was not the rubble left from a small Roman town but the remains of an immense city that obviously had been built by some great but forgotten people. Yet scholars had no knowledge of any such people. Texier announced his discovery—but admitted that he could not explain what his discovery meant.


What Texier had in fact stumbled upon was nothing less than the ruins of Hatrusas, the great walled capital of the Hittite empire. By the late 1800's scholars came to appreciate the significance of Texier's discovery, and the newest branch of archaeology, Hittitoldgy, had been born. It is still fresh and exciting, and each year new discoveries in Turkey are bringing the ancient and forgotten world of the Hittites farther out of the darkness that cloaked it for more than three millenia.

Imaginative archaeologists, guided by the aged remnants of a lost civilization, give a fairly complete picture of what life was like in the days when the Hittites prospered. Modern travelers, as they tramp over the deserted plains, find it easy to lose track of time, to conjure up in the mind's eye the land and its people as they were more than three thousand years ago.

Spreading out across the plateau that lies inside the great curve of the Halys River is a farm that boasts its owner's care and pride. The farm is rich with vineyards and with orchards of apple, pear and pomegranate trees. There are beehives in swarm, and in the pasture goats and sheep are feeding. Over in the barley field a man is plowing with a team of oxen.

This is the farm of Tiwataparas, a Hittite landowner. He is short and swarthy with a markedly curved nose. After the fashion of most Hittites, his forehead is shaved but his dark hair, divided into three locks, falls freely down his neck. He wears neither mustache nor beard.

Tiwataparas is dressed in a knee-length woolen tunic with short sleeves and a belt. Across his left shoulder he wears a bright red, fringed mantle. His shoes, turned up at the toes, are thick-soled. His clothes, heavier and made of better material than used by the Syrians or Egyptians, attest to the rigorous winters endured on the Hittite plateaus. In answer to questions about his farm, Tiwataparas replies in a language that shows a faint resemblance to Latin or Greek, although most of the words clearly belong to some entirely different tongue.

In Tiwataparas' house are a number of cooking and serving vessels and other-utensils of copper, bronze and pottery. But Tiwataparas displays one object, a small dagger, of which he is especially proud. It is made of iron, a rare and precious metal among the Hittites. His home also contains small bronze replicas of the weather god and sun god, chief deities among a bewildering array of gods borrowed from Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Indians.

Although Tiwataparas' farm is many miles from the Hittite capital of Hattusas, he daily feels the influence of Hittite law-givers. A code of law, 200 paragraphs long, regulates both his personal and business life. When he sells his barley of honey, for example, he is paid in silver coins at prices regulated by the code. In criminal matters, Hittite justice is held to be very fair—even lenient.


Only rarely does Tiwataparas make the long journey to Hattusas, but he has pointed out the well-traveled road to many making a first trip to this center of Hittite power. To one approaching the city, the great double walls appear first in the distance. Square towers, looking out onto the surrounding terrain, are spaced along the walls. In front of the first wall, is the mouth of a tunnel, out of which the city's defenders can rush in a surprise attack on any enemy who besieges the city.

At that very moment a thunderous sound issues from the direction of the walled city. From a large stone gateway pours a host of Hittite troops in the light, two-wheeled Hittite war chariots that are feared throughout Asia Minor. Unlike the older chariots of the Sumerians—heavy, wood platforms with solid, clumsy wheels—the Hittite chariots are graceful and highly maneuverable. Their wheels are rimmed and have six spokes. Each chariot is drawn by a pair of spirited horses, whose driver handles them with the skill that has made Hittite horsemanship admired over the entire Middle East. At the head of the chariot shaft between the horses is fixed a large copper crescent. It is a good luck charm—and as the sun glances off it as the chariots charge into battle, it helps terrify the enemy.


Each chariot holds three men—the driver and two warriors. Some are dressed in belted knee-length woolen tunics. Others, bare to the waist, wear what resembles a kilt. The warriors wear tufted, bronze helmets and carry short curved swords and battle-axes. They also have bows, and quivers of arrows are mounted on the sides of the chariots. A shower of arrows upon a foe terror-stricken at the sight of the chariots often brings victory at the first charge.

Behind the chariots come the infantry. Some of the troops carry bows or slings, while others are armed with short lances or broad-bladed choppers. In battle the Hittite army attacks in close order, concentrating its strength at one point along the enemy's line, a point which seldom resists the shock of the Hittite onrush.

