Hittite Sphinx

Hittite Sphinx

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The Rediscovery of the Hittites

Since the Bible and classical authors preserved the names and events of the ancient Near Eastern cultures, the Babylonians, Assyrians and Egyptians were never completely forgotten. Quite different was the situation with the Hittites: By the time of Herodotus, they had already been forgotten and their visible monuments were attributed to other civilizations.

Everything that we know today about the history and culture of the Hittites is due to the research of the last two centuries.

Hittite Sphinx - History

The meaning of Hittites in the Bible
(From International Standard Bible Encyclopedia )

hit'-its (bene cheth, chittim Chettaioi): One of the seven nations conquered by Israel in Palestine.


1. Enumeration of Races

2. Individuals

3. Later Mention


1. Sources

2. Chronology

3. Egyptian Invasions: XVIIIth Dynasty

4. "The Great King"

5. Egyptian Invasions: XIXth Dynasty

6. Declension of Power: Aryan Invasion

7. Second Aryan Invasion

8. Assyrian Invasions

9. Invasion by Assur-nasir-pal

10. Invasions by Shalmaneser II and Rimmonnirari III

11. Revolts and Invasions

12. Break-up of Hittite Power

13. Mongols in Syria


1. Mongol Race

2. Hittire and Egyptian Monuments

3. Hair and Beard

4. Hittite Dress

5. Hittite Names

6. Vocabulary of Pterium Epistles

7. Tell el-Amarna Tablet


1. Polytheism: Names of Deities

2. Religious Symbolism


1. Cuneiform and Hieroglyphic

2. Description of Signs

3. Interpretation of Monuments


I. Old Testament Notices.

1. Enumeration of Races:

The "sons of Heth" are noticed 12 times and the Hittites 48 times in the Old Testament. In 21 cases the name Occurs in the enumeration of races, in Syria and Canaan, which are said (Genesis 10:6 f.) to have been akin to the early inhabitants of Chaldea and Babylon. From at least 2000 BC this population is known, from monumental records, to have been partly Semitic and partly Mongolic and the same mixed race is represented by the Hittite records recently discovered in Cappadocia and Pontus. Thus, while the Canaanites ("lowlanders"), Amorites (probably "highlanders"), Hivites ("tribesmen") and Perizzites ("rustics") bear Semitic titles, the Hittites, Jebusites and Girgashites appear to have non-Sem names. Ezekiel (Ezekiel 16:3, Ezekiel 16:15) speaks of the Jebusites as a mixed Hittite-Amorite people.

2. Individuals:

The names of Hittites noticed in the Old Testament include several that are Semitic (Ahimelech, Judith, Bashemath, etc.), but others like Uriah and Beeri (Genesis 26:34) which are probably non-Sem. Uriah appears to have married a Hebrew wife (Bathsheba), and Esau in like manner married Hittite women (Genesis 26:34 Genesis 36:2). In the time of Abraham we read of Hittites as far South as Hebron (Genesis 23:3 ff. Genesis 27:46), but there is no historic improbability in this at a time when the same race appears (see ZOAN) to have ruled in the Nile Delta (but see Gray in The Expositor, May, 1898, 340 f.).

3. Later Mention:

In later times the "land of the Hittites" (Joshua 1:4 Judges 1:26) was in Syria and near the Euphrates (see TAHTIM-HODSHI) though Uriah (2Sa. 11) lived in Jerusalem, and Ahimelech (I Samuel 26:6) followed David. In the time of Solomon (I Kings 10:29), the "kings of the Hittites" are mentioned with the "kings of Syria," and were still powerful a century later (II Kings 7:6). Solomon himself married Hittite wives (I Kings 11:1), and a few Hittites seem still to have been left in the South (II Chronicles 8:7), even in his time, if not after the captivity (Ezra 9:1 Nehemiah 9:8).

II. History.

1. Sources:

The Hittites were known to the Assyrians as Chatti, and to the Egyptians as Kheta, and their history has been very fully recovered from the records of the XVIIIth and XIXth Egyptian Dynasties, from the Tell el-Amarna Letters, from Assyrian annals and, quite recently, from copies of letters addressed to Babylonian rulers by the Hittite kings, discovered by Dr. H. Winckler in the ruins of Boghaz-keui ("the town of the pass"), the ancient Pterium in Pontus, East of the river Halys. The earliest known notice (King, Egypt and West Asia, 250) is in the reign of Saamsu-ditana, the last king of the first Babylonian Dynasty, about 2000 BC , when the Hittites marched on the "land of Akkad," or "highlands" North of Mesopotamia.

2. Chronology:

The chronology of the Hittites has been made clear by the notices of contemporary rulers in Babylonia, Matiene, Syria and Egypt, found by Winckler in the Hittite correspondence above noticed, and is of great importance to Bible history, because, taken in conjunction with the Tell el-Amarna Letters, with the Kassite monuments of Nippur, with the Babylonian chronicles and contemporary chronicles of Babylon and Assyria, it serves to fix the dates of the Egyptian kings of the XVIIIth and XIXth Dynasties which were previously uncertain by nearly a century, but which may now be regarded as settled within a few years. From the Tell el-Amarna Letters it is known that Thothmes IV was contemporary with the father of Adad-nirari of Assyria (Berlin number 30), and Amenophis IV with Burna-burias of Babylon (Brit. Mss. number 2) while a letter from Chattu-sil, the Hittite contemporary of Rameses II, was addressed to Kadashman-Turgu of Babylon on the occasion of his accession. These notices serve to show that the approximate dates given by Brugsch for the Pharaohs are more correct than those proposed by Mahler and the following table will be useful for the understanding of the history&mdashThothmes III being known to have reigned 54 years, Amenophis III at least 36 years, and Rameses II, 66 years or more. The approximate dates appear to be thus fixed.

3. Egyptian Invasions: XVIIIth Dynasty:

The Hyksos race having been expelled from the Delta by Aahmes, the founder of the XVIIIth (Theban) Dynasty, after 1700 BC , the great trade route through Palestine Syria was later conquered by Thothmes I, who set up a monument on the West bank of the Euphrates. The conquests of Aahmes were maintained by his successors Amenophis I and Thothmes I and II but when Thothmes III attained his majority (about 1580 BC ), a great league of Syrian tribes and of Canaanites, from Sharuhen near Gaza and "from the water of Egypt, as far as the land of Naharain" (Aram-naharaim), opposed this Pharaoh in his 22nd year, being led by the king of Kadesh&mdashprobably Kadesh on the Orontes (now Qedes, North of Riblah)&mdashbut they were defeated near Megiddo in Central Palestine and in successive campaigns down to his 31st year, Thothmes III reconquered the Palestine plains, and all Syria to Carchemish on the Euphrates. In his 29th year, after the conquest of Tuneb (now Tennnib, West of Arpad), he mentions the tribute of the Hittites including "304 lbs in 8 rings of silver, a great piece of white precious stone, and zagu wood." They were, however, still powerful, and further wars in Syria were waged by Amenophis II, while Thothmes IV also speaks of his first "campaign against the land of the Kheta." Adad-nirari I wrote to Egypt to say that Thothmes IV had established his father (Bel-tiglat-Assur) as ruler of the land of Marchasse (probably Mer'ash in the extreme North of Syria), and to ask aid against the "king of the land of the Hittites." Against the increasing power of this race Thothmes IV and his son Amenophis III strengthened themselves by marriage alliances with the Kassite kings of Babylon, and with the cognate rulers of Matiene, East of the Hittite lands of Syria, and Cappadocia. Dusratta of Matiene, whose sister Gilukhepa was married by Amenophis III in his 10th year, wrote subsequently to this Pharaoh to announce his own accession (Amos Tab, Brit. Mus. number 9) and his defeat of the Hittites, sending a two-horse chariot and a young man and young woman as "spoils of the land of the Hittites."

4. "The Great King":

About this time (1480 BC ) arose a great Hittite ruler bearing the strange name Subbiliuliuma, similar to that of Sapalulmi, chief the Hattinai, in North Syria, mentioned by Shalmaneser II in the 9th century BC . He seems to have ruled at Pterium, and calls himself "the great king, the noble king of the Hatti." He allied himself against Dusratta with Artatama, king of the Harri or North Syrians. The Syrian Hittites in Marchassi, North of the land of the Amorites, were led shortly after by Edugamma of Kinza (probably Kittiz, North of Arpad) in alliance with Aziru the Amorite, on a great raid into Phoenicia and to Bashan, South of Damascus. Thus it appears that the Amorites had only reached this region shortly before the Hebrew conquest of Bashan. Amenophis III repelled them in Phoenicia, and Subbiliuliuma descended on Kinza, having made a treaty with Egypt, and captured Edugamma and his father Suttatarra. He also conquered the land of Ikata which apparently lay East of the Euphrates and South of Carehemish. Some 30 years later, in the reign of Amenophis IV, Dusratta of Matiene was murdered, and his kingdom was attacked by the Assyrians but Subbiliuliuma, though not a friend of Dusratta with whom he disputed the suzerainty of North Syria, sent aid to Dusratta's son Mattipiza, whom he set on his throne, giving him his own daughter as a wife. A little later (about 1440 BC ) Aziru the Amorite, who had been subject to Amenophis III, submitted to this same great Hittite ruler, and was soon able to conquer the whole of Phoenicia down to Tyre. All the Egyptian conquests were thus lost in the latter part of the reign of Amenophis III, and in that of Amenophis IV. Only Gaza seems to have been retained, and Burna-burias of Babylon, writing to Amenophis IV, speaks of the Canaanite rebellion as beginning in the time of his father Kuri-galzu I (Amos Tab, British Museum number 2), and of subsequent risings in his own time (Berlin number 7) which interrupted communication with Egypt. Assur-yuballidh of Assyria (Berlin number 9), writing to the same Pharaoh, states also that the relations with Assyria, which dated back even to the time of Assur-nadin-akhi (about 1550 BC ), had ceased. About this earlier period Thothmes III records that he received presents from Assyria. The ruin of Egypt thus left the Hittites independent, in North Syria, about the time when&mdashaccording to Old Testament chronology&mdashPalestine was conquered by Joshua. They probably acknowledged Arandas, the successor of Subbiliuliuma, as their suzerain.

