Hittite Empire

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Related to Hittite Empire: Babylonian Empire, Assyrian Empire
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hittite Empire


an ancient state in Asia Minor that flourished from the 18th to the early 12th century B.C It was formed in the 20th or 19th century B.C. from a number of political unions, such as Kanesh, Hattusas, and Puruskhanda, which included several ethnic groups, such as the Hittites and the Hatti (or Khatti). Under Anittas, ruler of Kussara (c. 18th century B.C.), unification was begun of certain regions in Anatolia, which before that had been centers of old Assyrian trade colonies. Anittas conquered the cities of Nesa and Hattusas and made Kussara the capital. Labarnas, founder of the Old Hittite dynasty (early 17th century B.C), expanded the boundaries of the Hittite empire. His successor, Hattusilis I, completed the conquest of Zalpa and a number of southeastern areas of Asia Minor. He also transferred the capital back to Hattusas. Under his son Mursilis I (late 17th century B.C), the military power of the Hittite empire reached its zenith. The 100 years following Mursilis’ reign were filled with internecine strife and palace revolts.

At the time of the codification of the Hittite laws (c. 16th century B.C), the Hittite empire consisted of three main parts: the central region, the home of the Hittites and seat of the capital Hattusas; Luwia, located in southwestern Asia Minor; and Pala, located in northeastern Asia Minor. In the 15th and early 14th centuries B.C, the role of the southern region, with its Luwian and Hurrian populations, increased significantly. The Hittite kings of the 14th to early 12th centuries B.C., the period of the New Kingdom, were Hurrians. After a lengthy war, King Suppi-luliumas I (early 14th century B.C.) destroyed Mitanni and subjugated Ugarit. In the period from the reign of Mursilis II (late 14th century B.C.) to the reign of Hattusilis III (late 13th century B.C.), the Hittite empire and Egypt, the two most powerful states in the Near East, waged a struggle for supremacy in Syria. In the late 13th and early 12th centuries B.C., a coalition of states, including Ahhiyawa and Arzawa, conducted a campaign against the Hittite empire. Internecine strife, the defection of a number of vassals and allied princelings from the main Hittite centers, and the arrival of the Peoples of the Sea in eastern Asia Minor led to the fall of the Hittite empire.

During the period of its greatest territorial expansion, beginning in the 14th century B.C, the central part of the Hittite empire was surrounded by a chain of allied and vassal states, which formed a buffer zone between the Hittites and their powerful enemies, such as Egypt. From the similarities in the texts of government treaties and royal instructions to civil servants it is conjectured that civil servants were a special type of vassal of the Hittite king. The hierarchical organization of the entire state, in which individual regions were governed by vicegerents appointed by the king, was based on the system of allotments (grants) existing within Hittite society, under which those who received land allotments were required to fulfill suitable economic or military obligations. Slaves constituted a relatively small percentage of the population. Between the slaves and free Hittites there was an intermediate social class, consisting of prisoners of war, who were given special land grants. The existence of this class, as well as of special forms of dependence similar to vassalages, distinguished Hittite society from other ancient slaveholding-type societies of the East. By the 14th century B.C the power of the king had become absolute, the king having acquired the characteristics of a deified Oriental despot.


Menabde, E. A. Khettskoe obshchestvo. Tbilisi, 1965.
Giorgadze, G. G. Ocherki po sotsial’no-ekonomicheskoi istorii Khettskogo gosudarstva. Tbilisi, 1973.
Zamarovský, V. Tainy khettov. Moscow, 1968. (References.) (Translated from Slovak.)
Neuere Hethitenforschung. Edited by G. Walser, Wiesbaden, 1964.
Götze, A. Kleinasien, 2nd ed. Munich, 1957.
Friedrich, J. Die hethitischen Gesetze. Leiden, 1959.
Gurney, O. R. The Hittites, 2nd ed. London, 1961.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
These events redrew the eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern world's political map: the territories controlled by Babylon and Assyria shrunk to their cores; Egypt lost its empire and crumbled into political disunity; Greece entered a dark age; meanwhile, the Hittite empire, stretching from western Anatolia into Syria, completely collapsed, leaving a void.
At the site of Alalakh, located in the Amuq river valley in Turkey and part of the Hittite empire during the Late Bronze Age, birds are more frequently used in funerary rituals.
When the expansionist Hittite empire took over the buffer state, it came face-to-face with the Egyptian zone of influence with their border placed somewhere north of Tripoli (now in Lebanon) and going east through the town of Kadesh on the River Ontoroe south of Homs.
A direct line can be traced between our institutions through the Roman Republic back to the Hittite Empire. The Hittites influenced Sama'al, which influenced and was influenced by Phoenicia, which led to the rise of the republic of Carthage, which influenced the development of the classic Roman Republic.
Her introduction discusses the discovery of the Luwian inscriptions, the historical background of the Hittite Empire 1680-1200 and successor states, biblical Hittites, the hieroglyphic script, hieroglyphic scholarship, texts, and kingship.
Some 3,500 years ago, the magnificent city of Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire, was one of the Bronze Age's largest settlements.
WHILE Howard Carter was still to discover the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt, a Liverpool archaeologist had already made exciting finds connected to the lost world of the Hittite Empire.
Most of it has remained in storage until the new show, entitled The Lost World of the Hittite Empire, opens to the public from tomorrow at the Victoria Gallery and Museum, Brownlow Hill.
The sphinx, dug up from the ancient city of Hattusha, the capital of the Hittite empire, in the early 20th century, was taken to Germany for restoration but now sits in a Berlin museum, much to Turkey's annoyance.
But one might as well worry today about the disappearance of Pharaonic Egypt, of the Mayas of Central America, or the Hittite empire. Even in China, the loss and destruction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that Richardson laments has already been succeeded by growing wealth and what is a new dynasty in all but name.
It is also close to the site of the historic capital of the Hittite Empire, Hattusa.
In its heyday, the Hittite empire was one of the great powers of the ancient world, and it valued the ring of allies with which it surrounded itself.