The troops are on their way to the greatest struggle in Hittite history. Their king, Muwatallis, has decided to put a stop to the expansionist drive of Egypt under the new Pharaoh, Ramses II. So the Hittite war chariots, glinting with sunlight through the dust raised by their horses, roll onward toward Kadesh, far off on the Orontes River, not far from the Syrian border. This year, 1296 B.C., will be the last year of life for many Hittite soldiers, but their comrades will return victorious over the Egyptians.

All this is what a visitor, magically returned to the plains of Asia Minor, could have seen and heard as he lived among the Hittites in their days of greatness. Seeing them and their achievements, he would not have believed it possible that almost all memory of such a people could disappear for more than three thousand years. But the patient work of the archaeologists and scholars have at last, in a very real sense, brought the Hittites to life again.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 12:25:35 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2007, 10:18:15 am »


                                    T H E   H I T T I T E S   O F   A N A T O L I A

 by Ewa Wasilewska


Turkey's soil is rich in ruins: Ottoman, Roman, Seljuk, Byzantine, Greek. But far older than any of those cultures—and forgotten almost entirely for 3000 years—are the remains of the first Indo-European power in the Mediterranean area: the Hittites.
                                               HITTITE SUN
Their arrival in Anatolia—the Asian part of Turkey, known also as Asia Minor—some 4000 years ago changed the political map of the Middle East, at that time dominated by the civilizations born in the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Although the Hittites ruled in Anatolia and beyond for almost 1000 years thereafter, they then vanished from human memory, to be rediscovered only at the beginning of the 20th century. Only the Bible carried some short references to the Hittites, presenting them as one of the tribes of Palestine in the first millennium BC. It was a "son of Heth—a Hittite—who sold the Prophet Abraham the land to bury his beloved wife Sarah.

Who were the Hittites? Their discovery is still one of the most fascinating stories of the early archaeological and philological explorations of the Middle East. The ruins of their once monumental palaces and temples, their rock-reliefs in the middle of the wilderness of the Anatolian steppes, and their stone inscriptions in the least expected places were known by local people but overlooked, or ignored, by Europeans.

In 1812, for example, a Hittite hieroglyphic inscription was discovered carved on a stone built into the corner of a house in Hama, in modern Syria, by the Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhard. (See Aramco World, September-October 1967). But this find—like others in the area—was ignored until it was rediscovered in the 1870's by William Wright.

Wright, a very curious Irishman, tried to get official permission to copy some inscriptions that he had seen at Hama and elsewhere and carry them off to Istanbul. He succeeded in one of his goals—he got the permission—but the local population was not very friendly toward him and did not like his plans for the inscribed stones, either. The stones, they believed, could cure diseases such as rheumatism if the sufferer touched them or rubbed against them. Some citizens of Aleppo thought that taking the inscriptions out of their original places might bring bad luck, and preferred to destroy them rather than let them be profaned by foreigners.


Nonetheless, the copies were finally made. In the 1870's the inscriptions were independently attributed by Wright and Oxford University linguist A. H. Sayce to the "sons of Heth" mentioned in the Bible. In 1874, another researcher, William Hayes Ward, decided that the hieroglyphics on these stones—unrelated to the hieroglyphics of ancient Egypt—were not decorations or magic signs, but a writing system which should be read "boustrophedon," that is, "as the ox plows": the first line from left to right, the second from right to left, the third from left to right again, and so on. But after years of study only a very few hieroglyphic signs could be identified and assigned their proper meaning. In fact, it took scholars almost a whole century to achieve a degree of certainty in reading this hieroglyphic Hittite-Luvian script, as it was called. And it would not have happened at all but for the 1945 discovery, in Karatepe in southern Turkey, of inscriptions that presented the same text in hieroglyphic Hittite-Luvian and in the Phoenician alphabetic script. Working between the known script and the unknown one, the Hittite-Luvian hieroglyphics were deciphered.

In the meantime, about 1894, another discovery was made in Anatolia. At Boğazköy, in central Anatolia, cuneiform clay tablets were found by the French archeologist Ernest Chantre. He brought them to Europe, where they became the center of attention for many scholars. The cuneiform writing system was familiar, thanks to earlier work on tablets discovered during numerous excavations in Iraq. But the language of the Boğazköy texts, as well as the identity of the people who wrote it, were a mystery.