5. Egyptian Invasions: XIXth Dynasty:

The XVIIIth Dynasty was succeeded, about 1400 BC , or a little later, by the XIXth, and Rameses I appears to have been the Pharaoh who made the treaty which Mursilis, brother of Arandas, contracted with Egypt. But on the accession of Seti I, son of Rameses I, the Syrian tribes prepared to "make a stand in the country of the Harri" against the Egyptian resolution to recover the suzerainty of their country. Seti I claims to have conquered "Kadesh (on the Orontes) in the Land of the Amorites," and it is known that Mutallis, the eldest son of Mursilis, fought against Egypt. According to his younger brother Hattusil, he was tyrant, who was finally driven out by his subjects and died before the accession of Kadashman-Turgu (about 1355 BC ) in Babylon. Hattusil, the contemporary of Rameses II, then seized the throne as "great king of the Hittites" and "king of Kus" ("Cush," Genesis 2:3), a term which in the Akkadian language meant "the West." In his 2nd year Rameses II advanced, after the capture of Ashkelon, as far as Beirut, and in his 5th year he advanced on Kadesh where he was opposed by a league of the natives of "the land of the Kheta, the land of Naharain, and of all the Kati" (or inhabitants of Cilicia), among which confederates the "prince of Aleppo" is specially noticed. The famous poem of Pentaur gives an exaggerated account of the victory won by Rameses II at Kadesh, over the allies, who included the people of Carchemish and of many other unknown places for it admits that the Egyptian advance was not continued, and that peace was concluded. A second war occurred later (when the sons of Rameses II were old enough to take part), and a battle was then fought at Tuneb (Tennib) far North of Kadesh, probably about 1316 BC . The celebrated treaty between Rameses II and Chattusil was then made, in the 21st year of the first named. It was engraved on a silver tablet having on the back the image of Set (or Sutekh), the Hittite god of heaven, and was brought to Egypt by Tar-Tessubas, the Hittite envoy. The two "great kings" treated together as equals, and formed a defensive and offensive alliance, with extradition clauses which show the advanced civilization of the age. In the 34th year of his reign, Rameses II (who was then over 50 years of age) married a daughter of Chattusil, who wrote to a son of Kadashman-Turgu (probably Kadashman-burias) to inform this Kassite ruler of Babylon of the event. He states in another letter that he was allied by marriage to the father of Kadashman-Turgu, but the relations between the Kassite rulers and the Hittites were not very cordial, and complaints were made on both sides. Chattusil died before Rameses II, who ruled to extreme old age for the latter (and his queen) wrote letters to Pudukhipa, the widow of this successful Hittite overlord. He was succeeded by Dudhalia, who calls himself "the great king" and the "son of Pudukhipa the great queen, queen of the land of the city of the Chatti."

6. Declension of Power: Aryan Invasion:

The Hittite power began now, however, to decline, in consequence of attacks from the West by hostile Aryan invaders. In the 5th year of Seti Merenptah II, son of Rameses II, these fair "peoples of the North" raided the Syrian coasts, and advanced even to Belbeis and Heliopolis in Egypt, in alliance with the Libyans West of the Delta. They were defeated, and Merenptah appears to have pursued them even to Pa-Kan'-ana near Tyre. A text of his 5th year (found by Dr. Flinders Petrie in 1896) speaks of this campaign, and says that while "Israel is spoiled" the "Hittites are quieted": for Merenptah appears to have been on good terms with them, and allowed corn to be sent in ships "to preserve the life of this people of the Chatti." Dudchalia was succeeded by his son "Arnuanta the great king," of whom a bilingual seal has been found by Dr. Winckler, in Hittite and cuneiform characters but the confederacy of Hittite tribes which had so long resisted Egypt seems to have been broken up by these disasters and by the increasing power of Assyria.

7. Second Aryan Invasion:

A second invasion by the Aryans occurred in the reign of Rameses III (about 1200 BC ) when "agitation seized the peoples of the North," and "no people stood before their arms, beginning with the people of the Chatti, of the Kati, of Carchemish and Aradus." The invaders, including Danai (or early Greeks), came by land and sea to Egypt, but were again defeated, and Rameses III&mdashthe last of the great Pharaohs&mdashpursued them far north, and is even supposed by Brugsch to have conquered Cyprus. Among the cities which he took he names Carchemish, and among his captives were "the miserable king of the Chatti, a living prisoner," and the "miserable king of the Amorites."

8. Assyrian Invasions:

Half a century later (1150 BC ) the Assyrians began to invade Syria, and Assur-ris-isi reached Beirut for even as early as about 1270 BC Tukulti-Ninip of Assyria had conquered the Kassites, and had set a Semitic prince on their throne in Babylon. Early in his reign (about 1130 BC ) Tiglath- pileser I claims to have subdued 42 kings, marching "to the fords of the Euphrates, the land of the Chatti, and the upper sea of the setting sun"&mdashor Mediterranean. Soldiers of the Chatti had seized the cities of Sumasti (probably Samosata), but the Assyrian conqueror made his soldiers swim the Euphrates on skin bags, and so attacked "Carchemish of the land of the Hittites." The Moschians in Cappadocia were apparently of Hittite race, and were ruled by 5 kings: for 50 years they had exacted tribute in Commagene (Northeastern Syria), and they were defeated, though placing 20,000 men in the field against Tiglath-pileser I. He advanced to Kumani (probably Comana in Cappadocia), and to Arini which was apparently the Hittite capital called Arinas (now Iranes), West of Caesarea in the same region.

9. Invasion by Assur-nacir-pal:

The power of the Hittites was thus broken by Assyria, yet they continued the struggle for more than 4 centuries afterward. After the defeat of Tiglath-pileser I by Marduk-nadin-akhi of Babylon (1128-1111 BC ), there is a gap in Assyrian records, and we next hear of the Hittites in the reign of Assur-nacir-pal (883-858 BC ) he entered Commagene, and took tribute from "the son of Bachian of the land of the Chatti," and from "Sangara of Carchemish in the land of the Chatti," so that it appears that the Hittites no longer acknowledged a single "great king." They were, however, still rich, judging from the spoil taken at Carchemish, which included 20 talents of silver, beads, chains, and sword scabbards of gold, 100 talents of copper, 250 talents of iron, and bronze objects from the palace representing sacred bulls, bowls, cups and censers, couches, seats, thrones, dishes, instruments of ivory and 200 slave girls, besides embroidered robes of linen and of black and purple stuffs, gems, elephants' tusks, chariots and horses. The Assyrian advance continued to 'Azzaz in North Syria, and to the Afrin river, in the country of the Chattinai who were no doubt Hittites, where similar spoils are noticed, with 1,000 oxen and 10,000 sheep: the pagutu, or "maces" which the Syrian kings used as scepters, and which are often represented on Hittite monuments, are specially mentioned in this record. Assur-nacir-pal reached the Mediterranean at Arvad, and received tribute from "kings of the sea coast" including those of Gebal, Sidon and Tyre. He reaped the corn of the Hittites, and from Mt. Amanus in North Syria he took logs of cedar, pine, box and cypress.

10. Invasions by Shalmaneser II and Rimmonnirari III:

His son Shalmaneser II (858-823 BC ) also invaded Syria in his 1st year, and again mentions Sangara of Carchemish, with Sapalulmi of the Chattinai. In Commagene the chief of the Gamgums bore the old Hittite name Mutallis. In 856 BC Shalmaneser II attacked Mer'-ash and advanced by Dabigu (now Toipuk) to 'Azzaz. He took from the Hattinai 3 talents of gold, 100 of silver, 300 of copper, 1,000 bronze vases and 1,000 embroidered robes. He also accepted as wives a daughter of Mutallis and another Syrian princess. Two years later 120,000 Assyrians raided the same region, but the southward advance was barred by the great Syrian league which came to the aid of Irchulena, king of Hamath, who was not subdued till about 840 BC . In 836 BC the people of Tubal, and the Kati of Cappadocia and Cilicia, were again attacked. In 831 BC Qubarna, the vassal king of the Chattinai in Syria, was murdered by his subjects, and an Assyrian tartanu or general was sent to restore order. The rebels under Sapalulmi had been confederated with Sangara of Carchemish. Adad-nirari III, grandson of Shalmaneser II, was the next Assyrian conqueror: in 805 BC he attacked 'Azzaz and Arpad, but the resistance of the Syrians was feeble, and presents were sent from Tyre, Sidon, Damascus and Edom. This conqueror states that he subdued "the land of the Hittites, the land of the Amorites, to the limits of the land of Sidon," as well as Damascus, Edom and Philistia.

