The Hittites were an ancient Indo-European people, speaking a language of the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European language family. They were part of
a larger movement of Indo-Europeans in the 30th century BCE and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa on the Central Anatolian plateau ca. the
18th century BCE.
Although belonging to the Bronze Age, the Hittites were forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the
20th century BCE. Hittite weapons were made from bronze; iron was so rare and precious that it was employed only as prestige goods. The Hittites were
also famous for their skill in building and using chariots. These chariots gave them a military superiority as illustrated on a plate from
The Hittites used cuneiform letters. Archaeological expeditions have discovered entire sets of royal archives in cuneiform tablets, written either in
Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation.
The language of the Hattusa tablets was eventually deciphered by a Czech linguist, Bedřich Hrozný (1879-1952), who on 24 November, 1915 announced
his results in a lecture at the Near Eastern Society of Berlin. His book about his discovery was printed in Leipzig in 1917, under the title 'The
Language of the Hittites; Its Structure and Its Membership in the Indo-Germanic Linguistic Family'.
Under the direction of the German Archaeological Institute, excavations at Hattusa have been underway since 1907. Smaller scale excavations have also
been carried out in the immediate surroundings of Hattusa, including the rock sanctuary of Yazılıkaya, which contains numerous rock-cut reliefs
portraying the Hittite rulers and the gods of the Hittite pantheon.
Hittite religion and mythology was increasingly influenced by Mesopotamian mythology as history progressed. In earlier times, Indo-European elements
may still be clearly discerned, for example Tarhunt the god of thunder, and his conflict with the serpent Illuyanka, which mirrors a core IE myth also
expressed in the battle of Thor against Jörmungandr, the slaying of Fafnir by Sigurd, and Indra's killing of Vrtra in the Rigveda.
Inara is his daughter and the goddess of the wild animals of the steppe. She is involved with the Puruli spring festival. After the Storm-god's
initial defeat by Illuyanka, she follows his request to set up a feast. She recruits Hupasiayas of Zigaratta, to aid in revenge on Illuyanka, by
taking him as a lover. She then sets about luring Illuyanka and his children to the feast. After the dragon and his children gorge themselves on her
meal, Hupasiayas binds him with a rope. Then the Storm-god sets upon them and defeats them.
The Hittite military oath (CTH 427) is a text in Old Hittite and prescribes the oath to be taken by military commanders. More precisely, it describes
a series of symbolic actions intended to represent the afflictions that should befall the oath-takers should they break their word. On one occasion,
for example, women's clothing, a spindle and an arrow is brought before those swearing their allegiance. The arrow is broken, and they are told that
should they break their oath, their weapons should likewise be broken, and they should be made women and given women's tasks. Then, a blind and deaf
woman is brought before them, and they are told that if they break their word, they will be made blind and deaf women like this one. Then, a figurine
of a person suffering from ascites is brought before them, and they are told that should they break their word, their bellies should swell with water,
and the deities of the oath should eat their offspring (seed) within their bellies.
To these similes, those swearing agree, saying 'so be it.' Oath-taking as conditional self-cursing in the event of oath-breaking is typical for
other early Indo-European cultures.
The exact origins of the Hittites have been enshrouded in mystery for quite some time. It has been common to view the Hittites and their ways as
intrusive. Possible invasion routes from the west (Balkans) and north (across the Black sea) are just some of the proposed routes. The process has
been viewed as one of conquering elites, followed by gradual assimilation.
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