Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Hittites of Anatolia

The German archaeologist Hugo Winckler was the first to conduct excavations at Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite empire. Thousands of clay tablets from Hattusa’s palace and temple were found, representing eight languages. All the tablets were inscribed in the cuneiform script developed in Mesopotamia around 3000 B.C. Many were written in Akkadian, a Semitic language of international affairs during the Late Bronze Age. Many of the tablets are diplomatic in nature, containing correspondence between Hittite kings and their vassal states.

More than 232 letters of state correspondence have been found at Hattusa. One is a letter from the ruler of Išuwa to the "Chief of the Charioteers." The administrative center of Hattusa had many scribes who were schooled in Akkadian (the script of Nimrod's kingdom).

Recent research connects the Luwian hieroglyphs and the Hittite hieroglyphs. The Luwian writing system is known from quotations in Hittite documents and from ancient scripts found in Crete and Cyprus. Luwian scripts took two forms: (1) Akkadian cuneiform, as with the Hittite scripts found at Hattusa, and (2) Egyptian hieroglyphic.

The Luwian inscriptions from the Yazilikaya site in Turkey are connected to the Hittite religion. Common symbolism involving the Sun, bull horns, stone altars, and fortified temples with pillars, suggest that the religion was related to that of the Hurrians or Horite Hebrew.

This green stone found at Hattusa is believed to be a gift from the Egyptian king with whom the Hatti signed a treaty in BC 1258, was at the center of a Horite shrine. Among the ancient Nilotes green malachite symbolised the hope of resurrection. The land of the blessed dead was described as the "field of malachite." Green stones were associated with Horus, whose animal totem was the falcon. The Book of the Dead speaks of how the deceased will become a falcon "whose wings are of green stone" (chapter 77). The Eye of Horus amulet was made of green stone.

Solar images abound in Hittite culture, and the king was referred to as "My Sun". Solar images are found in the royal tombs or on the standards of rulers. One example is the long horns of bulls and deer, such as appear on this bronze standard found at Horoztepe.

The March/April 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review shows a statue found at the principal temple in Hattusa. The mother of the king wears the solar crown as a sign of divine appointment. This is a Hittite version of the Nilotic images of "overshadowed" Hathor holding Horus on her lap.

A deep history

In southern Anatolia royal stone masons built Catalhoyuk beginning in 7500 BC. (The Turkish words catal means fork and hoyuk means mound.) This was a settlement built on two mounds (east and west) and a channel of the Çarşamba River once flowed between them. The houses excavated in Catalhoyuk date between 6800-5700 B.C. Recent excavations have identified a shrine or small temple on the eastern side. At Horoztepe, in northern Anatolia, they built royal tombs dating from 2400–2200 BC. These are richly furnished with finely crafted artifacts in bronze, gold, and silver.

The kingdom of Hatti was the most powerful Near Eastern kingdom in the late 14th and 13th centuries B.C. The kings of Egypt, Babylon, and Assyria were received in Hattusa's reception hall located in the royal citadel, known as Büyükkale, or “Big Castle”. Vassal rulers came to Hattusa to reaffirm their loyalty and pay tribute to the Hittite king.

In the early second millennium B.C. Hattusa (modern Boğazkale in Turkey) was the seat of a central Anatolian kingdom. In the 18th century B.C., a king named Anitta destroyed the settlement. One of the first Hittite kings, Hattusili I (c. 1650–1620 B.C.), rebuilt the city and the royal complex on a rock outcrop overlooking the lower city. Excavations reveal the features typical of ancient high places.

1.5-inch-high, 15th-century B.C. gold pendant found at Hattusa

The Hittites were known for high quality metal work, especially silver work. The Ugaritic word for silver - ḥtt - appears in the name of the people and Hittite place names. Ḥatti and Ḥattuša are examples. Hittites scribes often used the word sign for silver in their names.


The Hittite rulers and priests appear to be kin to the Horite Hebrew ruler-priests. These peoples have some common ancestors. That is why Abraham was recognized as a "great prince among us" by the Hittites in Machpelah (Gen. 23:6). The Hittites are designated the "sons" of Heth/Het (Gen. 23:2-11) and one of the clans of Canaan (Gen. 10:15).

The Hittite rulers appear to have been in Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b1a (P297) which predominates in biblical populations associated with the Caucasus, Anatolia, and northern Mesopotamia. R1b1b (M335) has been found primarily in Anatolia and may be the genetic marker of the Saka (Sacae/Saxon). The Hindu text Matsya Purana claims that the Saka (called “Scythians” by the Greeks) ruled the ancient world for 7000 years. Another text, Mahabharata, designates “Sakadvipa” as the “land of the Sakas” in northern India. Assyrian documents speak of the Saka presence between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the time of Sargon (722-705 B.C.)

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