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Middle East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia




MapHittites / Hatti (Kheta)

FeatureThe Hittites were an Indo-European people who emerged in circa 1800 BC, after apparently being part of a migration route of Indo-Europeans from the steppe territory north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, much of which is now within Ukraine and Russia. This, of course, this is far from certain and very little else is known about their origins because they arrived in an Anatolia that was still largely unmentioned in the historical record. They spoke an archaic Indo-European dialect which was closer to proto-Indo-European than any other variant which has been discovered to have existed at this point in time. This likely places them in the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language group (South Indo-Europeans), which appears to have separated early from the other branches.

FeatureThe Hittites must be distinguished from the Hatti, who were an earlier, non-Indo-European people who inhabited the same region. They were conquered by the Hittites, who to all intents replaced them in their homeland, taking on their civilisation, gods, and way of life. (See feature link, right, for an examination of the origins of the Hittites.) However, the early Hittites referred to themselves as Neshites, after the city of Kanesh which they conquered in the early eighteenth century. They were referred to as Hatti by their neighbours throughout their existence as a nation, and their state as 'The Land of the City of Hattusa', but this was largely down to their neighbours not being willing to distinguish between the Hatti and their conquerors. The Hittites are also mentioned in the King James Bible, translating their name as 'Children of Heth', the son of Canaan. However, equating them or the later neo-Hittite states with the Bible's Hittites is still a matter of contention.

(Additional information by Edward Dawson, from The Horse The Wheel and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC: Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History, William J Hamblin (Routledge, 2006), and from External Links: Indo-European Chronology - Countries and Peoples, and Indo-European Etymological Dictionary, J Pokorny, and A Brief History of Hattusha/Boğazköy (from Archive.today).)

c.2300 BC

Some time after this point, Luwian-speakers settle in Anatolia, just to the south of the (probably indigenous) Hatti. The Luwians are Indo-Europeans of the southern group - generally agreed to have been the first group to migrate out of the original Indo-European homeland to the north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. The route they have taken in their migration is open to interpretation (and guesswork!), but a route through the Caucuses seems most likely, followed by a more easterly route around the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea. The Luwians form two major regional states, Arzawa and Kizzuwatna.

Map of proto-Anatolian migration 3000-2000 BC
This map attempts to illustrate in basic terms the separate paths taken by the Luwians, Hittites, and Pala during their westwards migration and their progress from proto-Anatolians to kingdom-builders (click on map to view full sized)

Around the same time, 'barbarians from the north' are causing problems in cities within Syria, likely to be Luwians testing their defences. The Hittites, however, make no such appearance in written records for a further five hundred years or so. During this time they most likely remain in whatever grazing lands their cattle occupy to the south of the Caucus Mountains. Why they remain behind for so long when the Luwians have found a new home is unknown. Why they begin to move around the end of the nineteenth century BC so that they arrive in central Anatolia shortly after the beginning of the eighteenth century BC is equally unknown. Population increase and the need for fresh grazing land may be the best reasons.

early 18th cent BC

Pithana / Pitkhana

Tribal leader. Became king of Hatti Kussara and then Kanesh.

Pithana, the earliest-documented Hittite ruler, and his son rule their newly conquered domain in Anatolia from the unlocated city of Kussara. Pithana later conquers the Hatti city of Kanesh, centre of the Assyrian trading colonies in Anatolia, perhaps moving his capital there (and probably ending Assyrian trading there too).

mid-18th cent BC


Son. King of Kussara & Kanesh.

At the very start of his reign Anitta defeats Piyusti, king of Hatti. A second battle at the city of Salampa sees Piyusti defeated again. He retreats and fortifies his capital at Hattousha (Hattusa), but Anitta storms and conquers it after famine has weakened the defenders. Anitta also attacks the city of Zalpa, recapturing the Kaneshan god and ending the threat from the north.

Next, Anitta turns his attention southwards and defeats the city of Salatiwara in two campaigns (which lies on a road connecting the kingdoms of Wahsusana and Purushanda). In the final stage of his campaigns, Anitta marches against the important city of Purushanda and the king surrenders without offering battle.