In assigning these texts to their "owners," the so-called Amarna tablets, found in Egypt two decades earlier, were of great help. The royal archives of Tell el-Amarna, a city occupied between 1375 and 1360 BC, comprised the official letters of two Egyptian pharaohs, Amenhotep III and Akhenaton, and included some 400 cuneiform tablets, mostly in the Akkadian language—the lingua franca of the Middle East in the second millennium BC. Among them, however, there were also some tablets written in the same language as those from Boğazköy. Since both the Bible and Egyptian written sources referred occasionally to the Hittites as a power comparable to Egypt itself, scholars concluded that something like a Hittite empire must have existed in Anatolia some time in the second millennium BC.

Early in this century, University of Vienna professor Bedřich Hrozný realized that Hittite was the oldest known Indo-European language. His discovery was based on this short sentence written in cuneiform: NU NINDA-AN EZZATENI,WATAR-MA EKUTENI .

Since many Babylonian words were included in Hittite texts, the clue was provided by the Babylonian word ninda, which means "food" or "bread." Hrozný asked himself a very simple question: What does one do with food or bread? The answer, of course, was, one eats it. So the word ezzateni must be related to eating. Then the -an suffix on ninda must be a marker for a direct object in the Hittite language, added to the Babylonian word for "food" or "bread."

With these two propositions in hand, Hrozný looked at both the vocabulary and the grammar of Indo-European languages. He noted that the verb to eat is similar to Hittite ezza- not only in English, but also in Greek (edein), Latin (edere) and German (essen), and especially in medieval German (ezzan). Suspecting strongly that the Hittite language was of Indo-European origin, Hrozný identified the suffix -an as the accusative-case marker still preserved in Greek as -n. If that was true, the second line of the inscription was not much of a problem, since it began with the word watar, which could easily be translated as English water or German Wasser. Hrozný proposed the reading of the whole sentence as NOW BREAD YOU EAT, THEN WATER YOU DRINK—and he turned out to be right. Hittite was an Indo-European language!

The texts uncovered at Boğazköy and elsewhere in Anatolia opened up a new chapter in the history of ancient civilizations, written by the Hittites and other Indo-European peoples—Luvians and Palaians—who arrived in Asia Minor at the end of the third millennium BC or a little later. The land they came from and the route they took in their search for a new homeland are still among the unsolved mysteries of the past. Might they have come from the vast steppes of Russia, as Turkic tribes did some 30 centuries later? Or were they from the once dense forests of Europe? The search for those answers is still on.

Wherever they came from, it seems that the Indo-Europeans' infiltration into Asia Minor was rather peaceful, in spite of some violent local conflicts described in the archives of Boğazköy. The Hittites settled down mostly in central Anatolia, while the Luvians established themselves in the southwest, and the Palaians spread out to the north. Not much is known about either the Luvians or the Palaians, because not many texts by them or about them have been found, but the Hittites left behind rich archives that are fascinating in their content.

Anatolia was not empty when the Hittites arrived. The Anatolian cultures of the time were relatively rich but small communities whose royal tombs have been discovered in such places as Alaca Hüyük and Horoztepe. Gold, silver and bronze objects from these tombs are considered to be of equal or higher quality than the treasures found in ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia. These people spoke Hattic—a language of different structure than Indo-European or other languages known from the area. Because we have few texts or other clues, this language, and the identity of its speakers, are still a matter of speculation, but we do know that the Hattic people, and the land of Hatti, became part of a new political entity known as the Hittite Old Kingdom in about 1650 BC.

The kingdom's founder, Hattusilis i, rebuilt the city of Hattusas—destroyed and cursed by the pre-Hittite ruler of the area—and proclaimed it his capital. Here, in Hattusas, now known as Bogazköy, the cuneiform texts of the ancient Hittite kings spoke again some 35 centuries later.

Hattusilis I set up the rules and directions for the future development of his kingdom. The Hittites would rule in a flexible way, accepting the customs, traditions and deities of any land which became part of their growing empire. Hence, the Hittite kingdom is often called the "kingdom of thousands of gods." All the deities, those of the conquerors and those of the conquered, were to be worshiped in their own languages and according to their own customs. They were left as rulers of their lands—although their earthly representatives had to recognize Hittite suzerainty.