11. Revolts and Invasions:

But the Hittites were not as yet thoroughly subdued, and often revolted. In 738 BC Tiglath-pileser II mentions among his tributaries a chief of the Gamgums bearing the Hittite name Tarku-lara, with Pisiris of Carchemish. In 702 BC Sennacherib passed peacefully through the "land of the Chatti" on his way to Sidon: for in 717 BC Sargon had destroyed Carchemish, and had taken many of the Hittites prisoners, sending them away far east and replacing them by Babylonians. Two years later he in the same way took the Hamathites as captives to Assyria. Some of the Hittites may have fled to the South, for in 709 BC Sargon states that the king of Ashdod was deposed by "people of the Chatti plotting rebellion who despised his rule," and who set up Azuri instead.

12. Breakup of Hittite Power:

The power of the Hittites was thus entirely broken before Sennacherib's time, but they were not entirely exterminated, for, in 673 BC , Esar-haddon speaks of "twenty-two kings of the Chatti and near the sea." Hittite names occur in 712 BC (Tarchu-nazi of Meletene) and in 711 BC (Mutallis of Commagene), but after this they disappear. Yet, even in a recently found text of Nebuchadnezzar (after 600 BC ), we read that "chiefs of the land of the Chattim, bordering on the Euphrates to the West, where by command of Nergal my lord I had destroyed their rule, were made to bring strong beams from the mountain of Lebanon to my city Babylon." A Hittite population seems to have survived even in Roman times in Cilicia and Cappadocia, for (as Dr. Mordtman observed) a king and his son in this region both bore the name Tarkon-dimotos in the time of Augustus, according to Dio Cassius and Tacitus and this name recalls that of Tarku-timme, the king of Erine in Cappadocia, occurring on a monument which shows him as brought captive before an Assyrian king, while the same name also occurs on the bilingual silver boss which was the head of his scepter, inscribed in Hittite and cuneiform characters.

13. Mongols in Syria:

The power of the Mongolic race decayed gradually as that of the Semitic Assyrians increased but even now in Syria the two races remain mingled, and Turkoman nomads still camp even as far South as the site of Kadesh on the Orontes, while a few tribes of the same stock (which entered Syria in the Middle Ages) still inhabit the plains of Sharon and Esdraelon, just as the southern Hittites dwelt among the Amorites at Jerusalem and Hebron in the days of Abraham, before they were driven north by Thothmes III.

III. Language.

1. Mongol Race:

The questions of race and language in early times, before the early stocks were mixed or decayed, cannot be dissociated, and we have abundant evidence of the racial type and characteristic dress of the Hittites. The late Dr. Birch of the British Museum pointed out the Mongol character of the Hittite type, and his opinion has been very generally adopted. In 1888 Dr. Sayce (The Hittites, 15, 101) calls them "Mongoloid," and says, "They had in fact, according to craniologists, the characteristics of a Mongoloid race." This was also the opinion of Sir W. Flower and, if the Hittites were Mongols, it would appear probable that they spoke a Mongol dialect. It is also apparent that, in this case, they would be related to the old Mongol population of Chaldea (the people of Akkad and Sumir or "of the highlands and river valley") from whom the Semitic Babylonians derived their earliest civilization.

2. Hittite on Egyptian Monuments:

The Hittite type is represented, not only on their own monuments, but on those of the XVIIIth and XIXth Egyptian Dynasties, including acolored picture of the time of Rameses III. The type represented has a short head and receding forehead, a prominent and sometimes rather curved nose, a strong jaw and a hairless face. The complexion is yellow, the eyes slightly slanting, the hair of the head black, and gathered into a long pigtail behind. The physiognomy is like that of the Sumerians represented on a bas-relief at Tel-loh (Zirgul) in Chaldea, and very like that of some of the Kirghiz Mongols of the present time, and of some of the more purely Mongolic Turks. The head of Gudea at Zirgul in like manner shows (about 2800 BC ) the broad cheek bones and hairless face of the Turkish type and the language of his texts, in both grammar and vocabulary, is closely similar to pure Turkish speech.

3. Hair and Beard:

Among Mongolic peoples the beard grows only late in life, and among the Akkadians it is rarely represented&mdashexcepting in the case of gods and ancient kings. The great bas-relief found by Koldewey at Babylon, and representing a Hittite thunder-god with a long pigtail and (at the back) a Hittite inscription, is bearded, but the pigtailed heads on other Hittite monuments are usually hairless. At Iasili-Kaia&mdashthe rock shrine near Pterium&mdashonly the supreme god is bearded, and all the other male figures are beardless. At Ibreez, in Lycaonia, the gigantic god who holds corn and grapes in his hands is bearded, and the worshipper who approaches him also has a beard, and his hair is arranged in the distinctive fashion of the Semitic Babylonians and Assyrians. This type may represent Semitic mixture, for M. Chantre discovered at Kara-eyak, in Cappadocia, tablets in Semitic Babylonian representing traders' letters perhaps as old as 2000 BC . The type of the Ibreez figures has been said to resemble that of the Armenian peasantry of today but, although the Armenians are Aryans of the old Phrygian stock, and their language almost purely Aryan, they have mixed with the Turkish and Semitic races, and have been said even to resemble the Jews. Little reliance can be placed, therefore, on comparison with modern mixed types. The Hittite pigtail is very distinctive of a Mongolic race. It was imposed on the Chinese by the Manchus in the 17th century, but it is unknown among Aryan or Semitic peoples, though it seems to be represented on some Akkadian seals, and on a bas-relief picturing the Mongolic Susians in the 7th century BC .

4. Hittite Dress:

The costume of the Hittites on monuments seems also to indicate Mongolic origin. Kings and priests wear long robes, but warriors (and the gods at Ibreez and Babylon) wear short jerkins, and the Turkish shoe or slipper with a curled-up toe, which, however, is also worn by the Hebrew tribute bearers from Jehu on the "black obelisk" (about 840 BC ) of Shalmaneser II. Hittite gods and warriors are shown as wearing a high, conical head-dress, just like that which (with addition of the Moslem turban) characterized the Turks at least as late as the 18th century. The short jerkin also appears on Akkadian seals and bas-reliefs, and, generally speaking, the Hittites (who were enemies of the Lycians, Danai and other Aryans to their west) may be held to be very clearly Mongolic in physical type and costume, while the art of their monuments is closely similar to that of the most archaic Akkadian and Babylonian sculptures of Mesopotamia. It is natural to suppose that they were a branch of the same remarkable race which civilized Chaldea, but which seems to have had its earliest home in Akkad, or the "highlands" near Ararat and Media, long before the appearance of Aryan tribes either in this region or in Ionia. The conclusion also agrees with the Old Testament statement that the Hittites were akin to the descendants of Ham in Babylonia, and not to the "fair" tribes (Japheth), including Medes, Ionians and other Aryan peoples.

5. Hittite Names:

As early as 1866 Chabas remarked that the Hittite names (of which so many have been mentioned above) were clearly not Semitic, and this has been generally allowed. Those of the Amorites, on the other hand, are Semitic, and the type represented, with brown skin, dark eyes and hair, aqui-line features and beards, agrees (as is generally allowed) in indicating a Semitic race. There are now some 60 of these Hittite names known, and they do not suggest any Aryan etymology. They are quite unlike those of the Aryan Medes (such as Baga-datta, etc.) mentioned by the Assyrians, or those of the Vannic kings whose language (as shown by recently published bilinguals in Vannic and Assyrian) seems very clearly to have been Iranian&mdashor similar to Persian and Sanskrit&mdashbut which only occurs in the later Assyrian age. Comparisons with Armenian and Georgian (derived from the Phrygian and Scythian) also fail to show any similarity of vocabulary or of syntax, while on the other hand comparisons with the Akkadian, the Kassite and modern Turkish at once suggest a linguistic connection which fully agrees with what has been said above of the racial type. The common element Tarku, or Tarkhan, in Hittite names suggests the Mongol dargo and the Turkish tarkhan, meaning a "tribal chief." Sil again is an Akkadian word for a "ruler," and nazi is an element in both Hittite and Kassite names.

6. Vocabulary of Pterium Epistles:

It has also been remarked that the vocabulary of the Hittite letters discovered by Chantre at Pterium recalls that of the letter written by Dusratta of Matiene to Amenophis III (Amos Tab number 27, Berlin), and that Dusratta adored the Hittite god Tessupas. A careful study of the language of this letter shows that, in syntax and vocabulary alike, it must be regarded as Mongolic and as a dialect of the Akkadian group. The cases of the noun, for instance, are the same as in Akkadian and in modern Turkish. No less than 50 words and terminations are common to the language of this letter and of those discovered by M. Chantre and attributed to the Hittites whose territory immediately adjoined that of Matiene. The majority of these words occur also in Akkadian.