The city of Hattusa
The city of Hattusa seen from the southern fortifications, with the ruins of the huge temple of the storm god in the centre

With these victories he brings the entire valley of the River Kizil Irmak up to its mouth on the Black Sea under Hittite control. In composing a text celebrating the victory, Anitta creates the first Hittite inscriptions, and the earliest-known Indo-European writings. Anitta's kingdom at Kussara collapses soon after his death, but his descendants remain based there for another century.


Son. At Kussara? May never have become king.


At Kanesh?

Kanesh is destroyed around this time by a king of Salatiwara, perhaps at the end of Zuzzu's reign. This point represents the definitive end of the Assyrian trading colonies. Kanesh fades completely as the Hittites withdraw to Kussara.

MapOld Hittite Empire
c.1740 - 1500 BC

Following their initial defeat of the Hatti, and a century of obscurity, the Hittites bounced back to quickly centralise power in Asia Minor and create a state of their own. They were culturally influenced by the Hurrians on their eastern border during this period, with several rulers bearing Hurrian names and Hurrian Vedic gods being worshipped (for instance at Yazilikaya). As in Egypt, their king was both the supreme judge and high priest. They also borrowed a large number of Hattic words into their language, especially references to the trappings of power, such as throne, lord, king, queen, palace, priest, heir-apparent, and many others.

Hattusili I founded a new capital at Hattousha (Hattusa - modern Boğazkale in Turkey), which would remain the centre of the empire until its fall. While the Hittites destroyed the Amorite Old Babylonian empire, they also absorbed much of Mesopotamian culture, and were later responsible for disseminating it throughout the eastern Mediterranean. Although originally speakers of proto-Anatolian and its daughter language, Hittite, their later language must have been as greatly enriched and altered by their experiences as modern English has been by its own experiences with Danes, French Normans, Indian empire, and American settlements.

All dates for the Old Hittites are approximate and are taken from three lists and various notes. All names can also be spelt to end with an 's'. Following the collapse of the earlier Hittite kingdom of Kussara, little is known about them until Hattusili I created the Old Hittite empire.

(Additional information from The Horse The Wheel and Language: How Bronze Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World, David W Anthony, from Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC: Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History, William J Hamblin (Routledge, 2006), and from External Link: A Brief History of Hattusha/Boğazköy (from Archive.today).)

c.1740 - 1710 BC

Tudhaliya I?

King of Kussara.

While not very powerful at this stage, the Hittites appear to make a tentative step towards expansion by establishing a colony at Yadiya, not far to the east.

Hittite old city
The Hittite 'Old City' (which was probably based on the ruins of the Hatti city) comprised an area of almost one square kilometre, being protected by a massive fortification wall while on the high ridge of Büyükkale was the residence of the 'Great King', and the city lay on the slope below to the north-west, reaching towards the valley below

c.1710 - 1680 BC


King of Kussara.

c.1680 - 1650 BC

Labarna I

King of Kussara. First confirmed Hittite king.

c.1670? BC

The city state of Zalpa, resurgent after the Hittite victory under Anitta, is finally defeated by Labarna I.

Labarna II?

Reign uncertain. He may have renamed himself Hattusili.

c.1650 - 1620 BC

Hattusili I

Nephew/adopted son of Labarna, but which is uncertain.

Under Hattusili, heir to the throne of Kassura, the Hittites rapidly defeat their competitors in central Anatolia, probably inflicting a final defeat on the Hatti and establishing a new capital at Hattusa (a theory is that Labarna II takes the name Hattusili in recognition of the victory, meaning 'one from Hattusa'). Then they invade Arzawa in western Anatolia, and march across the Euphrates to destroy cities in Ishuwa. This is followed up by the attack and destruction of several vassals of the Syrian state of Yamkhad over a span of several years, extending their own domains south into Syria. A Hittite viceroy is placed in control of the Syrian state of Carchemish, while in Amurru a local king is allowed to govern as a vassal. Ebla is also destroyed, either by Hattusili or his son. Later claims are made that ties of friendship with Wilusa date from this period.

c.1620 - 1590 BC

Mursili I

Grandson/adopted son.

c.1595 BC

Taking advantage of the increasing decline of Babylon, Mursili takes his army down the Euphrates and sacks the city. On the way he ransacks and destroys the city of Alep in Syria, and passes through Terqa.