                                          THE WALK OF THE GODS - HATTUSAS
The originally small Hittite kingdom of Central Anatolia soon grew beyond Asia Minor. The Hittites looked with interest to Syro-Palestine and even to the famous civilizations of Mesopotamia. In 1595 BC the grandson and successor of Hattusilis I, Mursilis I, took northern Syria and the city of Aleppo. In the same campaign he conquered Babylon, putting an end to the first Babylonian dynasty of Hammurabi. But though his military success was very impressive, its effects did not last. Mursilis was murdered on his return to Hattusas, and shortly thereafter the kingdom of the Hittites was once again limited to central Anatolia.

The Hittites organized themselves again to conquer the world. The New Hittite Empire is usually dated to the period between 1450 and 1180 BC. Suppiluliumas I of the 14th century bc made Anatolia and Northern Syria his dominion. He did not repeat Mursilis's mistake of moving into an area which he could not directly control. Instead, through the most immediate conquests and a whole system of alliances, he founded a kingdom whose strength and wealth surpassed that of any other nation of the period. Even an Egyptian queen, alone after the death of her husband, asked Suppiluliumas to send one of his sons for her to marry, since she did not want to marry any of her courtiers. Suppiluliumas, apparently incredulous that his son could become a pharaoh, took his time in checking the legitimacy of the queen's letter. Offended, the queen sent another letter, whose genuineness was confirmed by Suppiluliumas's secret service, and he sent his son to Egypt for a wedding that could have had considerable consequences, had it happened. Instead, the prince was murdered by enemies of the queen before he reached Egypt, and she herself disappears from Egyptian records shortly after this event.

Another ruler of the Hittite Empire, Muwatallis, had a less than friendly brush with Pharaoh Ramses II. Both the Hittites and the Egyptians were so interested in the political and economic importance of the Syro-Palestine area between them that conflict was inevitable. Their two armies met in one of the most famous battles of history, at Kadesh on the Orontes River in about 1286 BC. Historian O. R. Gurney describes the battle this way:

The Hittite army based on Kadesh succeeded in completely concealing its position from the Egyptian scouts; and as the unsuspecting Egyptians advanced in marching order towards the city and started to pitch their camp, a strong detachment of Hittite chariotry passed round unnoticed behind the city, crossed the river Orontes and fell upon the Egyptian column with shattering force. The Egyptian army would have been annihilated, had not a detached Egyptian regiment arrived most opportunely from another direction and caught the Hittites unaware as they were pillaging the camp. This lucky chance enabled the Egyptian king to save the remainder of his forces and to represent the battle as a great victory.

The results of the battle, which confirmed the status quo in the Middle East—the division of influence in Syro-Palestine between Egypt and Anatolia—were sealed some 16 years later by an international treaty signed by Hattusilis in and Ramses II. The treaty also represents one of the last attempts to keep the growing power of the Assyrians of what is now northern Iraq out of the area controlled by the Hittites and the Egyptians.

However, it was not Assyria which caused the fall of the Hittite Empire. The blow was delivered by the so-called "Sea People," a group of possibly Indo-European tribes of disputed origin who attacked much of the Middle East by land and sea around 1200 BC. Eventually these people were stopped by Pharaoh Ramses III just at the borders of his own kingdom, but the damage was done. The Hittite kingdom was destroyed, along with many famous cities of the Anatolian and Syro-Palestinian coast. However, Hittite cultural traditions were kept alive for the next few hundred years in the so-called Neo-Hittite states of southern Turkey and northern Syria. And the ruins of many of their constructions can be admired all over Anatolia.

Among them is the capital of the Hittite kingdom, Hattusas, located 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Ankara and a few kilometers north of the Turkish town of Yozgat. Here, thanks to German excavations conducted for most of this century, the city's ancient temples, palaces, and gates can be recognized, among many other structures. Although mostly only foundations are preserved, one cannot help but stand there breathless, thinking about the amount of work—and organization—required to construct such monumental buildings.

Here and there, large intact storage jars that may once have held oil or grain or wine protrude from the ground. One can peer through what used to be huge windows at the cella, the temple's innermost shrine where the Hittites' gods dwelt. Gates, secret tunnels and other parts of the city's defense system can be seen, for the Hittites were masters of defensive construction. One of the first bridges ever built is part of Boğazköy's city walls, carrying them across a narrow gorge. It's hard to imagine that such a fabulous city with so much protection was destroyed and rebuilt more than once. It's even harder to imagine that its constructors were forgotten for 30 centuries.

