|Empire of the Hittites|
Battling the Hurrians
and Middle Egypt
Bronze Age Superpowers
This is highly detailed article of the Hittites (or Hatti) specifically taken from a sociological perspective, as the true joy of reading about the Hittites comes from discovering their culture and the several cultures they interacted with. Featured in this article is an extensive history of Middle Egypt, Hittites from beginning to end, and Hurrians, all of whom are legendary cultures during the late Bronze Age. See them as they all interacted with the Hittites for centuries or longer, both in peace and in battle!
IN THE BEGINNING: The Hittites were a nomadic culture of Indo-Europeans who wandered (more like blundered) into ancient Mesopotamia around 1795 B.C. These people were essentially just a run-of-the-mill hunter-trader type of civilization. They mostly hunted, drank fish and traded some as they moved from place to place. It was around this time, however, that the nomadic way of life was truly at an end. Civilizations like ancient Sumer had gradually perfected a sedentary way of life outside of the Fertile Crescent long ago (some say as early as 3800 B.C. but most likely was around 2900 B.C.). Although it was difficult to survive in a sedentary lifestyle with primitive agriculture, people realized its advantages and kept working at it. The Hittites, however, were behind the times, so to speak, and were one of those cultures who saw the benefits of creating a village, but their story is unique in that they simply could not find a place to settle into. Their story is one of searching, struggle and irony.
|And to think it's only 120 degrees there! Let's go streaking!|
|Hurrians had a "moving" capitol because they chose to remain |
partly nomadic but realized the benefits of settlements. However, they
only roamed a certain distance and then circled back around
|Hattusas, the Hittite's first home, in Turkey|
|This looks like a big territory, but it's covered in |
dry soil and steep hills
The Hittites knew they were tricked and they pushed most everyone out of the better areas of Sumer, such as the capitol Akkad (Babylon), but they left shortly thereafter. This empty city allowed the Kassites to simply walk in and take these small places for their own after the Hittites left (Kassites are pre-Bedouins, some Kassites left later and called themselves the Bedouin/Amorites). The Hittites went back to Hattusas and decided never to make the mistake of ever leaving again, or hoping for a better life. This time, however, they did not leave for a long time. It wouldn't be until In the 14th century BC that the Hittite Kingdom would prosper as they had originally wished it to. Their future kingdom would span from Asia Minor (Turkey) to Sumer, which was very far away. Not only that, but they also took control of Syria all the way south to Ugarit. How did their luck suddenly change?
DEATH OF THE HURRIANS AND RISE OF THE HITTITES: The Hurrians are thought to have been slowly vanquished by other clashing peoples over a period of time. This slow-but-steady destruction is still thought to have been primarily carried out by the Assyrians located far north of the Sumerian cities. Assyrians are one of those cultures that seems to have been/incorporated many cultures. They simply went everywhere from Assyria to Babylon all the way to parts of the Jewish cultures and Egypt between the 9th through 5th centuries B.C.. It wouldn't be until later that the Assyrians would become the nefarious monsters that history knows them to be.
|8 foot spear + stomach |
The Hittites saw fit to preserve the Hurrians as military support because the of Assyrians ruled under King Ashur-uballit I around 1365 B.C. were encroaching on Hittite territory. As luck usually worked out for the Hittites, Ashur-uballit I attacked and managed to defeat Hurrian King Mattiwaza despite the attempts of Hittite king Suppiluliuma I to preserve the Hurrians as a buffer. The lands of the Mitanni and Hurrians were appropriated by Assyria, enabling it to encroach on Hittite territory near Asia Minor. Not far along the timeline, Assyrian king Adad-nirari I annexed Carchemish from the control of the Hittites, however events seem to pause after this, as if the Assyrians took a break from wearing out the Hittites.
The Egyptians, at about 1450-1425 B.C., went on and completed its conquering spree of almost the entire coast north of Egypt up to lower Syria, however, the Hittites had already seized control of the Hurrian territory which ranged from Sumer to northern Syria up to Hattusas (Turkey). Both cultures realized that neither of them desired conflict. The Egyptians were glad that the Hurrians were gone and had the Hittites to thank. With both sides realizing that no one wanted to fight, they decided to make a non-aggression treaty. A treaty whose "signature" was the marriage of the Hittite ruler's son to the widow of Pharaoh Tutankhamun, where Pharaoh Tut was assassinated in a conspiracy that no historian knows enough about to truly know the story in full. Around 1350 B.C., Hittite King Suppiluliuma I's son was also assassinated to prevent this marriage with the widow of Pharaoh Tut. The politics are convoluted, but it gets even worse. The widow also had motives of her own. It is said that she received a mysterious letter telling her she can be free from Egypt and escape marriage to the Hittite prince if she just met some unknown people at a specific location. She left and was never heard from again. What historians are left with now is an assassinated Hittite prince and an abducted Egyptian princess....both sides naturally have no clue of what was really going on and simply blame each other.
EGYPT AND HITTITES GO TO WAR: If you can't guess what happens next then you're obviously not a history buff. The two cultures broke out in war, but not just any war though, as this was the biggest war of the entire Bronze Age by far. Most of the Bronze Age wars had a few hundred to a couple thousand or so men. That's not very large, but keep in mind it wasn't too long ago that civilization was invented. Civilization is still a novelty at this point. However, the Hittite-Egyptian war is said to have had well over 25,000 men on each side, totaling as much as or beyond 50,000 warriors. Keep in mind that cities in this age had only a couple thousand people, some super-cities of the Bronze Age may have had close to 10,000 people. Where did all of these people come from?! Women did not fight in these days and neither did youth. These armies probably consisted of just about every able-bodied man from across the entire continent. It is thought, however, that they mostly wanted to intimidate each other by a show of possible force. Intimidation was the name of this game, but it escalated into a full scale war shortly thereafter.
|The first drive by shooter...I'm serious|
BATTLE AT KADESH: After years and years of posturing and preparing, at about 1285 B.C. the famous Battle at Kadesh took place and it was truly a gruesome sight. There isn't a lot of information on the skirmishes and other battles, but this was the main event. The original King Suppiluliuma I and Egyptian King Rameses II had died year ago during all the preparing and posturing for war. In that time, a king for each of them came to power and passed on, and the war at Kadesh was fought by their grandchildren. They fought and killed and died by the thousands in fancy yet impractical chariots and on foot. It was a war more of "show" than of substance since both sides were too uncertain as to what they should do. None of them had ever really fought in a war. They butchered each other by the thousands until they realized they were both dying in droves equally. They drew up a peace treaty finally and....here's the irony....a prince on one side had to marry the princess on the other.... After all, that's how the entire mess began.
|I like my definition better|
The end of the Hittite story can be summarized by:
Irony: when you try to sign a treaty with another cultural power but instead go to war over a misunderstanding only to sign the treaty anyway but only after slaughtering thousands yet when you get what you want you lose it all.