When he returns home he is murdered by his brother-in-law, who himself is also killed. Various parties then contest the throne and this internal instability prevents the Hittites from gaining any benefit from their conquests in Syria and Mesopotamia. The Hittite state does not re-emerge as a major power until the fourteenth century BC.

c.1590 - 1560 BC

Hantili I

Assassin and brother-in-law of Mursili I. Murdered.

c.1560 - 1550 BC

Zidanta I

Son-in-law of Hantili.

c.1550 - 1530 BC


Son of Hantili.

c.1530 - 1525 BC

Huzziya I


c.1525 - 1500 BC


Son of Zidanta I? Or brother-in-law of Ammuna.

Telipinu concludes a treaty with his south-eastern neighbour, the state of Kizzuwatna.


His reign is uncertain. Some place him after Hantili.

Tahurwaili agrees a parity treaty with Eheya of Kizzuwatna.

MapMiddle Hittite Empire
c.1500 - 1450 BC

Unable to consolidate their previous conquests, the Hittites now found themselves restrained by the successful Hurrian empire of Mitanni, and unable to gain direct access to Syria. Relations were initially good with the neighbouring kingdom of Kizzuwatna on their south-eastern border, but at some point after about 1470 BC the Kizzuwatnans were conquered by Mitanni, and the Hittites were even more cut off and unable to respond. While at this low point, Hittite record-keeping for this period was very sparse.

c.1500 - 1490 BC


Son-in-law of Huzziya I.

c.1490 - 1480 BC

Hantili II


c.1490 BC

Hantili renews the treaty of friendship with his south-eastern neighbour, Kizzuwatna, and its king, Paddatisu.

Hittite Lion Gates
The Lion Gates of the Hittite capital were of a style popular throughout the ancient Middle East, with an example being found in Mycenae and a later version existing in Jerusalem

c.1480 - 1470 BC

Zidanta II


c.1480 - 1475 BC

Although relations with Kizzuwatna are initially rocky, with both kingdoms grabbing territory from each other, Zidanta agrees a new parity treaty with King Pilliya.

c.1470 - 1460 BC

Huzziya II

c.1470 BC

Subject to frequent raids from Alakhtum, the faction-torn Hittites are unable to respond. Huzziya is killed by Muwatalli, perhaps the first break with the ancient royal bloodline. Around the same time, neighbouring Kizzuwatna is conquered by Mitanni. With Ishuwa also independent of Hittite control (and now a vassal of Mitanni), the Hittites are contained in central Anatolia except for the south-eastern Taurus passes into Syria.

c.1460 - 1450 BC

Muwatalli I

His reign is uncertain. Most lists place Tudhaliya at 1460 BC.

c.1450 BC

Muwattalli is killed in a palace coup by Himuili, the Chief of the Palace Servants, and Kantuzili, the Overseer of the Gold Chariot Fighters. A succession struggle follows which is scarcely documented at all. Muwa, Chief of the Royal Bodyguard and probably the brother of the dead king, flees to Mitanni and solicits their help. On the other side of the struggle, Kantuzzili joins forces with a man named Tudhaliya. The two factions meet in battle, and Tudhaliya and Kantuzzili emerge victorious. Of the conspirators, it is Tudhaliya who becomes Great King.

MapNew Hittite Empire
c.1450 - 1200 BC

The previous century had been one of domination by the Hurrian empire of Mitanni. Now a resurgent Hittite empire began to change the balance of power, with the Assyrians further east doing the same. At the same time, non-Indo-European barbarians such as the Kaskans began to strengthen in northern Anatolia, and Ahhiyawa was first mentioned on the Anatolian coast of the Aegean.

