The Hittites

By Tim Lambert 

The Hittites lived in what is now Turkey. They moved to Turkey about 2,000 BC and at first, they were divided into separate states. However about 1,650 BC, they were united by King Labarnas. The Hittites were a powerful and warlike people. About 1595 BC they captured Babylon. Later the Hittites fought against Egypt. The Hittites reached a peak under King Suppiluliumas (c. 1380 – c. 1346 BC). Under him, the Hittites ruled not just most of Turkey but also parts of Syria and Palestine.

Some Hittite warriors fought on foot but others fought from chariots, which were pulled by teams of horses. Hittite chariots were light enough to be lifted by one man. Each had a driver and a soldier, who often wore iron armor. Hittite archers shot bronze-tipped arrows.

The Hittite capital was at Hattushash. In it, there were many temples. Like other ancient peoples, the Hittites were polytheists (they worshiped many gods). Chief among them was the weather god Tarhun and his wife Istanu. There were many other gods and goddesses each of whom ruled some natural phenomena.

However, the mighty Hittite state broke down about 1,200 BC when people from the Aegean attacked it called the ‘Sea Peoples’. However individual Hittites appeared later in history. According to the Old Testament, King David had a Hittite general called Uriah. David arranged for him to be murdered. (I Samuel 6:19-20).

Nevertheless, in time the Hittites were largely forgotten. The Hittite culture was rediscovered in 1905 when a German archaeologist named Hugo Winckler excavated the Hittite capital at Hattusas. Among his finds were 25,000 clay tablets.