A Civilization That Changed the World
If you’ve ever read the Old Testament, you’ve heard about the Hittites because they are mentioned over 50 times there. They were a defiant and proud group of men and women who ruled the near East and changed the ancient world. These mighty warriors vanquished armies and destroyed empires. Their kings fought the Pharaohs in some of the greatest battles recorded in history.
The Hittite dynasty expanded quickly to become the first great kingdom of Asia Minor. Their civilization formed the link between the Ancient East and West and their mythology influenced Greek and Roman literature as well as the Bible. Yet the empire of the Hittites was forgotten for over three thousand years until impressive archeological discoveries brought their story to light.
Asia Minor is known today as Anatolia; a region found in Turkey that is surrounded by Greece in the West, Iran, and Iraq in the East, Syria in the South, and Russia in the North. In 1834, a French archeologist was exploring a region within Anatolia when he discovered the ruins of a large ancient city. The mysterious city had many walls with strange hieroglyphic inscriptions. However, the archeological community showed very little interest in the finding. Forty years later, similar drawings turned up in different parts of Anatolia. They pointed to a civilization with a vast territory that went from Western Turkey to Northern Syria.
In 1876 another archeologist announced to the Society of Biblical Archeology that he had been able to partially decipher one of the stone reliefs that had been found. He stated that the inscriptions belonged to the Hittites. This news stunned the academics because, except for a few passing references in the Bible, the Hittites were unknown. Add to that the fact that their size and political reach was vastly understated.
In 1906 an excavation team began digging for more, and within a few years, they had excavated over ten thousand tablets and fragments. Throughout 1915 an expert in cuneiform worked to decipher the writings and in so doing, deciphered the oldest known Indo-European language. One tablet even turned out to be a peace treaty with Egypt that was about three thousand years old. Among the writings that were deciphered were rituals, laws, prayers, treaties and much more. Each new writing that was discovered shed a light on their culture and customs.
The deciphered texts revealed that Bogazkale was no ordinary Hittite city. It was their capital and its ancient name was Hattusa. In a short time, the Hittites conquered land in Eastern Anatolia and Northern Syria. Any state that surrendered without a fight was spared plunder and devastation. But those that resisted received the full fury of the Hittite army. Although the Hittites assimilated the cultures of the many peoples they conquered, their roots remained in their Hattian origins.
And so after a silence that lasted 3,000 years, the Hittite men and women were finally ready to tell their story. Watch this film now.