by Wikipedia
published on 28 April 2011

The Hittites were an ancient Anatolian people who spoke a language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa on the central Anatolian plateau in the 18th century BCE. The Hittite Empire reached its height around 1285 BCE, encompassing a large part of Anatolia, north-western Syria about as far south as the mouth of the Litani River, and eastward into upper Mesopotamia. After c. 1180 BCE, the empire disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some surviving until as late as the 8th century BCE.

The term "Hittites" was taken from the King James translation of the Hebrew Bible, translating חתי HTY, or בני-חת BNY-HT "Children of Heth" (Heth is a son of Canaan). The archaeologists who discovered the Anatolian Hittites in the 19th century CE initially identified them with these Biblical Hittites. Today the identification of the Biblical peoples with either the Hattusa-based empire or the Neo-Hittite kingdoms is a matter of dispute.

The Hittite kingdom was commonly called the Land of Hatti by the Hittites themselves. The fullest expression is "The Land of the City of Hattusa". This description could be applied to either the entire empire, or more narrowly just to the core territory, depending on context. The word "Hatti" is actually an Akkadogram, rather than Hittite; it is never declined according to Hittite grammatical rules. Despite the use of "Hatti", the Hittites should be distinguished from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the same region until the beginning of the 2nd millennium BCE, and spoke a non-Indo-European language called Hattic. The Hittites themselves referred to their language as Nesili (or in one case, Kanesili), an adverbial form meaning "in the manner of (Ka)nesa", presumably reflecting a high concentration of Hittite speakers in the ancient city of Kanesh (modern Kültepe, Turkey). Many modern city names in Turkey are first recorded under their Hittite names, such as Sinop and Adana, reflecting the contiguity of modern Anatolia with its ancient past.

Although belonging to the Bronze Age, the Hittites were forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the 14th century BCE, when letters to foreign rulers reveal the demand for their iron goods. Recent excavations, however, have discovered evidence of iron tool production dating back at least as far as the 20th century BCE. Hittite weapons were made from bronze, though; iron was so rare and precious that it was employed only in prestige goods. In warfare the Hittites were famous for their skill in building and using chariots. These chariots gave them a military superiority as illustrated on a plate from Carchemish.

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Visual Timeline
  • c. 1750 BCE
    The Hittites invade the region of the Hatti and begin a systematic campaign against them. The great city of Hattusa is sacked and destroyed.
  • 1650 BCE
    Under the Hittite Warrior-King Hattusili, campaigns are carried to completion subjugating the Hatti. Hattusa is re-built as the Hittite capital. The Hatti are assimilated into the Hittite culture.
  • c. 1600 BCE - c. 800 BCE
    Aleppo is under Hittite control.
  • 1595 BCE
    King Mursilis of the Hittites sacks Babylon. Begin of Babylonian "dark ages."
  • 1595 BCE
    Hittites sack Babylon, ending Amorite rule.
  • c. 1380 BCE
    First instances of iron working in the Hittite Empire.
  • c. 1380 BCE
    Hittite capital, Hattusa, burned to the ground by Kaska invaders.
  • 1350 BCE - 1250 BCE
    The Hittite empire is at its peak.
  • c. 1344 BCE - 1322 BCE
    King Suppiluliumas I of the Hittites sacks the Mitanni capital Washukanni and installs Artatama II as vassal king.
  • c. 1321 BCE
    Western Mittani is conquered by the Hittites.
  • 1285 BCE
    Peak of Hittite power.
  • 1274 BCE
    Battle of Kadesh between Pharaoh Ramesses II of Egypt and King Muwatalli II of the Hittites.
  • c. 1245 BCE
    Battle of Nihriya: Sulmanu-ašared I of Assyria defeats Tudḫalia IV of Hittite.
  • 1200 BCE
    Phrygians invade Anatolia and destroy the Hittite empire.
  • 1200 BCE
    Lydia arises as a Neo-Hittite kingdom.
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