7. Tell el-Amarna Tablet:

But in addition to these indications we have a letter in the Tell el-Amarna Letters (Berlin number 10) written by a Hittite prince, in his own tongue and in the cuneiform script. It is from (and not to, as has been wrongly supposed by Knudtzon) a chief named Tarchun-dara, and is addressed to Amenophis III, whose name stands first. In all the other letters the name of the sender always follows that of the recipient. The general meaning of this letter is clear from the known meanings of the "ideograms" used for many words and it is also clear that the language is "agglutinative" like the Akkadian. The suffixed possessive pronouns follow the plural termination of the noun as in Akkadian, and prepositions are not used as they are in Semitic and Aryan speech the precative form of the verb has also been recognized to be the same as used in Akkadian. The pronouns mi, "my," and ti, "thy," are to be found in many living Mongolic dialects (e.g. the Zyrianian me and te) in Akkadian also they occur as mi and zi. The letter opens with the usual salutation: "Letter to Amenophis III the great king, king of the land of Egypt (Mizzari-na), from Tarchun-dara (Tarchundara-da), king of the land of Arzapi (or Arzaa), thus. To me is prosperity. To my nobles, my hosts, my cavalry, to all that is mine in all my lands, may there be prosperity (moreover?) may there be prosperity: to thy house, thy wives, thy sons, thy nobles, thy hosts, thy cavalry, to all that is thine in thy lands may there be prosperity." The letter continues to speak of a daughter of the Pharaoh, and of a sum of gold which is being sent in charge of an envoy named Irsappa. It concludes (as in many other instances) with a list of presents, these being sent by "the Hittite prince (Num. Chattu) from the land Igait" (perhaps the same as Ikata), and including, besides the gold, various robes, and ten chairs of ebony inlaid with ivory. As far as it can at present be understood, the language of this letter, which bears no indications of either Semitic or Aryan speech, whether in vocabulary or in syntax, strongly favors the conclusion that the native Hittite language was a dialect of that spoken by the Akkadians, the Kassites and the Minyans of Matiene, in the same age.

IV. Religion.

1. Polytheism: Names of Deities:

The Hittites like their neighbors adored many gods. Besides Set (or Sutekh), the "great ruler of heaven," and Ishtar (Ashtoreth), we also find mentioned (in Chattusil's treaty) gods and goddesses of "the hills and rivers of the land of the Chatti," "the great sea, the winds and the clouds." Tessupas was known to the Babylonians as a name of Rimmon, the god of thunder and rain. On a bilingual seal (in Hittite and cuneiform characters), now in the Ashmolean Museum, we find noticed the goddess Ischara, whose name, among the Kassites, was equivalent to Istar. The Hittite gods are represented&mdashlike those of the Assyrians&mdashstanding erect on lions. One of them (at Samala in Syria) is lion-headed like Nergal. They also believed in demons, like the Akkadians and others.

2. Religious Symbolism:

Their pantheon was thus also Mongolic, and the suggestion (by Dr. Winckler) that they adored Indian gods (Indra, Varuna), and the Persian Mithra, not only seems improbable, but is also hardly supported by the quotations from Semitic texts on which this idea is based. The sphinx is found as a Hittite emblem at Eyuk, North of Pterium, with the double-headed eagle which again, at Iasili-kaia, supports a pair of deities. It also occurs at Tel-loh as an Akkadian emblem, and was adopted by the Seljuk Turks about 1000 AD . At Eyuk we have a representation of a procession bringing goats and rams to an altar. At Iflatun-bunar the winged sun is an emblem as in Babylonia. At Mer'-ash, in Syria, the mother goddess carries her child, while an eagle perches on a harp beside her. At Carchemish the naked Ishtar is represented with wings. The religious symbolism, like the names of deities, thus suggests a close connection with the emblems and beliefs of the Kassites and Akkadians.

V Script.

1. Cuneiform and Hieroglyphic:

In the 16th century BC , and down to the 13th century, the Hittites used the cuneiform characters and the Babylonian language for correspondence abroad. On seals and and mace-heads they used their own hieroglyphics, together with the cuneiform. These emblems, which occur on archaic monuments at Hamath, Carchemish and Aleppo in Syria, as well as very frequently in Cappadocia and Pontus, and less frequently as far West as Ionia, and on the East at Babylon, are now proved to be of Hittite origin, since the discovery of the seal of Arnuanta already noticed. The suggestion that they were Hittite was first made by the late Dr. W. Wright (British and Foreign Evangelical Review, 1874). About 100 such monuments are now known, including seals from Nineveh and Cappadocia, and Hittite gold ornaments in the Ashmolean Museum and there can be little doubt that, in cases where the texts accompany figures of the gods, they are of a votive character.

2. Description of Signs:

The script is quite distinctive, though many of the emblems are similar to those used by the Akkadians. There are some 170 signs in all, arranged one below another in the line&mdashas among Akkadians. The lines read alternately from right to left and from left to right, the profile emblems always facing the beginning of each line.

The interpretation of these texts is still a controversial question, but the most valuable suggestion toward their understanding is that made by the late Canon Isaac Taylor (see ALPHABET, 1883). A syllabary which was afterward used by the Greeks in Cyprus, and which is found extensively spread in Asia Minor, Egypt, Palestine, Crete, and even on later coins in Spain, was recognized by Dr. Taylor as being derived from the Hittite signs. It was deciphered by George Smith from a Cypriote-Phoenician bilingual, and appears to give the sounds applying to some 60 signs.

3. Interpretation of Monuments:

These sounds are confirmed by the short bilinguals as yet known, and they appear in some cases at least to be very clearly the monosyllabic words which apply in Akkadian to similar emblems. We have thus the bases of a comparative study, by aid of a known language and script&mdasha method similar to that which enabled Sir H. Rawlinson to recover scientifically the lost cuneiform, or Champollion to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics.



The Egyptian notices will be found in Brugsch's A History of Egypt under the Pharaohs, 1879, and the Assyrian in Schrader's Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament, English Translation, 1885. The discoveries of Chantre are published in his Mission en Cappadoce, 1898, and those of Dr. H. Winckler in the Mitteilungen der deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft, number 35, December, 1907. The researches of Humann and Puchstein, Reisen in Kleinasien und Nordsyrien, 1890, are also valuable for this question as is also Dr. Robert Koldewey's discovery of a Hittite monument at Babylon (Die hettische Inschrift, 1900). The recent discovery of sculpture at a site North of Samala by Professor Garstang is published in the Annals of Archaeology, I, number 4, 1908, by the University of Liverpool. These sculptures are supposed to date about 800 BC , but no accompanying inscriptions have as yet been found. The views of the present writer are detailed in his Tell Amarna Tablets, 2nd edition, 1894, and in The Hittites and Their Languages, 1898. Dr. Sayce has given an account of his researches in a small volume, The Hittites, 1888, but many discoveries by Sir C. Wilson, Mr. D.G. Hogarth, Sir W. Ramsay, and other explorers have since been published, and are scattered in various periodicals not easily accessible. The suggestions of Drs. Jensen, Hommel, and Peiser, in Germany, of comparison with Armenian, Georgian and Turkish, have not as yet produced any agreement nor have those of Dr. Sayce, who looks to Vannic or to Gr and further light on Hittite decipherment is still awaited. See, further, Professor Garstang's Land of the Hittites, 1910.

C. R. Conder

See more on the meaning of Hittites in the Bible:
Hittites <Easton's Bible Dictionary>

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The Hittites - A Civilisation Lost and Found

S ome 3000 years ago, the Hittites were the most powerful nation in the Middle East. Their empire extended from the Black Sea to Damascus, and more than 1000 km (620 miles) east to west across Anatolia, now a part of modern Turkey.

Militarily, they were a foe to be feared. They were masters of strategy and possessed a large number of chariots, which they were able to manoeuvre adroitly. Politically, they were more astute than any of their neighbours. They possessed a very humane code of laws and their women were remarkably emancipated for the times. Yet, this great nation not only disappeared from history, it was lost and forgotten so completely that historians of the nineteenth century even denied its existence. The 1861 edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, under the subject “Hittites,” contains just eight-and-a-half lines, and even then it’s but a summary of what is found in the Bible:

“HITTITES: the children or descendants of Heth, formed one of the tribes of Canaanites which occupied Palestine before the Israelites. They lived in the mountains of Judea around Hebron, and retained their nationality even after the return of the Israelites from exile.” The “kings of the Hittites” are often mentioned in connection with the kings of Syria and in the days of Joram their alliance with the Egyptians was an object of dread to the besieged inhabitants of Samaria.

The 3000-year-old Sphinx of Hattusa, one of two unearthed in 1907 outside the modern town of Boğazkale. The sphinx was discovered by German archaeologists and has been on display in the Berlin Pergamon Museum since 1934. In 2011, after more than 70 years of wrangling over the valuable sculpture, it was returned to Turkey following threats to revoke the German Archaeological Institute’s permit to excavate in Turkey if it was not returned.

The Bible contains many references to this people, with the word Hittite appearing some 46 times in the King James Version. We read about them in Genesis 23:3, 4, after the death of Abraham’s wife, Sarah: “Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. . . . Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead” (NIV).

And later, when Israel was about to occupy Canaan, the so-called Promised Land, after fleeing Egypt, the nations who were there are mentioned as the “Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite” (Deuteronomy 20:17).

But an even more significant occurrence is in 2 Kings 7:6. At that time, Samaria was under siege by the Syrians, when suddenly, the Syrians withdrew and retreated, “For the Lord had caused the army of the Syrians to hear the noise of chariots and the noise of horses—the noise of a great army so they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us!’ ”

So, according to the biblical record, the Hittites were a well-recognised and an important and powerful nation. Yet because no ancient historian mentioned them, and because they appeared to leave no archaeological footprint, critics of the Bible relegated them to the realm of myth. But this was about to change.

