Life and Society in the Hittite World

Life and Society in the Hittite World

Life and Society in the Hittite World

Life and Society in the Hittite World

Synopsis

'A readable and up-to-date synthesis which can introduce the wider public to the Hittites as a human society, the author has provided this in a masterly way... Bryce gets behind the mask of the official records, and gives us the Hittites' inner thoughts... thoughtful and informative book.' -John Ray, Times Literary SupplementThe Hittites were an ancient people (of Indo-European connection) of Asia Minor and Syria, who flourished from 1600 to 1200 BC. Trevor Bryce uses the most recent scholarship and archaeological discoveries to examine their society and civilization. This book aims to convey to the reader a sense of what it was like to live amongst the people of the Hittite world, to participate in their celebrations, to share their crises, to meet them in the streets of the capital or in their homes, to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of their rituals, to attend an audience with the Great King, and to follow his progress in festival processions to the holy places of the Hittite land.

Excerpt

Some 28 kilometres east of the city of Izmir on Turkey's western coast, there is a mountain pass called Karabel. Overlooking the pass is a relief cut in the face of the rock. It depicts a male human figure armed with bow and spear, and sword with crescent-shaped pommel. On his head is a tall peaked cap. A weathered inscription provides information about him—for those able to read it. Herodotos visited the monument in the fifth century BC. He describes it in his Histories and provides a translation of the inscription which, he declares, is written in the sacred script of Egypt: 'With my own shoulders I won this land.' The conqueror does not tell us his name, but his costume is part Egyptian, part Ethiopian, and he is to be identified with Sesostris, prince of Egypt—at least that is what Herodotos would have us believe!

Twenty-three centuries later, in the year 1834, a French adventurer-explorer called Charles Texier is searching in central Turkey for the remains of a Celtic city called Tavium, referred to in Roman sources. The locals tell him of some ancient ruins 150 kilometres east of Ankara. Texier visits the ruins. They are vast— far exceeding in size anything described in Classical sources. One of the entrance gates to the city bears a relief of a warrior—armed, beardless, with long hair, wearing a tasselled helmet and a kilt. Texier is mystified. It is like no other figure known from the ancient world. The locals tell him that there are more figures nearby. They lead him to an outcrop of rock, about thirty minutes' walk from the ruins. This brings further surprises. The rock walls are decorated with relief sculptures—processions of human figures clothed in strange garments, of hitherto unknown types. The reliefs are accompanied by mysterious inscriptions, totally unintelligible. They can be neither read nor identified. But they are dubbed 'hieroglyphic' because of a superficial resemblance to the hieroglyphic script of Egypt. The whole thing remains a bewildering mystery.

We move forward four decades, to the year 1876. In London a . . .

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