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Hittites

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The Hittites were a people in central Asia Minor, who at their height controlled Asia Minor and Mesopotamia (today's central, eastern and southern Turkey and northern Syria) in the 2nd millennium B.C. Although they came from many diverse ethnic and linguistic backgrounds, the Hittites shared a common culture and eventually adopted an Indo-European language known as nasili, spoken by the dominant group. Today this language is known as Hittite.

The beginnings of the Hittite civilisation has been traced to the "merchant colonies" established by the Assyrians in Asia Minor. From this contact the existing inhabitants of the area obtained technologies such as cuneiform writing and the use of the cylinder seal. The largest Assyrian colony was established at Kültepe (Karum Kanesh).

The survival of the Hittites' royal archives have enabled us to reconstruct much of their past. They apparently emerged as a small city-state named Kussara, which has yet to be identified by archeologists. Under king Anittas, the Hittite state grew to encompass the cities of Kanesh and Hattush[?], which was capital at the zenith of Hittite power. Located near the Turkish village of Bogazköy in central Anatolia, Hattush can still be visited today.

The founding of the Hittite Empire is usually attributed to Hattusilis I, who conquered the plain south of Hattush, all the way to the outskirts of modern-day Aleppo in Syria. Though it remained for his heir, Mursilis I, to conquer that city, Hattusilis was clearly influenced by the rich culture he discovered in northern Mesopotamia and founded a school in his capital to spread the cuneiform style of writing he encountered there.

Mursilis continued the conquests of Hattusilis, reaching down Mesopotamia and threatening Babylonia itself. This lengthy campaign, however, strained the country's resources and left the capital in a state of near-anarchy. Mursilis was assassinated shortly after his return home, and the Hittite Empire was plunged into chaos. The Hurrians, a people living in the mountainous region along the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers, took advantage of the situation to seize Aleppo and the surrounding areas for themselves.

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Their prosperity was largely depending on the control of trade routes and metal sources. For this reason, all the kings' reigns passed mainly by struggles and wars with neighbouring Assyrians, Hurrians and Egyptians, especially when Hittites began to extend their control to Mesopotomia. Not surprisingly, they signed the earliest surviving treaty in history with Egyptians known as Kadesh (or Qadesh) treaty (about 1286-1300 B.C.) after endless and unsuccessful fights against Egyptian forces commanded by Ramses II. After this date their power began to diminish temporarily and they were pushed back by Assyrians and Egyptians. However, the end of the kingdom came from the assaults of nomadic and warrior tribes migrating from Northern territories. The Hittite people, language and culture remained as late as 5th century A.D., as they went on living as discrete and diverse small independent states in central and southeastern Anatolia.

 
Old Hittite Kingdom (1750-1500 B.C.) Hattusas became the capital

Middle Hittite Kingdom (1500-1450 B.C.)

New Hittite Kingdom (Empire) (1450-1180 B.C.) Suppiluliumas I conquers Syria, Mutawalli attacks Egyptians (Kadesh)

Appearances in Bible (e.g. buying the Machpelah cave in Hebron, Genesis 23)

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