Geographically, the state's borders shifted constantly. The capital city was in central Anatolia in the basin of the River Kizil Irmak, and military expansion efforts focussed mainly on the south in Syria. It is unclear precisely where the northern and western borders lay, but the Kaskans in the north were at times clients of the Hittites, although barely manageable ones. As the state's organisation was not by direct territorial control but by domination over vassals, the borders were determined by the level of control which could be exercised over those vassals. The southern region of Tarhuntassa in particular began to exercise more independence as central power declined towards the end of the empire, and on the south-western Mediterranean shore, the Lukka were never entirely tamed.

(Three different dating theories are available for the New Hittites. The one used here matches most closely with the 'middle list', the others adding ten or twenty years onto these dates, or taking twenty years away from them, although gaps are plugged from other sources. The uncertainties surrounding Hittite dating are still very great, so no one list can be said to be definitive.)

(Additional information from The Arzawa Letters in Recent Perspective, J David Hawkins (British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 14 (73-83, 2009)).)

c.1450 - 1420 BC

Tudhaliya II (I)

Son of Huzziya II? Shown as Tudhaliya I in some lists.

fl 1430s BC

Mattiwaza / Madduwattas

King of Alashiya. Hittite-backed contestant for Arzawa.

c.1430 BC

Tudhaliya begins a restoration of Hittite power, conducting his third campaign against the Kaskans in the north. Arzawa concludes a treaty with Tudhaliya, but when Ahhiyawa conquers Madduwattas' kingdom of Alashiya, Tudhaliya installs the latter in the mountain country of Zippasla and supports his attempts to capture the Arzawan throne. This installation would seem to be more of a re-installation, as Madduwattas has already fought several battles against the Arzawan king.

Map of Ancient Anatolia c.1450 BC
The state of Arzawa existed from at least 1650 BC. By around 1450 BC it controlled the solid green section of the map, which included the state of Tarhuntassa, but probably not the 'Lower Land' (click on map to view full sized)

Ishuwa is defeated by the Hittite king, and then sides with Mitanni. Tudhaliya is unable to take Ishuwa, revealing the limits of Hittite power in this period, so he successfully attacks Kizzuwatna, a Mitanni possession, instead. However, he orders Madduwattas to put down a revolt in Happalla, he does so, but then forces Happalla to switch its loyalty to him. Then he bullies Pitassa into his kingdom, which brings Arzawa's borders even closer to the Hittite heartland.

c.1420 - 1400 BC

Arnuwanda I


c.1400 BC

Kizzuwatna falls to the Hittites when Arnuwanda's army overruns it. On the western border, Arnuwanda continues the support of Madduwattas, aiding him in eventually winning the throne of Arzawa. Madduwattas then expands his state right up to the Hittite borders. However, Arnuwanda has serious problems with the Kaskans, with many northern territories falling into their hands, including the cult centre of Nerik.

c.1400 - 1380 BC

Tudhaliya III (II)

Son. Not in all lists and his rule is uncertain.

c.1392 BC

The Hittites wrest control of the Assyrians from Mitanni, possibly annexing the territory to Kizzuwatna.

c.1400 - 1380 BC

Hattusili II

Precise position in the list is uncertain.

c.1380 - 1370 BC

Tudhaliya IV (III)

Son of Tudhaliya III.

c.1375 BC

The Kaskans suffer the loss of their grain to locusts so, in search of food, they join up with Hayasa-Azzi, Ishuwa, and the Lukka, as well as other Hittite enemies. The devastation to the grain crops may also have been suffered by others, making it not only easy to get them all to unite but highly necessary, and the Hittites may be taken by surprise by the sheer forcefulness of the attack. Recent Hittite resurgence suffers a knock when their fort of Masat is burned down, but then the capital, Hattusa, is itself attacked and burned (although the event is shrouded in mystery). Possibly the secondary capital at Sapinuwa is also attacked and burned.