The Hamath Stones Moved to the Istanbul Museum by Dr W Wright in 1872 amidst outrage from the superstitious local community, these stones became the very first artefacts that attracted modern day researchers to the existence of a Hittite civilisation and language. Some scholars believe these inscriptions form a connecting link between picture writing and alphabetic writing. The translation of these blocks are building inscriptions of the kings of Hamath, Urhilina and his son Uratamis.

Piecing it together

It was in 1812 that the Swiss explorer John Burckhardt discovered the lost city of Petra, returning to Europe with an astonishing tale of the wonders of the red city. In the course of his travels, Burckhardt visited Hamath in northern Syria, and there he noticed in the foundations of a building some large oblong stones on which were inscribed some strange hieroglyphs. They weren’t Egyptian. Burckhardt had no idea of their origin, nor did anyone else.

In 1822, Burckhardt published the book Travels in Syria and the Holy Land. In it, he described “a stone with a number of small figures and signs which appears to be a kind of hieroglyphic writing, though it does not resemble that of Egypt.” His revelation was not pursued.

Then in 1834, the French explorer Charles Texier was travelling through central Turkey in search of the lost Roman city of Tavium. During his search, he came to the village of Boğazköy, modern Boğazkale. He enquired about ancient ruins and was informed of some nearby.

Here were sculptured stones, obvious deserted streets and a surrounding wall 5 km (3 miles) in circumference. It was not Tavium—it was too big for that. But what was it? Who had built and occupied this great city? There was no known nation of antiquity that fitted. He went away baffled.

A friendly Turk then led Texier across a valley to a clump of large rocks jutting from the ground. The place was known as Yazilikaya. Here, engraved on the side of one of the rocks, was a line of figures with peaked hats. Who were they? Texier was mystified.

The following year, a British traveller, William Hamilton, came to Boğazkale and saw all that Texier had seen and 20 km to the north, he stumbled across another deserted city known to the Turks as Alacahoyuk. Hamilton was equally perplexed by his discovery.

In 1862, a Frenchman, George Perrot, came to Boğazkale. Besides the things that his predecessors had seen, Perrot found among the ruins a rock face known locally as the Nishan Tash, on which there was a lengthy hieroglyphic inscription. Perrot, of course, had no way of knowing what was written on the rock, but he too was bewildered by this strange writing.

In 1870, two Americans, J A Johnson and S Jessup, strolling through the bazaar at Hamath, noticed not only the stones that Burckhardt had reported, but three others. Shortly after, another similar stone was discovered 200 km north in Aleppo. The trail was getting hot.

Büyükkale, meaning “Great Fortress,” was the site of the Hittite acropolis and the state archives, on the east side of Boğazkale. These archives have played a most important role in learning about Hittite history, with hundreds of tablets, not only contracts and official documents but prophecies, instruction in cult practice, folklore, collections of legal decisions and historical texts being discovered.

Governor Subhi Pasha and William Wright

Finally, in 1872, a man of a different character entered. William Wright, an Irish missionary, spoke the local language, understood the people and was on good terms with the governor, Subhi Pasha. The governor was an enlightened man and Wright was able to convince him that the stones should be removed and sent to the museum at Constantinople for safe-keeping. But that was when the trouble began.

It appears that the local people had a superstitious belief in the stones’ curative properties for eye diseases, of which there were no shortage in the area. When the governor’s men began to chisel the stones from the building, the people protested, but the governor, having the military on his side, was able to complete the task and remove the stones to his palace. Then the problems really started in earnest.

That night, Whirling Dervishes raced through the streets stirring up the emotions of the frenzied crowd. To make matters worse, there was a shower of falling stars, which heightened the superstitions of the crowd, and they stormed the gates of the palace. Had it not been for the protection of the soldiers, Wright and the governor would not have lived to see the sunrise.

In the morning, the crowd was still there and the governor admitted a delegation to present their complaints. He listened to their objections, especially to their assertion that Allah had shown his displeasure in the display of falling stars. He settled the mob, and the stones were removed to the Istanbul Museum where they are still on display.

Wright was able to take impressions of the writing and send it to the British Museum.

Gaining pages

In 1876, excavations commenced in the ancient site of Carchemish, 100 km north-east of Aleppo, near the border between Turkey and Syria. Numerous impressive monuments of the same style as those in Turkey and more stones inscribed with the same mysterious hieroglyphic characters were discovered there.

Indecipherable inscriptions were found as far away as Smyrna on the west coast of Turkey. One thing was apparent: some great and cultured nation had once occupied this area and scholars needed to identify it.

Finally, in 1880, archaeological mystery burst. At a meeting of the Society for Biblical Archaeology in London, a young but well-known orientalist scholar, Archibald Henry Sayce, announced his conviction, despite the critics, that the monuments were to be attributed to the biblical Hittites.

Sayce was unmoved by the backlash that followed. He had carried out considerable research on the subject and had done some on-the-spot inspections in Turkey. He threw himself into further study. The debate was not only rife among scholars but in the press and among the British public, whose imagination has always been easily fired by archaeological discoveries.

The next year, a new edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica was published, and this time, under the heading “Hittites,” were not the eight-and-a-half lines, but two whole pages. The article concluded,

“We wait longingly for a confirmation of Professor Sayce’s view that the Hittites were the authors of the Hamathite hieroglyphics. . . . If this be proved . . . this wonderful nation steps into a position hardly surpassed by that of any of the nations of the distant East.”

Those were almost prophetic words.

Finally, in 1884, Wright published a book, The Empire of the Hittites, in which he presented a mass of scholarly evidence that defied resistance. The Hittites had not only been positively identified, but had taken their place as one of the great nations of antiquity.

An Indo-European controversy

But the search for truth had really only just begun. To be sure, the Hittites had been identified, but nothing was yet known of their history. That could not be clarified until the Hittite language and writing were understood.

The breakthrough came not from Turkey or Syria, but nearly 2000 kilometres away in Egypt. In 1887, the Tel el -Amarna Letters were discovered. These were clay tablets on which messages in Assyrian cuneiform were addressed to Pharaoh Akhenaten of Egypt.

One of the letters was from the Hittite king Suppiluliumas to Akhenaten, congratulating him on his accession to the throne. This was important, for it not only gave the name of a Hittite king, but it provided a synchronism by which he could be dated. For the first time, a date could be affixed to a Hittite king.

Two of the Tel el-Amarna Letters were of special importance: Known as the Arzawa Letters, they were written in readable cuneiform but included a hitherto unknown language in parallel. Scholars surmised that this might be the Hittite language, and went to work unravelling it.

In 1902, a Norwegian scholar, J A Knudtzon, announced his opinion that the Hittite language was of Indo-European origin. This suggestion was greeted with derision: Semitic, yes Hamitic, possibly Indo-European, never. Such was the push-back and academic argument against him that Knudtzon recanted his assertion, but time would later prove him correct.

Hugo Winckler

Another significant development occurred in 1906. Hugo Winckler was a German with an unfortunate personality. He was the type of person who made an instant enemy of anyone he met. He was unfit for the work of archaeology as he was ill at ease in a foreign culture. In fact, he was not an archaeologist at all—he was a philologist, a scholar in writing, and in his field, he was brilliant. He could read the Assyrian cuneiform like we read a morning newspaper.

Winckler arrived at Boğazkale and immediately began digging. He was naturally more interested in inscriptions than monuments. And he found them—some 10,000 clay tablets in all. Many were written not only in readable cuneiform, but in the known Babylonian language. Winckler feverishly went about translating them.

Naturally, many of the tablets were in both cuneiform and Hittite languages. With this added material, scholars made great progress in understanding the Hittite language. In 1915, Friedrich Hrozny, a Czech linguist, caused a sensation by announcing that Hittite was indeed an Indo-European language, producing such a volume of evidence that scholars could not argue against his conclusion.

How the Hittites, of Hamitic ethnic origin and coming from Palestine, spoke a European-type of language was the subject of much speculation. By 1929, it was well enough understood that a manual of the Hittite language was published.

Tarkendemos Seal: Hittite hieroglyphs surround a figure in royal dress, with an inscription repeated in cuneiform around the rim. The text identifies Tarkummuwa as the owner and Hittite ruler. This famous bilingual inscription provided the first clues for deciphering Hittite/Luwian hieroglyphs.

The missing seal

So the Hittites had been identified and the Hittite language translated. Now there remained one more problem: deciphering the Hittite hieroglyphs. No-one imagined it was going to be so easy.

Archibald Sayce—the scholar who first announced the mysterious monuments found in Turkey should be attributed to the biblical Hittites—faced the problem many years earlier. One day, Sayce discovered a report that mentioned a seal that had been found in western Turkey and sent to the British Museum. The seal was reported to include cuneiform writing and some unknown figures. Sayce believed it to be a bilingual document, something a philologist must have to crack an unknown language. He went in search of the seal.

At the museum, Sayce was told that while the seal was offered to the museum, it had been rejected as spurious because the strange figures on it were unknown. Sayce was flabbergasted, but fortunately, the official recalled that a copy of the seal had been made before it left the museum.

The copy of what became known as the Tarkendemos Seal was duly produced and Sayce went to work. He made some progress, being able to work out the word for king and the name of the king, but he could not go beyond that—the seal was too brief.