Only two kilometers (1.2 miles) northeast of Hattusas there is another interesting monument of the Hittite past: a natural rock sanctuary. The place is known as Yazılıkaya—"the written rock" in Turkish—for processions of deities from the Hittite pantheon are carved into the galleries of stone. On the west side of the Great Gallery are mostly male gods, led by the Weather God of Heaven, while the east side belongs to their female counterparts, headed by the Sun Goddess of Arinna; the two processions meet in the middle of the north wall. The Small Gallery has a procession of twelve well-preserved, almost identical, gods on its west wall while the east one is dedicated to the Sword God, a deity whose significance is still unknown.

The cemetery of Hattusas lies outside the city, close to the road leading to Yazılıkaya. It consists of various graves, pottery vessels, or simple niches and crevices prepared for both cremation and inhumation burials. In many cases, animal remains have been recorded in these graves together with human bodies. Why? We simply don't know yet. The other mystery in this cemetery is the large number of graves in which an adult and a child were found buried together. Is this a coincidence, or some sort of religious custom—not suggested by anything in the texts—that required child sacrifice?

There are many other places in modern Turkey where one can still see and touch the fabulous past of the first recorded Indo-Europeans—the Hittites. Although forgotten for many centuries, they are finally getting the recognition due them for their contribution to the history of humankind. Their power was once at least equal to that of pharaonic Egypt; now their fame may also grow as great, as we search for our past in the beauty of the Turkish land.

Anthropologist and archeologist Ewa Wasilewska earned an M.A. from Warsaw University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, where she is a professor of anthropology.

This article appeared on pages 16-23 of the September/October 1994 print edition of Saudi Aramco World.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 12:29:47 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 12:30:26 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2007, 11:22:50 am »


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ANATOLIA - New clues among the old..

Anatolia, or Asiatic Turkey, is 400 miles from the Black Sea on the north, to the Mediterranean, on the south, and about 1,000 miles from east to west. Asia Minor is the name given to Anatolia by the Romans. It served as a battlefield, staging ground, or migratory route for so many armies and peoples that William Hamilton, of the Royal Geological Society, declared in 1842 that "there is scarcely a spot of ground however small that does not contain some relic of antiquity." While that fact made Anatolia a rich hunting ground for historical ruins and sites, it made the location or identification of individual sites difficult, even where evidence narrowed the search to the familiar.  Persian, Greek, or Roman ruins were expected - and relatively easy to identify. The unfamiliar was another matter.


Hatussa - Something permanent emerges from the ruins...

Hatussa, the capital city of the Hittite Empire, was destroyed, sometime around 1200 or 1190 B.C..  Its fortress, designed in hopes of withstanding a siege or attack, proved inadequate and less than permanent. Ironically, something in the planning or construction of the buildings housing the administrative records would both hide them from discovery while protecting them against the ravages of time. More than 25,000 clay tablets would survive to tell the story of the Empire. It would owe its legacy, not to the armies which symbolized it powers, but to the planners, builders, scribes, and workmen who compiled and stored its records. Evidence that Hatussa existed did not completely disappear with its destruction, but its significance would need to be rediscovered.

In 1834, the French archaeologist Charles-Félix-Marie Texier, was traveling through the highlands of central Anatolia looking for the ruins of the Roman settlement of Tavium. He was uncertain as to the exact location and simply asked the locals about nearby ruins.  At the village of Boghazköy (now Boghazkäle), some 90 miles east of present-day Ankara, he was told of a site located in the hills above. What he found was a settlement with a perimeter of four miles containing a towered wall three-quarters of a mile across.  The foundation stones of a large building could be seen inside the ruins.  While he knew the ruins were not those of  Tavium or any other Roman or Greek settlement, he could not otherwise identify them.  He thought they might be Pteria, a Sixth-Century B.C. town seized by Croessus, the Lydian king.  Hatussa had been rediscovered, although Texier did not associate the ruins with the Hittites.

Texier was also puzzled by what he saw at a nearby location. About a mile beyond the fortified remains was an exposed crevice of limestone on which had been carved 66 figures seemingly in procession.  It was called Yazilikaya or the "Inscribed rock."

