Hittite Period


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VI. Hittite Period ( 2,000 - 700 BCE.) 

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The first really a major civilization to emerge in Anatolia was that of the Hittites. Although where they moved from is still debatable, generally believed that they had moved from Caucasus area. Moving into Hatti territory, they seem to have first appeared in Anatolia, around 2,000 BCE, but the first state was established by King Labarnas between 1700 and 1600 BCE. In the Hittite records, a prince with name Anitta is considered the traditional founder of the Hittite dynasty, but it took some more time to establish an organized state which was later to be established by Hattusilis I, who built his capital at Hattusas. The history of Hittites begins about 1700 BCE and ends in 712 BCE. The history of the Hittites falls within three main periods of time.

  1. Old Hittite Kingdom (1720 to 1480 BCE)

  2. Great Hittite Kingdom or Imperial Hittites (1480 to 1190 BCE)

  3. Late Hittite City States (1190 to 712 BCE)

  1. Old Hittite Kingdom (1720 - 1480 BCE)

This is the first political organization in Anatolia, although people before Hittites have lived and built there, they were far from being a political entity. Labarnas I built a strong state and organized his people under his command and also gave his name to the first dynasty of the Hittites. His successor Labarnas II has moved the capital of the Kingdom from Kussara to Hattusas (modern Bogazkale) which has become later the capital of Hittites for over the centuries. Labarnas II has also made successful campaigns against Aleppo (now in Syria) and captured it. His grandson Mursilis I (1620-1590) after succeeding his grand father has marched towards Babylon and put an end to Hammurabi dynasty. But in the capital city was awaiting a bad surprise for him, on returning from his campaigns, ha was murdered by his brother in law, and an interregnum period began in Anatolia at the cost of loss of territories captured and conquered earlier. So, this period of intrigues and fights over the throne continued to year 1525 BCE, when Telepinus became the sole ruler over the Hittite Lands. One of the many reforms he has made was the foundation of a high court called Pankus. This court had a power even to judge the King himself. The 20 years following Telepinus' death was a big chaos and disorder.

  1. Great Hittite State or Imperial Period

We have the names of 14 kings who were active during this period. Among these were Suppiluliumas I ( 1375-1345 BCE ), Mursilis II ( 1315 - 1282 BCE ), Hattusilis III, Tudhaliyas IV ( 1250-1230 BCE ). During the reign of Muwattalli, Ramses II was in power in Egypt, the war between two most powerful states in the Middle East area has resulted in the first written international treaty known to us as " Kadesh Treaty ".  Although this treaty was written originally in Akkadian language, copies in Hittite and Egyptian have been made. Tudhaliyas was one of the most reformist kings in the Hittite history, and he also organized internal and religious affairs. Most of the ruins visible today in Hattusas come from his time. The main problems of this period was the Assyrians who were unwilling to come to any terms with Hittites and also a heavy famine hit the country that was solved by the help of Egyptians who supplied wheat in accordance with the terms of Kadesh Treaty. The unexpected end of the Hittites was not because of Assyrians, but it came from the West, the flog of people known as ' Sea Peoples ' in the book of History of Herodotus, have destroyed much of Asia Minor including Hittite cities and Hattusas. This destruction happened in about 1200 BCE, and the Hittites have never been able to restore their state again. Those who survived have moved down to Northern Syria and established themselves as small city states.

  1. Hittite City States (1190 - 712 BCE)

The people who survived the massacre of the foreign invaders ' Sea Peoples ' have moved to Northern Syria and integrated with native people of the area and built many towns. As the survivors of the Hittites were far from being a political unity, we know this period as City States Period. It would be wrong to believe that these people were the continuation of the Hittites, because their political and art life show significant differences from area to area. So, they must have been assimilated by the local cultures, but they also have maintained some of their native art and culture. The remaining Hittite cities and towns have been totally destroyed by the Assyrians who had, at every opportunity, attacked the Hittites. Thus, from around 700 BCE, all of the Hittite towns have been incorporated into Assyrian states and provinces. The vacuum created by the disappearance of the Hittites in Anatolia was filled by the Luwians a native community, Phrygians the people of the King Midas, and by Urartians in the eastern Anatolia.

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Travels around Asia Minor 1976-2002
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Last Update : December, 2011