In 1934, Kurt Bittel was excavating in Boğazkale when he discovered no less than 100 bilingual documents. The scholastic world was delighted and it seemed that cracking the Hittite hieroglyphs was only a matter of time. But alas, their hopes were dashed. Some progress was made, but the bilingual documents were only seals, too brief to provide the key.

Karatepe Bilingual Inscription When scholars excavated Karatepe in 1947, they discovered the first-known bilingual inscription in Luwian Hieroglyphic and Phoenician. The inscription was carved over two stone gates stretching over many elements ranging from plain to ornamental blocks, covering a figure of a lion and sphinx and relief sculptures.

Bilingual breakthrough in Karatepe

It was not until 1947 that the long-sought key was found, when Helmuth Theodor Bossert, a German philologist and archaeologist, accepted an invitation to teach at the Istanbul University. In the same year, Bossert took time off from his teaching to lead an archaeological party to Karatepe, a remote ruin in southern Turkey. He achieved dramatic success, discovering some fine Hittite reliefs.

Near the end of the dig, Bossert unearthed the top of a slab of stone on which was some Phoenician writing. He did more probing and uncovered another stone nearby on which he identified some indistinct Hittite hieroglyphics. It seemed he had discovered the all-important bilingual document. But there was no time to pursue the matter further, and as he saw no point in raising the expectations of his companions, he quickly reburied his finds and said nothing to his associates.

Five months later, Bossert was back at Karatepe. He was a likeable character who seemed to possess a sense of the dramatic. He set his party to work at the site where he had previously reburied the stones and stood back to watch. He didn’t have long to wait. His party soon unearthed the stone on which there was the Phoenician inscription.

Delighted with their find, Bossert put them to work a few metres away where he knew they would find the Hittite inscription. In a few moments, they found that also, but as it emerged from its dusty bed in the fading light of that late afternoon, Bossert realised that what he had thought to be Hittite hieroglyphics were nothing more than cracks in the stone caused by the passage of time. His heart sank.

But the party continued digging and to Bossert’s delight, not far away, they found another stone, which proved to be the dreamed-of bilingual document. It was then only a matter of time for the code to be broken and the secret of the hieroglyphics known.

Although there are some characters that are still not completely understood, most Hittite hieroglyphics can be read and scholars have been able to put together the history of this once great empire. Their hieroglyphics were originally credited as Hittite, because they were found in Hittite cities like Hattusa, but it is now recognised that the Hittites actually adopted the Luwian script. The Luwians were related to the Hittites and were the dominant group in the Late Hittite culture.

Kings of the Hittites

According to biblical records, the Hittites were strongly represented in Palestine but either migrated or were forced out to Anatolia. Apparently, a migratory wave swept down from the north and conquered the Hittites, imposing their Indo-European language and culture upon them, while adopting the Hittite name.

The first king of this new people was Anittas, who conquered Hattusas, now called Boğazkale, and pronounced a curse upon it. The curse did not work very well, because it was soon rebuilt and became the capital city of the great Hittite empire.

The king who united the Hittites into a consolidated nation was Labarnas. He became such a legendary figure that later kings took his name as a title, much as how Egyptian kings were known as Pharaohs. A later king, Mursilis I, led his armies in foreign conquests, marching them as far as Babylon, which they plundered, making off with the golden image of the god Marduk.

But it was Suppiluliumas who took the Hittites to the pinnacle of their power. He rebuilt Hattusas and he was responsible for the inscription on the rock face known as the Nishan Tash. It was actually a king list and he, of course, was the last king listed, perhaps to help establish his right to rule as well as to perpetuate his memory.

Suppiluliumas developed his army into a formidable military machine with a strong chariot force. He established his rule over all of what we now call Turkey and northern Syria. It was he who sent a message of congratulations to Akhenaten on his accession to the Egyptian throne.

While Suppiluliumas was campaigning in Syria, a dramatic incident occurred. An Egyptian delegation arrived at his camp with a message from Ankhesenamun, the widowed queen of Tutankhamun. The message read,

“My husband has died and not one son do I have. But of you it is said that you have many sons. If you will give me a son of yours he could be my husband, for how can I take one of my slaves and make him a husband and honour him?”

Suppiluliumas felt the request was too good to be true, so he dispatched a delegation of his own to ascertain whether the offer was genuine. The delegation returned confirming the offer and also brought with them another plea from the Egyptian queen for a Hittite prince to be sent to Egypt. Suppiluliumas hesitated no longer and sent one of his sons. But his delay proved fatal, as by then, the statesman-priest, Eye, had seized the throne and the young queen. Before the Hittite prince arrived, he was assassinated.

It is intriguing to speculate how the course of history might have been changed had Suppiluliumas acted promptly. Egypt may have become a province of the Hittite Empire, with a Hittite seated upon the throne of Egypt.

Wiped Out

A confrontation between the two great superpowers of the then known world was inevitable and it came in the days of Muwatalli II. His opponent was Rameses the Great of Egypt. The clash was the well-known Battle of Kadesh in which Rameses was fortunate to escape with his life. A few years later, Rameses was content to sign a non-aggression pact with Muwatallis’ successor, Hattusilis III.

But the sun was about to set on the great Hittite empire. Tudhaliyas IV was the last great Hittite king. He was a devout religious reformer and was responsible for the rock carvings at Yazilikaya. A small stone temple was built at the entrance to the natural rocks. The foundations of this temple have been excavated by archaeologists and can be seen by visitors today. There is also a well-preserved relief of Tudhaliyas in the embrace of his god. The Hittite worship was polytheistic and the line of figures copied on the rock face depict some of their gods.

But the so-called People of the Sea were on the march and they swept over the Hittite empire, obliterating it from memory. A few pockets of resistance remained but, they too, soon disappeared and the Hittites were lost and forgotten. Only in the Bible was there preserved a knowledge of this great nation, again underscoring its veracity as, at the very least, an accurate history of humankind and a useful tool of archaeology, and something not to be ignored or scoffed at.


In the Hittite system of governance, the Hittite king acted as the supreme priest, military commander, and chief judge of the land. In the early years of the empire, the king was assisted by the pankus, an advisory council of nobles. The different provinces of the empire were administered by provincial governors. Certain states at the edge of the empires were ruled by vassal kings under terms of a formal treaty.

In their legal code, the Hittites rarely resorted to the death penalty or to bodily mutilation as punishment for breaking the law - penalties that were frequently used by other ancient Middle Eastern kingdoms. Rather than relying on retribution or vengeance, the principle for redressing transgressions was restitution. For instance, the penalty for theft was restoration of the stolen property and payment of an additional recompense. In due course, restitution in kind was gradually replaced by payment of money.


O. Schroeder, ZAW, XXXV (1915), 247, 248 A. H. Sayce, JTS, XXII (1921), 267 E. O. Forrer, PEQ, LXVIII (1936), 190-209, and LXIX (1937), 100-115 Delaporte, RHA, IV (1938), 289-296 M. Vieyra, RHA, V (1939), 113-116 F. F. Bruce, The Hittites and the OT (1948) G. E. Mendenhall, “Law and Covenant in Israel and the Ancient Near East,” BA, XVII (1954), 26-46, 49-76 A. Malamat, “Doctrines of Causality in Hittite and Biblical Historiography,” VT, V (1955), 1-12 A. Kammenhuber, “Die hethitische Geschichtsschreibung,” Saeculum, IX (1958), 136-155 M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King (1963) D. J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant (1963) C. Rabin, “Hittite Loanwords in Hebrew,” Orientalia Nova Series, XXXII (1963), 113-139 H. Hoffner, “An Anatolian Cult Term in Ugaritic,” JNES, XXIII (1964), 66-68 O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament : An Introduction (1965), 32-56 H. Hoffner, “Symbols of Masculinity and Femininity,” JBL, LXXXV (1966), Part III H. Hoffner, “Some Contributions of Hittitology to OT Study” Tyndale Bulletin 20 (1969), 29-55.

Hittites and Egyptians

History’s first peace treaty dates to c. 1259 BC, and was ratified between the Hittite state in Anatolia and New Kingdom Egypt. I had the opportunity to see remains of both civilizations on my recent trip. They’re quite different from each other.

Ancient Egypt is very well-known. Their monuments still stand after millennia, and their style is unmistakeable. The pyramids of Giza to the west of Cairo are perhaps the most famous remains, but the New Kingdom (1500-1000 BC) was ruled from Upper Egypt, specifically Thebes, now known as Luxor. By this point Egyptians were no longer building pyramids, but they certainly had not lost their taste for monumental architecture. On the east bank of the Nile, you can visit two massive temple complexes, Luxor and Karnak. These were once connected by the so-called Avenue of the Sphinxes, a 1.5 mile road lined with recumbent sphinx sculptures, part of which is still visible.

Luxor Temple consists of pylons, obelisks, hypostyle halls, massive sculptures, and incised hieroglyphics on almost every vertical surface. Of course, one could spend one’s entire career studying the history of its construction, use, excavation, and restoration, which like that of most Egyptian monuments is ongoing. The signs suggested that Luxor Temple was used for the Opet Festival when, once a year, statues of the Theban Triad of gods were brought from the Karnak Temple to the Luxor Temple, in a celebration of rebirth and renewal.

Originally there were two obelisks, but the other one is now in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Behind the remaining obelisk are two “pylons,” wall-like structures that mark the temple’s entrance. The vertical incisions once held flagpoles.

