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Near East Kingdoms

Ancient Anatolia

 

Old Hittite Empire (Bronze Age) (Anatolia)
c.1740 - 1500 BC

Following their initial defeat of the Hatti, and a century of obscurity as they settled into their new role as masters of eastern Anatolia, the Hittites bounced back to quickly centralise power and create a state of their own. They were culturally influenced by the Hurrians on their south-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.

Both groups were of Indo-European descent, but from groups which had been divided from one another for over two thousand years, leaving plenty of time for separate lines of development and new ideas to be adopted.

In the second half of the seventeenth century BC, Hattusili I founded a new capital at Hattousha (Hattusa - modern Boğazkale in Turkey), which would remain the centre of this Near Eastern 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.

Three different dating theories are available for the Hittites. The one used here matches most closely with the 'middle list', the others adding ten or twenty years onto these dates or taking roughly twenty years away from them. One or two gaps here are plugged from other sources. The uncertainties surrounding Hittite dating are still very great, so no one list can be said to be definitive. Despite their establishment of one of the great late second millennium BC empires, the surviving written record for the Hittites could do with a great deal of expansion.

All names can also be spelled to end with an 's' which would usually be pronounced with an 'sh' sound. Following the collapse of the earlier Hittite kingdom of Kussara, little is known about them until Hattusili I created the Old Hittite empire.

Central Anatolian mountains

(Information by Peter Kessler, with 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), from Hittite Diplomatic Texts, Gary Beckman (Second Ed, Scholars Press, Atlanta, 1999), from The Kingdom of the Hittites, Trevor Bryce (1998), from The Hittites, O R Gurney (1991), from The Hittites, J G Macqueen (1996), from Hittite Prayers, Itamar Singer (Scholars Press, Atlanta, 2002), and from External Links: A Brief History of Hattusha/Boğazköy (Archive.today), and Who were the Kaška?, Itamar Singer (The Argonautica and World Culture II, Phasis: Greek and Roman Studies, Vol 10 (II), Rismag Gordeziani (Editor-in-chief, Tbilisi, 2007, available as a PDF - click or tap on link to download or access it).)

c.1740 - 1710 BC

Tudhaliya I?

King of Kussara, capital of the early Hittite state.

While not very powerful at this stage, the Hittites appear to make a tentative step towards expansion by establishing a colony at Yadiya, not too far to the south of Kanesh, in the northernmost reaches of Syria. This may be their very first outward expansion in this direction, and the colony is maintained by them until the final fall of the Hittites.

Map of Anatolia and Environs 2000 BC
This was the situation in Anatolia which was inherited by the Hittites as they formed their early empire in the eighteenth century BC (click or tap on map to view full sized)

c.1710 - 1680 BC

Pusarruma?

Son. 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. It is soon after this, during the reigns of Labarna (whether I or II is unclear) and Hattusili, that the Kaskans appear in the historical record - but only in thirteenth century Hittite records which recount events which may have been stretched backwards in time further than should be the case.

These records can be attributed to Muwatalli II, stating that 'Labarna and Hattušili did not let them over the River Kumešmaha'. It is more likely that the Kaskans do not appear until the middle of the 1500s BC.

Black Sea south coast
Zalpa was probably located on the southern Black Sea coast, presumably within easy reach of its neighbouring cities of Kanesh, Kussara, Hattusa, Purushanda, and Zalwar, plus others

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 (notably at Purushanda), 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, while apparent early dominance over Kizzuwatna may also date from this period.

Hittite old city
The Hittite 'Old City' (which was probably based on the original construction of the preceding 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', with the later extended city lying on the slope below, to the north-west, and reaching towards the valley below

c.1620 - 1590 BC

Mursili I

Grandson/adopted son. Murdered.

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 seizes the throne.

c.1590 - 1560 BC

Hantili I

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

c.1560 BC

Having seized the throne through murder, Hantili reigns for around thirty years. Hittite power may have been damaged by this act though, or is in decline despite it.

Thirteenth century Hittite records which can be attributed to Muwatalli II show that the state loses territory in the north to the Kaskans: 'The town of Tiliura was empty from the days of Hantili [presumed to be Hantili I] and my father Muršili [II] resettled it.

Queen Pudu-Hepa of Kizzuwatna
Puda-Hepa, Hattusili III's queen (on the right), proved highly influential in bringing Kizzuwatnan culture into the Hittite court in the thirteenth century BC - only for everything the two of them held dear to be swept away within two generations of their reign

'And from there they [the Kaskans] began to commit hostilities and Hantili built an outpost against them... The [important religious] city of Nerik... was in ruins from the days of Hantili', ruined by the Kaskans.

Hantili's efforts against the Kaskans may not be successful as he is murdered towards the end of his long reign. 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.1560 - 1550 BC

Zidanta I

Son-in-law of Hantili.

c.1550 - 1530 BC

Ammuna

Son of Hantili. Lost Kizzuwatna to a revolt?

c.1530 - 1525 BC

Huzziya I

Son?

c.1525 - 1500 BC

Telipinu

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

Telipinu concludes a treaty with his south-eastern neighbour, the state of Kizzuwatna. The king's daughter is Harapšeki, who at some point is married to Alluwamna, the first Hittite ruler of the 'Middle Empire' period. However, the pair are banished to Malitashkur, so it is entirely possible that Alluwamna does not immediately succeed his father-in-law.

Yilanlikale Castle
Yilanlikale, more colourfully known as Snake Castle, is east of Misis, on the steep southern bank of the Ceyha, and is home to this Armenian stronghold and Crusader castle, but the terrain offered similar defensive qualities to the Kizzuwatnans

Tahurwaili

First cousin. Reign uncertain. Some place him after Hantili II.

Tahurwaili agrees a parity treaty with Eheya of Kizzuwatna but the event cannot be dated with any precision. Tahurwaili may be a usurper around the time of Telipinu, or even a regent of some kind, although the treaty does seem to specify him being the Hittite ruler rather than holding power for someone else.

Some scholars place him later, between Alluwamna and Hantili II of the 'Middle Empire' period. Placing him this late does seem less realistic though.

 
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