The Hamathite Hieroglyphics
The key to the identification of Hatussa would be language. Texier observed some hieroglyphics, both among the ruins of the city and at Yazilikaya, which clearly were not Greek or Roman. The inscriptions, while unfamiliar to him, had been seen relatively recently at Hamath, a Syrian city some 350 miles to the south.  The Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt had traveled through Palestine and Syria between 1809 and 1817 and had seen a stone covered with hieroglyphics in the wall of a house in Hamath. His journal, published in 1822, mentioned the stone. Unfortunately the significance of Burckhardt's stone was unrecognized at the time and the stone itself seemingly disappeared until 1870.

J. Augustus Johnson, the American consul general in Syria, and Jessup, an American missionary, journeyed to Hamath (now Hama) in search of Burckhardt's stone.  They located the stone he described, plus three more.  A crowd of local Muslims prevented them from taking impressions of the stones, since it was believed that the inscriptions could cure rheumatism, however, a native painter managed to copy the hieroglyphs.  The paintings would be seen by an Irish missionary named William Wright in 1871.  When Wright and the British consul in Damascus, W. Kirby Green, received an invitation to accompany Subhi Pasha, Syria's Turkish governor, on an official visit to Hamath in 1872, they hoped at least to copy the inscriptions.

The citizens of Hamath were suspicious of Wright and Green, particularly after they begin inquiring about the stones.  It was believed that the inscriptions they contained were a magical cure for rheumatism.  Everyone they asked denied that there were any stones like the ones they wanted in Hamath.  Finally one man admitted not only that he knew of one such stone, but that it was embedded in the wall of his house.  Having found one person willing to acknowledge the existence of the stones, the townspeople showed them where the others could be found.  Being allowed to copy the hieroglyphics may have been the original intent of Wright, Green, and even Subhi Pasha. However when he was shown the inscriptions his goals became more ambitious.  He wanted, not just copies of the inscriptions, but the stones themselves. He gave an order to physically remove the stones so that they could be shipped to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum. He was one of the Museum's patrons.  He also sent a telegram to the sultan, notifying him of the find and requesting that the stones be accepted for the museum's collection.

The Hamathites gathering on the streets vowed to destroy the stones rather than allow them to be taken away. Subhi Pasha posted soldiers to protect the stones from the hostile crowds. (Two of the four were found in occupied houses.) The actual removal of the relics was a monumental task in itself. One was so large that it took 50 men and four oxen an entire day to move it just a mile to the government guesthouse. An unexpected event seemed to throw one more obstacle in the path of the enterprise.  A meteor shower that night was interpreted as an evil omen by the Hamathites, somehow connected to the removal of the stones.  A delegation asked the governor to return them. Subhi Pasha suggested that since no one had been hurt by the falling stars, they were a good omen. Allah was pleased that the stones were being delivered to the Khalif.

Subhi Pasha's interpretation may have been enough to placate the Hamathites but Wright and Green apparently harbored some doubts about the fate of the stones. They determined to make casts of the inscriptions before the stones were shipped.  The British Museum was to receive one. They made the other for the Palestine Exploration Fund.

For all the furor caused by the discovery and removal of the stones, the language in which they had been written was unrecognized.  The people who had written or inscribed the symbols were unknown.  As a result the language of the hieroglyphs became known as "Hamathite," for the city where the stones were found.

A recognizable, but nevertheless "official," name conferred legitimacy. Even the name of a city, was better than nothing. Hamathite suddenly began turning up everywhere. A stone with Hamathite hieroglyphics had been found at Aleppo, 75 miles north of Hamath.  It was seen on rock carvings at Ivris, in south-central Turkey in 1875.  It would be found at an archaeological site at Carchemish, on the Euphrates River along the Syrian-Turkish border.

No connection was immediately made between Hamathite and the hieroglyphs found at the ruins at Boghazköy or Yazilikaya, although a French professor named Georges Perrot had published pictures of the hieroglyphics found at Texier's site in 1872, the same year the Hamath stones were recovered. In 1879 a British linguist named Archibald Henry Sayce noticed that some of the Hamathite hieroglyphs from the Hamath and Carchemish stones matched those in Perrot's pictures. All three seemed similar to those carved on a cliff at Smyrna in Turkey. In 1880 Sayce announced that the hieroglyphs were the same and that the people who had carved them were the Hittites.