The Karnak Temple is within walking distance of the Luxor Temple (although not to worry, plenty of cab drivers will offer to take you in their horse-drawn carriages if you don’t want to go on foot). Between the two temples is the Luxor Museum, which is much smaller than the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and displays fewer artifacts, but I think it’s a good example of the “less is more” principle – what they do have is of a pretty high quality, and the building is architecturally pleasing too. I was glad to see the mummy that Emory returned to Egypt in 2003.

The Karnak Temple is even more impressive. It is certainly more extensive. Here is a model of the whole thing as it may have looked at its height.

And here are some shots of its current condition.

Of course, the Karnak Temple, the main home for the gods Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, comprises an entire field of study. I enjoyed speaking with Mahmoud (referenced below) and one Ben Pennington of the University of Southampton, who was drilling core samples that would help reveal the fluvial (and settlement) history of the place going back some 7000 years.

And this is just on the East Bank! On the other side of the Nile, one finds the various mortuary temples constructed for New Kingdom pharaohs, like Hatshepsut or Ramesses III.

Then there’s the famous Valley of the Kings, where the pharaohs were actually entombed. King Tut’s tomb (designated KV62), although the most famous, was actually one of the smallest. Most of the tombs go quite a long way down into the limestone cliffs – workers would start digging it at the beginning a king’s reign, and keep on going until he died. They they had seventy days to finish everything up, which is why none of them is 100% complete. Of course, thieves stole all the grave goods long ago, but the decoration remains intact. Photography was strictly prohibited, however.

As I say, all this is very impressive. The Egyptians obviously had a wealthy nation and a strong, highly centralized state that could commandeer sufficient surpluses, and redirect them to architectural projects for which they clearly had a large class of highly skilled artisans. The desert clime of Egypt has probably helped preserve these for the ages, and you can’t help but admire their work, so many thousands of years later.

The Hittite state, by contrast, has not left remains as impressive. No one even knew there were Hittites until the late nineteenth century, when archaeologists began uncovering evidence of their Bronze-Age civilization in Anatolia. That they were named “Hittites,” after the Biblical “children of Heth,” is a matter of convenience – debate continues about whether or not the identification is valid. As more and more was uncovered, two things became apparent: the Hittites spoke an Indo-European language, representing the first appearance of that particular language family in the narrative of Western Civilization, and they were pioneers in the smelting of iron, and are thus forerunners of the Iron Age, which succeeded the collapse of their state around 1180 BC.

Hittite artifacts may be viewed in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums and in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, but to view an actual archaeological site, you have to travel to Boğazkale, in Çorum Province. There you can walk around Hattusa, the capital of the Hittite empire. It takes the form of a circular wall, enclosing an area several acres in size, with numerous settlements within it. A model greets you as you enter.

But most of what you’ll see comprises nothing more than building foundations.

The Hittites eventually adopted cuneiform writing, which is how we know their language was Indo-European. Prior to that time, they employed a script known as Hittite hieroglyphics these may be seen inscribed on this rock…

On the exterior wall around Hattusa, we find the famous lion gate.

But on the whole, this picture conveys the sense I got when I visited: the Hittites adapted themselves to their environment, rather than trying to master it. The mountain forms a natural defense that they incorporated into their city.

By this criterion, the Egyptians were far more “civilized” than the Hittites. You wonder how there could ever have been any agreement between them based on the notion of equality.

But I couldn’t help but wonder whether living in ancient Egypt wasn’t like living in North Korea, with the only difference being that people had more to eat. Here we have an entire state set up to satisfy the whim of a single individual. (It’s true that the Luxor and Karnak Temples were ostensibly for the gods, but it was clear that each pharaoh took pleasure in adding something to them, and thereby glorifying himself.) The only art allowed was propaganda that honored the gods/the pharaoh, and in the approved style (did it not get boring after a while?!). All the building remains that I saw around Luxor were ceremonial in some way. Constructing it provided employment for people, and demonstrated the strength of the state, but does it not simply represent massive wealth destruction?* Hattusa, by contrast, was an actual city, with a wall, and functional buildings within it like houses and administrative space, in addition to temples, which were much more modest in scale. Obviously, the Egyptians would have had these too, but they were completely overshadowed by their massive temples. My guide suggested that the Egyptian penchant for construction bestowed meaning and dignity on everyone – building and decorating were meritorious in the eyes of the gods, and constituted a form of prayer. But I can’t help but think that a better way of arranging a society would be to allow greater material advantages to accrue to its populace. If nothing else it shows that you don’t need an elaborate material culture to hold your own in the fields of warfare and diplomacy.

Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress , for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built.

The Kingdom Of The Hittites History Essay

Two Archaeologist who were among the first ones to take an interest in the Hittites were the French adventurer-explorer called Charles Texier (1834), and British scholar called Archibald Henry Sayce (1876), who gave lectures to the Society of Biblical Archaeology about a group of people referred to in the Bible as the Hittites. Sayce puts forward a bold new theory-that the Hittites, far from being an insignificant Canaanite tribe, were in fact the masters of a great and widespread empire extending throughout the Near East (Bryce, 2002, p2). The German archaeologist Hugo Winckler began excavating the site, examining over 1000 clay tablets which had been discovered. They were inscribed in the cuneiform script the Hittites used cuneiform script on their writing. Hieroglyph form was also used and it was intended for ordinary people so that they would understand the contents (Sansal, 2010). Winckler was able to read a number of these tablets, since they are in the language called Akkadian, the international language of diplomacy in the second millennium BC. He discovered the Akkadian version of a treaty which the pharaoh Ramesses II drew up with Hattusili, king of the Hittites, in the twenty-first year of his reign. This, combined with other evidence, made it clear that the site under excavation is the Hittite capital, later to be identified as Hattusa (Bryce, 2002, p2). Today a lot of work is taking place at these sites on the supervision of German archaeologist.

Hittites chose to settle in Anatolia due to the rich source of timber and agricultural products of all kind, and more importantly an abundance of the mineral wealth which with the advance of the civilization became increasingly necessary. The mountains of Anatolia are rich in metal-deposits (MacQueen, 1986. P13-15)

Chronology remains a big problem when studying this region. Many of the dates established for the area are ultimately dependent on Egyptian sources.The Hittite history is divided into 3 phases – Old Kingdom 1680-1500, Middle Kingdom 1500-1430, Empire 1430-1200. Total collapse around 1180 BC. (Matthews, 2010)

A Hittite king was constantly inundated with decisions, as he was not only the supreme ruler, but also a judicial authority, high priest, and a military commander. All important matters in these fields had to be reported to the king. He had a large number of aristocrats and personages who possessed a significant amount of power and were assigned with vital roles in the kingdom. These men were always blood relatives of the king (Bryce, 2002, p16). Hattusili I, 1650-1620 BC was the first Hittite king to expand into north Syria, including Aleppo and Alalakh. This demonstrates the early value of access to sea and trade for Hittites as Hattusa is located rather far from the sea (Matthews, 2010). Hittite kings adopted Hatti names and were greatly inspired by Hatti civilization in their art, religion, culture and mythology (Sansal, 2010)

The army consisted of two main arms, infantry and chariots. The most important posts both in government and the army were given to the kings’ blood relatives, eldest sons and brothers. The infantry had a small core of permanent troops who acted as the king’s personal bodyguard and were responsible for frontier-patrols and the crushing of rebellions (Macqueen, 1986. P56).

Women also played an important part in the Hittites state. Queen Pudupepe, wife of Hattusili III, and the last queen of Suppiluliumas I were present in office until their husbands deaths and have been mentioned and portrayed in a number of clay tablets discovered (Gurney, 1990. P54).

About 200 Hittite laws which were inscribed on two tablets, enclose the laws of this great empire. These include punishments for agricultural defence, adultery, theft, murder, defiance in case of slaves and many other rules and punishments (Sansal, 2010). A large number of tablets have been discovered baring these laws from later periods which indicate that the same laws were kept by later kings. At the lowest level of society were slaves. A person could become a slave through debts, through indentured servitude, as punishment of a crime, or through warfare (Collin, 2007. 117). An owner appears to ave had virtually unlimited power in his treatment of his slaves Bryce, 2002. p52).

The art of fortification is an ancient one in Anatolia. A good example can be seen at the settlements in Hacilar II (c. 5400) which has an independent wall of mud brick between 1.5 and 3 m thick and provided with small towers which enabled the defenders to fire along the face of the wall. The slightly later (c. 5250) wall of Hacilar I are even bigger, and is built in a series of ‘steps’ to give a clear field for covering-fire in front of it ( Macqueen, 1986. P64). Many building had mud-brick on stone foundations, with upper storey, and some had storage for grains (Matthews, 2010)

Excavations show that streets had a strong tendency to be straight, and were usually well finished with a surface of coarse gravel. In an area where almost every site was on sloping ground, systems of terracing were constantly necessary, many streets had large drainage-channels, running down the middle and connected to lesser channels or clay pipes which carried dirty water into them from the houses on either side (Macqueen, 1986. P70)

Agriculture played an important role in the economy of the Hittites. Some of the main crops included emmer-wheat and barley but peas, beans, onions, flax, figs, olives, . Cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, dogs and were kept, and bees too were an important item (honey was important in diet). Daily diet consisted mainly of different sorts, of bread and cakes, milk, cheese, porridge or gruel, and meat and vegetable stews (Bryce, 2002, p74). There is evidence for the presence of doctors, builders, carpenters, goldsmiths, coppersmiths, potters, fishermen, and watchmen, although in many cases full-time professionals were employed only by the palace and temples (Macqueen, 1986. P97). Sometimes there is evidence for what can only be described as industrial areas, as trade played an important role in the economy and merchants from overseas visited the city often. These buildings can be especially in connection with metal-working, excavations show that these buildings could have functioned as a shop in some areas of the town.

