Anatolia Bronze Age

bronze age



The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in central Anatolia. The group was documented at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad (c. 2300 BC), until it was gradually absorbed c. 2000–1700 BC by the Indo-European Hittites, who were subsequently associated with the "land of Hatti".

Land of Hatti

The region was known as `Land of the Hatti' from c. 2350 BCE until 630 BCE, attesting to the influence of the Hattian culture there. They spoke a language called Hattic and did not seem to have a written language of their own, using cuneiform script for trade dealings. As the region was heavily forested, the Hatti built their homes of wood and made their living through trade of timber, ceramics, and other resources. Their religion focused on the worship of a Mother Goddess. They kept domesticated animals and made clothing and blankets from sheep's wool. As an agrarian society, they also domesticated the fields and planted grains which they primarily lived on but also supplemented their diet through hunting. Since their religion was based on the concept that everything in nature was sacred and possessed a divine spirit, however, it does not seem that hunting for meat was a common practice and may have only been engaged in for specific festivals.

The expanded Hittite Empire (red) replaces Hatti c. 1290 BC and borders the Egyptian kingdom (green)

The oldest name for central Anatolia, "Land of the Hatti", was found on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of Sargon the Great of Akkad c. 2350–2150 BC: on those tablets Assyrian-Akkadian traders implored King Sargon for help. This appellation continued to exist for about 1,500 years until 630 BC, as stated in Assyrian chronicles. According to later Hittite documents, Sargon the Great had fought with the Luwian king Nurdaggal of Burushanda, while Sargon's successor Naram-Sin of Akkad had battled Pamba, king of Hatti and 16 other confederates.

The use of the word "Proto-Hittite" to refer to Hattians is inaccurate. Hittite (natively known as Nešili, "[in the language] of Neša") is an Indo-European language, linguistically distinct from the Hattians. The Hittites continued to use the term Land of Hatti for their new kingdom. The Hattians eventually merged with people who spoke Indo-European languages like Hittite, Luwian, and Palaic.

Approximate extent of Hittite rule, c. 1350–1300 BC, with Arzawa rule and Lukkans to the west, and Mitanni rule to the southeast.


The Hattians were organised in city-states and small kingdoms or principalities. These cities were well organized and ruled as theocratic principalities.

Controlling a significant number of city states, they had established lucrative trade with the region of Sumer (southern Mesopotamia) by the year 2700 BCE. The historian Erdal Yavuz writes:

Anatolia offered a mild climate with reliable and regular rainfall necessary for a regular agricultural production. Besides the timber and stone essential for construction, but deficient in Mesopotamia, Anatolia had rich mines which provided copper, silver, iron, and gold.

Their trade with the cities of Mesopotamia enriched the region and helped to develop their "kingdom". The historian Marc Van De Mieroop includes the Hatti among the "nations" and "nation-states" in the diplomatic and trade consortium he refers to as The Club of the Great Powers. This `club', as Van De Mieroop designates it, included Mitanni, Babylonia, Assyria, Hatti, and Egypt, though by the time Kingdom of the Hatti was involved with international relations (c. 1500-1200 BCE), they were governed by the Hittites.

In 2500 BCE the Hatti established their capital high on a hill at the city of Hattusa and held lands securely in the surrounding areas, administering laws and regulating trade in a number of neighboring states.  Between c. 2334-2279 BCE the great Sargon of Akkad invaded the region after sacking the city of Ur in 2330 BCE. He then turned his attention to Hattusa but failed to gain an advantage over the city’s defenses which were especially strong in that it was located high on a well-defended and fortified plateau. Following Sargon’s campaigns in the region, his grandson Naram-Sin (2261-2224 BCE) continued his policies, fighting against the Hattic King Pamba late in the 23rd century BCE with as little success as his grandfather had. In spite of the constant harrassment from the Akkadians, Hattic art flourished around 2200 BCE and, by 2000 BCE, their civilization was at its height with prosperous trading colonies established between Hattusa and their other city of Kanesh and, of course, continuing trade relations with Mesopotamia.