The Kaskans make Nenassa their frontier, while Hayasa-Azzi seizes the Hittite city of Samuha. Despite being an able and active ruler before illness keeps him off the battlefield, events are clearly against Tudhaliya. The Hittite state loses its international standing, and loses most of its possessions near and far as well, to the extent that the Egyptians wonder if the state has fallen entirely. However, while this disaster personally weakens the position of the Hittite king, it seemingly does little to set back the Hittites themselves.

c.1370 - 1336 BC

Suppiluliuma I

Took the throne in coup. Son of Tudhaliya III. Died of plague.

Upon seizing the throne, Suppiluliuma pushes back an invasion by the Kaskan barbarians and invades Hayasa-Azzi. Then he inflicts a shock defeat on the Hurrian empire of Mitanni (working with his son, Piyashshili), initiating that powerful state's decline and effectively creating the Hittite New Empire. Piyashshili is given the territory of Ashtata to rule from Carchemish. However, Suppiluliuma is not entirely successful at first in pushing back Arzawa, which is very powerful at this stage.

During his reign, the Hittites also solidify their control over the south and east of Anatolia (including in Tarhuntassa and Ishuwa), play politics in Arzawa, gain Mitanni territory in northern Syria, and suppress a rebellion in Kizzuwatna. The city state of Alalakh is drawn directly under Hittite rule, removing the local rulers, while Amurru, Emar, Qadesh, and Ugarit become vassals, Carchemish and Alep are ruled by sons of Suppiluliuma, and Hittite control extends as far south as Damas, while Wilusa remains an ally.

c.1339 BC

The Syrian Mitanni territory falls completely under Hittite overlordship, to all intents and proposes ending Hurrian culture. At the same time the Assyrians regain their independence. The subject state of Amurru switches allegiance to the Hittites.

c.1336 - 1333 BC

Arnuwanda II

Son of Suppiluliuma. Incapacitated by plague.

c.1333 - 1308 BC

Mursili II

Brother. May have initially shared power with Arnuwanda.

c.1326 - 1321 BC

Devoting attention to the areas of Anatolia which had been ignored by his father, Mursili defeats Arzawa around 1325 BC, with the result that it disappears as a cohesive state (this event has also been dated to c.1306-1305 BC). The Hittites with their greatly expanded Anatolian territory now border Ahhiyawa in the west. Mursili also attacks the Kaskans to the north, but in the seventh year of his reign, Hayasa-Azzi raids the land of Dankuwa on the Hittite border, capturing the area's population and beginning four years of warfare. The Hittite general, Nuwanza (Nuvanza), resoundingly defeats them in the Upper Land before a campaign finally subdues the Hayasians.

Treaty of Mursili II
The treaty agreed between Mursili II and Talmi-sharruma of Aleppo to regulate future relations between the two states - most of the document survived three millennia of abandonment before being rediscovered by archaeologists

c.1308 - 1282 BC

Muwatalli II

Son of Mursili II.

c.1300 BC

The now-independent Assyrians begin to take control of Mitanni, while Muwatalli moves his capital to the previously obscure city of Tarhuntassa in southern Anatolia (possibly due to the Kaskan sacking of Hattusa). He leaves his brother, the future Hattusili III in charge of the northern areas, from where he re-conquers Hattusa and the cult centre of Nerik, allowing the capital to be returned to the north. Muwatalli is also in contact with his ally, Alexandros of Wilusa, regarding the remaining Arzawan client states.

1286 BC

The battle of Kadesh/Qadesh (the earliest surviving report of a major engagement) sees the forces of Egypt, under Ramses II, and the Hittites together with their various allies, including troops from Arzawa and the Lukka, clash for control of former Mitanni Syria. The battle ends with no clear outcome, although the Hittites come out on top, gaining uncontested control of Syria, and also raiding further south into Canaan. Kadesh is given over to the Hittite subject state of Ashtata. The victory, though, seems to spark the beginnings of a civil war in the Hittite nobility which lasts for about three generations.

c.1280 BC

Muwatalli concludes a treaty with his ally, Alexandros/Aleksandu of Wilusa, regarding the remaining Arzawan client states.

