Life and Society in the Hittite World

By Trevor Bryce | Go to book overview

Synopsis of Hittite History

The kingdom of the Hittites rose in the central Anatolian plateau, in the region called the Land of Hatti, during the early decades of the seventeenth century BC. In the course of the next 500 years, the period we call the Late Bronze Age, the Hittites built an empire which extended across much of the Anatolian landmass and from there through northern Syria to the western fringes of Mesopotamia. Throughout its history it was ruled by a royal dynasty from the city of Hattusa (modern Boğazköy/Boğazkale), the religious and administrative capital of the empire. The official language of the kingdom was an Indo-European language called Nesite, which we commonly refer to today as the 'Hittite' language. Its use harks back to the dominance of an Indo-European group in the region during the so-called Assyrian Colony period. From its base in the city of Nesa, the leaders of this group gained control over large parts of the eastern half of Anatolia a century or so before the emergence of the Hittite kingdom. Indo-European speakers may have first entered Anatolia during the third millennium, or even earlier. After their arrival one branch of them intermingled with a central Anatolian people called the Hattians (hence the name Hatti), and to begin with, the Hittite population and civilization were primarily an admixture of Indo-European and Hattian elements. Throughout their history, however, the Hittites absorbed many other ethnic and cultural elements within the fabric of their civilization, through the system of transportation in the wake of military conquest as well as through a range of foreign cultural influences and commercial contacts.

Scholars commonly divide Hittite history into two, or three, main phases. These are largely arbitrary divisions, and views differ widely on where one period should end and another begin. Nevertheless in accordance with the modern convention I have divided the Late Bronze Age civilization into two phases, an Old Kingdom (down to c.1400 BC) and a New Kingdom (from c.1400 to the early twelfth

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Life and Society in the Hittite World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • List of Illustrations viii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • List of Hittite Kings xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Synopsis of Hittite History 8
  • Chapter 1 - King, Court, and Royal Officials 11
  • Chapter 2 - The People and the Law 32
  • Chapter 3 - The Scribe 56
  • Chapter 4 - The Farmer 72
  • Chapter 5 - The Merchant 87
  • Chapter 6 - The Warrior 98
  • Chapter 7 - Marriage 119
  • Chapter 8 - The Gods 134
  • Chapter 9 - The Curers of Diseases 163
  • Chapter 10 - Death, Burial, and the Afterlife 176
  • Chapter 11 - Festivals and Rituals 187
  • Chapter 12 - Myth 211
  • Chapter 13 - The Capital 230
  • Chapter 14 - Links Across the Wine-Dark Sea 257
  • Notes 269
  • Bibliography 293
  • Index 302
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