Conflicting claims to the Hittite name...
In chapters six and seven of the Old Testament Second Book of Kings, there is a story of a siege of Samaria, the capital city of the Kingdom of Israel, by a Syrian army. When the defenders had all but given up hope of withstanding the siege, they heard the sounds of the horses and chariots of an approaching army.  The terrified Syrians fled.  Word spread among the army: "The king of Israel has hired the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Egypt to attack us."  (The siege probably took place during the reign of Jehoram (852 - 841 B.C.).) There were other Biblical references to the Hittites.  Abraham bought the cave in which to place the body of his dead wife, Sarah, from Ephron the Hittite.  Solomon had several Hittite wives and also sold horses to one of the kings of the Hittites.

When Sayce made his 1880 Hittite announcement, he was relying, not just on the Biblical references to the Hittites, but also on recently discovered Egyptian and Assyrian writings which mentioned a mighty people dwelling in a land called Hatti.  At the same time, Sayce, as a popular lecturer,  had an eye for the public relations side of the archaeological field.  There was little doubt the Bible held a certain fascination for the public.  Any archaeological discovery tied to a Biblical story was sure to arouse the public's interest.  The meeting of the Society for Biblical Archaeology where Sayce made his announcement was packed.

William Wright, the Irish missionary, had reached the same conclusion six years earlier. He had discussed the inscriptions found on the Hamath stones he helped recover, in an article in the "British and Foreign Evangelical Review," published in 1874.  To be sure, Sayce had an additional six years of evidence supporting his argument and his linguistics background made his assertions credible.  Sayce also had his critics.  There was the suggestion that he had "invented" the Hittites.  However, where Sayce was at least given a hearing, Wright had largely been ignored.

Despite the haste with which they put together their theory about the Hittites, Wright and Sayce would eventually be proved correct - in most respects. They had linked the stones found at Hamath with the hieroglyphics found at Boghazköy and Yazilikaya. They had also correctly identified Anatolia as the country or region of origin for the Hittite armies.  Most importantly, they had established the existence of a hitherto unknown people, which they called the Hittites.  In focusing on the Bible however, they had confused the dates.  The Hittites who delivered the Israelites from the Syrian army were not the same Hittites who had carved the inscriptions on the stones found at Hamath.  The Hittite Empire, whose kings and scribes had communicated through the Hamathite hieroglyphics, had come to an end around 1200 B.C.. 

The Hittite culture continued, even though the Empire ended.  The people who replaced the Hittites spoke the same language and lived in the same cities.  If the fall of the Hittites left the region in chaos after 1200 B.C., the new peoples managed to recover by 1000 B.C., when they formed a coalition.  It would last until 700 B.C..  To the outside world, including the Israelites, the Hittite kingdom had somehow remained intact, and, if nothing else, carried on the successful military tradition of the Empire. Scholars would classify the new group as Neo-Hittite, to distinguish it from the Hittites of the empire period.

In some ways the decision to classify the Hamathite writers as "true" Hittites and the later peoples as Neo-Hittites was an arbitrary one.  Perhaps it was related to the adage that those who write history have more power to make history than those who merely participate or act in history's events.  The Hamathite hieroglyphics, as written records, might carry more weight because they represented what the Hittites were willing to reveal about themselves.  The Hittite label used by the Israelites was something applied to them by foreigners.

A Rosetta stone for the Hittite language
In 1799, members of Napoleon's Egyptian expedition discovered the Rosetta stone, which would provide the key to unlocking the ancient Egyptian language.  It contained three versions of the same text.  The first was a hieroglyphic (picture script) version of Egyptian.  The second was a connected form of Egyptian writing, called demotic.  The third was in Greek.  In 1822 the French philologist Jean-Francois Champollion, working at Abu Simbel, guessed correctly that two pictographs he was trying to decipher could be translated as the names for the pharaohs Ramses and Thutmose.  The pictures were not abstract or independent symbols, but phonetic clues to the way the words would have been pronounced.

The Hittite language would have its own version of the "Rosetta stone" story, although it would take nearly seventy years from the 1872 Hamath discovery for the story to unfold. In 1946 a professor at the University of Istanbul, Helmuth T. Bossert, was excavating a site at Karatepe, a Neo-Hittite fortress in southern Turkey. At two of the entrance ways he found slabs which were inscribed with identical texts in Hittite and Phoenician.  Their length provided an extensive vocabulary and the final means to understand the Hittite language. Much had been deciphered by the Czech Assyriologist Bedrich Hrozny before 1919.  He deduced that Hittite was an Indo-European language which, like Egyptian, was phonetic.  He had not totally broken the Hittite code, but he did publish an extensive translation of the tablets of Hatussa.