c.1282 - 1275 BC

Mursili III (Urhi-Teshub)

Son by a concubine. Deposed by his uncle.

c.1282 - 1275 BC

In the north, Hattusili uses his powerbase to undermine Mursili III, eventually deposing him, seemingly with the help of the deposed Benteshina of Amurru. This is unheard of, and it shatters the bond of trust between kings and nobility - the kingship is no longer sacred and untouchable. Mursili makes his powerbase in Arzawa, where he is supported by the populace. Hattusili makes Mursili's son, Karunta, 'king of Tarhuntassa' in the south, while exiling Mursili himself to an outlying part of the state.

c.1275 - 1250 BC

Hattusili III

Brother of Muwatalli II.

Hattusili's queen, Pudu-Hepa, formerly a priestess from Kizzuwatna, aids the integration of the Kizzuwatnan pantheon into the Hittite one, with the goddess Hebat becoming very important. To the west, Ahhiyawa first becomes a major regional power at this time, and the Hittite ally in Wilusa is overthrown.

1258 BC

Egypt and the Hittites (under Hattusili) agree the earliest known peace treaty, allowing them to peacefully share Syria (including what is now Lebanon) and lasting for forty years. From Hattusili's point of view, the agreement might be important in legitimising his rule, as well as guaranteeing a level of security against the threat of Assyrian aggression, now that they have conquered much of eastern Mitanni.

Cubic stone at Hattusa
The green cubic stone at Hattusa was probably a gift to the Hittite rulers of the city from the Egyptian pharaoh with whom they signed a peace treaty in 1258 BC

c.1250 - 1241 BC

Tudhaliya V (IV)

Son of Hattusili III. Deposed?

c.1241 - 1240 BC


Son of Muwatalli / cousin of Tudhaliya V.

Karuta, king of Tarhuntassa, may temporarily depose his cousin, as he appears as 'Great King' on seals found at Hattusa. Tudhaliya regains the throne, but Assyria attacks the state from the east, and vassals in the west and south-west of Anatolia rebel. Trouble in the regions adjoining the Aegean may be inspired by an elusive 'king of Ahhiyawa', situated between the coast and the former state of Arzawa. He is a major player, but hard to pinpoint in any detail, and Tudhaliya is unable to suppress him, despite taking Milawata (classical Miletus).

c.1241 - 1220 BC

Tudhaliya V (IV)

Restored? Confirmed Karunta's rule in Tarhuntassa.

c.1230 BC

Amurru concludes a treaty with the Hittite king, preventing seaborne trade between Assyria and Ahhiyawa.

c.1220 - 1215 BC

Arnuwanda III

Son of Tudhaliya V.

c.1215 - 1200 BC

Suppiluliuma II

Son of Tudhaliya V.

Tarhuntassa attacks the Hittite state, but no further details are known. Suppiluliuma II is occupied with engaging Alashiya in sea battles as he attempts to invade the Cypriot kingdom.

c.1200 BC

Decaying from late in the thirteenth century BC, as Assyria rises and instability grips the Mediterranean coast, the Hittite empire is looted and destroyed by various surrounding peoples, including the Kaskans and the Sea Peoples (and perhaps even selectively by its own populace). Some important Hittite cities and states, such as Tarhuntassa and Ugarit, disappear, but others, such as Carchemish, survive. Hittite elements, now homeless, appear to join the Sea Peoples in subsequent raids on Egypt.

Small Hittite (or 'neo-Hittite') states form out of some territories: in western Anatolia, Maeonia emerges as an independent kingdom; in the south-west, Lycia; in south-central and eastern Anatolia, Kummuhu, and Tabal; while north-east of Maeonia, an Indo-European people who are allied to the Kaskans form the kingdom of Phrygia; the Sea Peoples ravage eastern Anatolia and Syria (and some scholars associate them with Tabal). The Philistines, more displaced settlers, arrive on the coast of Canaan. Further neo-Hittite states continue to survive in Northern Syria, and some are mentioned in the Bible. This is also the generally accepted period in which the Israelites begin creating a kingdom.