The Hittites Of Anatolia -- By: Ewa Wasilewska

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 08:1 (Winter 1995)
Article: The Hittites Of Anatolia
Author: Ewa Wasilewska

The Hittites Of Anatolia

Ewa Wasilewska

Illustrations by Michael Grimsdale

Anthropologist and archaeologist Ewa Wasilewska earned an M.A. from Warsaw University and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah, where she is a professor of anthropology.

Turkey’s soil is rich in ruins: Ottoman, Seljuk, Byzantine, Greek. But far older than any of those cultures—and forgotten almost entirely for 3000 years—are the remains of the first Indo-European power in the Mediterranean area: the Hittites.

Their arrival in Anatolia—the Asian part of Turkey, known also as Asia Minor—some 4000 years ago changed the political map of the Middle East, at that time dominated by the civilizations born in the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Although the Hittites ruled in Anatolia and beyond for almost 1000 years thereafter, they then vanished from human memory, to be rediscovered only at the beginning of the 20th century. Only the Bible carried some short references to the Hittites, presenting them as one of the tribes of Palestine in the second millennium BC. It was a “son of Heth”—a Hittite—who sold the Prophet Abraham the land to bury his beloved wife Sarah.

Tablets of Hittite-Luvian hieroglyphics, such as this one from Hama, Syria, remained indecipherable for nearly a century after their discovery.

The longevity of Hittite cultural traditions is demonstrated by a relief from Malatya, Turkey, carved in the ninth century BC, more than 300 years after the Hittite Empire was destroyed. It depicts the weather god accepting offerings from a local ruler.

Discovery of the Hittites

Who were the Hittites? Their discovery is still one of the most fascinating stories of the early archaeological and philological explorations of the Middle East. The ruins of their once monumental palaces and temples, their rock-reliefs in the middle of the wilderness of the Anatolian steppes, and their stone inscriptions in the least expected places were known by local people but over-looked, or ignored, by Europeans.

In 1812, for example, a Hittite hieroglyphic inscription was discovered carved on a stone built into the corner of a house in Hama, in modern Syria, by the Swiss traveler Johann Ludwig Burckhard. But this find—like others in the area—was ignored until it was rediscovered in the 1870’s by William Wright.

Wright, a very curious Irishman, tried to get official permission to copy some inscriptions that he had seen at Hama and...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()