The Hittite Empire from Textual Evidence

Theo van den Hout

in The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195376142
Published online November 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199940127 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Hittite Empire from Textual Evidence

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The Hittite written legacy is unique in the ancient Near East in that it allows us to sketch the development of a major power over the course of its almost 500 years of history from a state of basic illiteracy through incipient literacy to a booming administrative apparatus which has earned it the reputation of a true bureaucracy. It was a state with two scripts: the cuneiform used for its inner administrative workings in the widest sense of the word, with the Hittite language as its official medium, and the Anatolian hieroglyphs for the state's face to the outside. This article presents a review of the Hittite texts, describing the contradictory information that is sometimes provided by multiple texts on the same subjects. It also draws out the nuanced understanding that scholars may gain regarding, for instance, royal intentions and goals, the pomp and circumstance of ritual, or the intricacy of ancient law through their close readings of the some 30,000 extant Hittite texts.

Keywords: Hittite texts; Hittite language; Anatolian hieroglyphs

Article.  6036 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology of the Near East

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