Many seals have been discovered, but the signet-ring, like the cylinder-seal, was the exception, in the Hittite world. Newly- found seal-impressions which describe kuruntas as a ‘Great King’ suggest that he was for a time able to seize power in the capital and will thus have to be added to the list of the Hittite monarchs (Macqueen, 1986, p9, p101). Pottery of ‘Hittite’ type was in use throughout central Anatolia and in many areas affected by Hittite political or military influence. Perhaps the most attractive c type of Hittite pottery is the vessel in the form of an animal (Gurney, 1990. p163-165).

Religion played an extremely important role among the Hittites, and it was involved mainly with serving the gods which in most cases was the weather gods Collin, 2007, p173-174). The kings prayed and made offerings to gods regularly at the temples dedicated to them. The temple was not only the building in which the great festivals took place, but also the home of the god throughout the year inside it, he had his dining-room and his bedroom, and he had at his command a host of temple-servants attend to his every need (Bryce, 2002, p153). King Mursili II is best known among all the Hittite kings for his duty to gods and religion. This dedication to the gods and the vast number of temples built, was the main reason that Hattusa remained a capital throughout the years even though it was not the most ideal place to have as the centre of an empire mainly due to its extreme climate changes, the impossibility of the relocation of the gods temples made Hattusa the unchangeable capital. Most of the surviving evidence of temples relates to the official state-cult, little is known of local religious buildings, but inventories of their contents, preserved at the capital, tell us something of their furnishings and their festivals the principal object in a shrine was a cult-image of normal size, usually a weapon, an animal or a huwasi-stone, an upright Stella set on a carved base (Macqueen, 1986, p111). Only towards the end of the Imperial period were these objects beginning to be replaced by anthropomorphic images, usually the gift of the king. Small buildings used for cult purposes also existed in Hattusas itself, and several have recently been excavated in the southern part of the city.

Hittite art is basically naturalistic, in the sense that it portrays human beings, animals and occasionally objects. About three-quarters of a mile north-east of Bogazkoy lies Yazilikaya the most impressive of all Hittites religious structures. One of the gods depicted here is Teshub (Sansal, 2010). Here at a point where a spring of fresh water once flowed, is an outcrop of rock which forms two natural Chambers of different sizes the problems with interpreting the sculptures of Yazihkaya in terms of find ritual and belief have certainly not all been solved (Macqueen, 1986, P 123-127). It has been pointed out by the excavators that the temple buildings, unlike those of the capital, were weakly constructed, and cannot have supported an upper storey this suggests that they were not in daily use, but were reserved for some special function, perhaps an annual event (Bittel, 1970. P107-8)

Cremation was widespread in central Anatolia from textual resources it is known to be the funerary custom of the Hittite Kings. The ordinary people of Hattusa, however, were either buried or cremated (Bryce, 2002. P176-7). At Bogazkoy, for instance, bodies were often buried in or near the houses. Burial gifts were few and poor in quality and no social distinction can be made in terms of types or location of burial (Macqueen, 1986. P133)

Hattusa is located at the southern end of the Budakozii Valley adjacent to the stream of the same name, which has cut a large cleft into the rocks to form a natural citadel that was settled already at the end of the Early Bronze Age easily defensible, the citadel commanded a view of the entire Late Bronze Age city called Buyilkkale today (Bryce, 2002. P33). Here was located the palace, which was the residence of the king, his family, and their retinue, and, adjacent to it, the administrative buildings, including an extensive library and chancellery the oldest part of the city is located in the Lower City to the north, in the ‘area around and including the Great Temple (Bryce, 2002. P33). In this temple, priests saw to the needs of the Storm-God and Sun-Goddess, the divine couple who ruled the Hittite pantheon.

Three monumental gates are located in the southern part of the city. Each of the three gates is decorated with elaborate sculpture that helps to define their separate uses. From an artificial embankment at the highest and southernmost point of the city, known as Yerkapi, two carved sphinxes once looked down protectively upon the temple quarter the gate was accessible from the outside only by two steep, narrow staircases and so is unlikely to have been a regular point of entrance to the city. Its narrow open gateway has a shrine-like feel, and it may have served primarily as the stage for religious celebrations (Collin, 2007. P35). A large tablet uniquely made of bronze found near the Sphinx Gate contains the text of a treaty between Tudhaliyas IV and his cousin Kuruntas king of Tarhuntassa, a son of Muwatallis, and gives important geographical information on south and south-west Anatolia (Macqueen, 1986. P8-9). The Lion Gate located near Temple 3, to the southwest, so-called because of the two massive lions in stone designed to impress those entering the city, probably served as the city’s formal entrance for dignitaries and other important visitors (Collin, 2007, p35). A bronze sword of Aegean type, found outside the Lion Gate and inscribed with a dedication by Great king Tudhaliyas when he ‘shattered the Assuwa-country’, is important confirmation of the Assuwa campaign of Tudhaliyas I and of early Hittite contact with the west and the Aegean coast (Macqueen, 1986. P8-9). The King’s Gate with a deity carved in high relief on it, is believed to have been used primarily for special occasions, due to its very close distance from Temple 5. Professor Neve notes that Temple 5 with an area of 3,000 m is the biggest sacred building in the upper city (Bryce, 2002. P242-3). To the south-east of the South Citadel In Hattusa, a large sacred pool has been revealed, some 92m by 65m in area, supplied by an aqueduct from the north of the king’s Gate. At the western end of this pool is a large embankment, 100 m long and 30 m wide, under which are two barrel-vaulted chambers. One of those, built over an older water-channel, is decorated with the relief of a king and an inscription of suppiluliumas II which describes it as a ‘sacred path to the underworld’ (Macqueen, 1986. P8-9). These gates were also there to give protective aid of supernatural powers, by being designed to keep evil influences and evil men at bay.

Excavations show that in the ridge called Bulyukkaya, the Hittites built an extensive granary comprising rectangular cellars dug into the earth( Collin, 2007. P16), with a capacity to store some four to six thousand tons of grain totals, this indicated that the city prepared for siege and also for bad harvest years (Matthews, 2010). New excavations in the western part of the Upper City, dominated by Sarikale, have revealed that the area was settled already in the sixteenth century. The square structures dating to this period are thought to have been barracks for military troops, thus clearing up the mystery of where Hattusa’s defenders resided (Collin, 2007).

There is focus on the new excavations (since 2001) in the western part of the Upper City in the valley west of the rock of Sarikale, which may provide evidence of the elusive residential quarter. One major challenge remaining for excavators is to find a royal tomb (Collin, 2007. P16).

In the south-west the Shipwreck near Uluburun, east of Kas, has provided a rich cargo which includes copper, tin, gold, glass, ivory, ebony, amber, ostrich-egg shell, terebinth resin, pellets or purple murex dye, a scarab of Nefertiti, and a wooden folding writing tablet, as well as a wide assortment of jewellery, weapons, tools, weights and other equipment the wreck vastly increases our understanding of international sea-trade and also of shipbuilding techniques c. 1300 BC. (Macqueen, 1986)

The Hittite empire collapsed around 1180 BC, at end of the late Bronze Age. Early in the twelfth century, the royal capital Hattusa was destroyed by fire, and with its destruction the Anatolian kingdom of the Hittite came to an abrupt end. This occurred within the situation of the widespread upheavals linked with the fall down of many Bronze Age kingdoms throughout the Near East and mainland Greece (Bryce, 2002. P9) . This empire had a fragile political unit, perhaps due to the location of its capital and the great mixture of people living within it, which made union rather more difficult and sensitive. Harvests were failing, and grain had to be imported from as far afield as Egypt to ward off famine, which caused the empire to be on the edge. Hittites disappeared from central Anatolia but survived as small Iron Age kingdoms in the south east of Turkey and northern Syria these are the peoples referred to in the Bible, whom we call Neo-Hittites (Matthews, 2010). While Hittitology continues to be a dynamic and evolving field of study, it is nevertheless still a relatively young and relatively small field, and there is still much to learn about its people and history.

10. Make-up pioneers

Cosmetic scene of women applying kohl to the contour of their eyes, holding a mirror and instruments.

Ancient Egypt pioneered the use of make-up. Both men and women used it, primarily on the eyes and face to protect them from the harsh sun and for physical attractiveness. They also used scented oils, flowers, and herbs to create simple deodorants because they believed poor body odor offended the gods.

The green eye make-up was a pigment derived from the mineral malachite. The most popular cosmetic substance was kohl, made by mixing crushed galena ore with soot and oil to create a thick black ointment.

Mesopotamia Importance

He united both sections of Egypt to create a powerful kingdom. • The historical significance of the phrase pharaoh is that they were the people that made Egypt a wealthy and powerful kingdom. The reason was that they would be like gods, so they can make country-changing decisions that can harm or help their kingdom. • The historical importance of the term theocracy is why pharaohs were essential people in the Egyptian Kingdom. They were important people since pharaohs have the respect as a God and the Egyptian government’s rule is based on religious authority.&hellip

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