While the Hittite language itself would remain something of an enigma until the 1946 discovery,  the Hittite story was revealed through the language of another ancient peoples, the Babylonians.  The Hittites, it turned out, could both read and write in Akkadian, the name for the wedge-shaped Babylonian cuneiform language. Many of the letters they wrote in Hittite were also translated into Akkadian and archived as backup copies at Hatussa.

In 1887 a cache of clay tablets was found at Tell el-Amarna, the site of 14th century B.C. city of Akhetaten.  The pharaoh Akhenaten had made it his capital. It was located about 200 miles south of Cairo. Most of the tablets were inscribed in Akkadian, more commonly used in ancient diplomatic correspondence than Egyptian hieroglyphics.  Two of the letters however, were in a non-Akkadian cuneiform which was labeled as Arzawa.  Six years later, in 1893, similar cuneiform inscriptions would be found at Boghazköy.

In 1905 a German Assyriologist named Hugo Winckler, began excavating Boghazköy.  By 1910 he would uncover some 10,000 tablets and fragments there.  While there were many tablets in Arzawa, the fragments he found most helpful were those in Akkadian.  One well-preserved tablet was the text of a treaty which Winckler had seen inscribed on the walls of the temple at Karnak in Egypt and at the Ramesseum, Ramse's mortuary temple.  The Babylonian texts did not enable Winckler to translate the Arzawa inscriptions but they did provide clues to the reigns of the Hittite kings and an outline of Hittite history.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 12:31:11 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2007, 11:47:22 am »


 by Nicolas Cheviron - Wed Dec 13, 2006

In this central Turkish village, peasants and archaeologists celebrate a unique achievement -- a 3,246-year-old dam, once buried under mud and slime, is back in service to irrigate farmlands.
The dam is a heritage of the Hittites, who ruled over vast areas of the Middle East from 2000 to 1000 BC, fought Pharaoh Rameses The Great, among others, and built some of the biggest cities of the time in the heart of Anatolia, the Asian part of modern Turkey.

The 2,500 inhabitants of Alacahoyuk know the Hittites well: since the early 20th century, archaeologists have been digging the remains of a royal city at the entrance of their village about 160 kilometers (100 miles) east of Ankara.


The tombs of the settlement, its foundations still guarded by two imposing stone lions, have yielded some of the most precious Hittite treasures -- plates, jewelry, bronze and gold statuettes now on display at the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara.

The dam, however, was unknown until 2002, when a team of Ankara University archaeologists began a new dig in marshlands about two kilometers (1.2 mile) away.

Assisted by the government and local authorities, the team removed 2.5 million cubic meters (88 million cubic feet) of mud from the site to recover the dam, and, after some restoration, put it back into operation.

Built by a barren hill surrounded by poplars, the reservoir has a capacity to hold up to 30,000 cubic meters (1.1 million cubic feet) of water from a subterranean stream.

It came complete with an antique purifying pool to make the water drinkable, as well as irrigation channels.

"It is the only dam in the world to have been repaired and put into use for its original purpose 3,240 years after its construction... It is truly unique," Aykut Cinaroglu, the head of the archaelogical team in charge of the dig, said proudly.

The dam, he explained, is the only one surviving from 10 dams built by the Hittite king Tudhaliyas IV, in 1240 B.C.

The king ordered the dams built after he was forced to import wheat from Egypt to save his people from famine after drought hit the Anatolian farmlands.

The dam wall of stone and natural clay was built in a way that experts say strikingly resembles modern-day construction techniques.

"The only difference is that today we use cement instead of clay, although clay is still used in the construction of some dams," archaeologist Duygu Celik said.

Alacahoyuk Mayor Huseyin Saykan was equally enthusiastic about the latest gift from the Hittites to his people: the ancient tribe's heritage has already secured a flow of thousands of tourists -- and revenues -- to the village every year.

"Up to now, this area was merely a swamp and the water was wasted... Our people could not irrigate their fields," he said. "But now they can, thanks to the Hittite dam that has returned to its original function."

Monday, December 11, 2006

« Last Edit: June 20, 2007, 12:13:59 pm by Bianca2001 » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2008, 02:36:26 pm »


BBC on the Hittites/Hatti people:
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