Rediscovering the Lost Empire of the Ancient Hittites
In the 14th and 13th centuries BC, Hatti, the Late Bronze Age Hittites kingdom, held the greatest political and military power in the ancient Near East. And then it vanished! Situated near what is now northern Turkey, about 160 kilometres east of Ankara, its territories stretched from Turkey’s western coast and southwards through Syria to the Damascus borders. What really happened to this thriving civilisation?
Unraveling the Hittites Mystery
Ongoing archaeological excavations at the 180-hectare site of the capital continue to produce important discoveries. Archaeologists have recently completed a major rebuilding project in Hattusa and have unearthed previously unknown sites in the kingdom. Over the last 100 years, a civilization lost to us for 2,000 years has dramatically reappeared before us.
The Hittites history and civilization is recorded on thousands of tablets, found mainly in the royal capital but also in many provincial centres of the kingdom. The Hittites language, deciphered during the First World War, revealed itself a member of the Indo-European language family. Therefore, it is related to Sanskrit, ancient Greek, Latin, and many modern languages – including English! (For example, the Hittite word for ‘water’ is ‘watar’.)
The clay tablet texts containing the Hittite language have revealed to us vast range information about the Hittites. They include mythological and religious texts, festival and ritual texts, accounts of a king’s military triumphs, a complete set of 200 laws, and letters between a king and his chief officials and subject rulers. Treaties found in Hattusa reveal the volatile relations between the Hittite king and his Bronze Age peers, the rulers of Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt, as do the letters written by the four Kings to each other.
Professor Trevor Bryce from The University of Queensland will tell the stories of this once lost empire in ‘Rediscovering the Lost Empire of the ancient Hittites’ on Saturday 21st April from 2.00pm at the Abbey Museum. His presentation is followed by questions and afternoon tea, around 4.oopm.
Don’t miss out on this intriguing event. Get your tickets here.