In 1700 BCE, the Kingdom of the Hatti was again invaded, this time by the Hittites, and the great city of Hattusa was stormed and destroyed by a king named Anitta from the neighboring Kingdom of Kussara. Excavations at the site show that the city was burned to the ground. King Anitta had such contempt for the city he had vanquished that he cursed the ground and further cursed whoever should re-build Hattusa and try to rule there. Even so, not long after, the city was re-built and re-populated by a later king of Kussara who called himself Hattusili.  Van De Mieroop describes this, writing:

A ruler called Hattusili created the Hittite state in the early or mid-seventeenth century. Heir to the throne of Kussara, he rapidly defeated his competitors in central Anatolia. Among his conquests was the city of Hattusa, located in the center of the region in a strategic and well-protected site thanks to its position on a hilltop. He made Hattusa his capital, and possibly changed his name to coincide with that of the city.

The name Hattusili means `One from Hattusa' but it is not clear whether the king took that name after the reconstruction of the city or he was already known by that designation. Through the famous document, The Edict of Telepinu (16th century BCE), which was a stipulation of laws and ordinances based on past precedents, modern scholars have learned much of the history of the rulers of the Old Kingdom of the Hittites (as Hatti is referenced) and know that Hattusili I was also known as `Man of Kussara'. It is likely, therefore, that he took his new name once he had occupied Hattusa. As there remain a scarcity of records from this period, scholars disagree over when Hattusili I took his name or why. It is also not known whether the city was re-built after Anitta's conquest (and therefore Hattusili had to take it by force) or if Hattusili simply occupied the site and built on the ruins of the old city.

The lands of the Hatti were systematically conquered by the Hittites and the people merged into the culture of their conquerors. The Hittites were known as the Nesili to themselves and their contemporaries and the name `Hittite' comes from the Hebrew scribes who wrote the biblical narratives of the Old Testament. They may have migrated to the region or, more probably, lived alongside the Hatti for many years before hostilities between the two peoples began. By 1650 BCE, the Hittites, under Hattusili I, defeated the last of the Hatti resistance and rose to complete dominance of the area. The Hatti region of Anatolia, however, was still known as the 'Land of the Hatti' until 630 BCE, as is known from references found in the writings of both the Egyptians and the Assyrians. The importance of the Land of the Hatti in international relations is attested to by The Amarna Letters, cuneiform tablets found in the late 19th century CE in Amarna, Egypt, which are correspondence between the Egyptian Pharoah  and the kings of Mitanni, Babylonia, Assyria, and Hatti. Van De Mieroop writes:

The kings saw themselves as equals and addressed each other as brothers. They discussed diplomatic matters, especially the exchange of precious goods and of royal women, which reinforced the ties between them. While most of the letters were written in Babylonian, there were two in Hittite and one each in Hurrian and Assyrian. These Amarna letters cover a short period of at most thirty years from ca. 1365 to 1335, but it is certain that this type of correspondence was maintained throughout the period at several locations.


Some scholars thought that Hattians and Hittites had perhaps different personal characteristics, though most Anatolian societies in the Bronze Age were multi-lingual. Egyptian depictions of the Battle of Kadesh reportedly show long-nosed Hattian soldiers, while their Hittite leaders looked different according to Turkish archaeologist Ekrem Akurgal.

The artistic renderings from Hatti at this time depict the common people with longer noses and markedly different facial features than those of their leaders, clearly demonstrating the Hittite lords and their Hattic vassals.


The Hattian spoke Hattic, a non-Indo-European language of uncertain affiliation. Hattic is now believed by some scholars to be related to the Northwest Caucasian language group. Trevor Bryce writes:

Evidence of a 'Hattic' civilization is provided by the remnants of one of the non-Indo-European languages found in the later Hittite archives.The language is identified in several of the texts in which it appears by the term hattili- '(written) in the language of Hatti.' The few texts that survive are predominantly religious or cultic in character. They provide us with the names of a number of Hattic deities, as well as Hattic personal and place-names.

About 150 short specimens of Hattian text have been found in Hittite cuneiform clay tablets. Hattian leaders perhaps used scribes who wrote in Old Assyrian. Ekrem Akurgal wrote, "the Anatolian princes used scribes knowing Assyrian for commerce with Mesopotomia as at Kanesh (Kültepe)" to conduct business with Assyria. From the 21st to the mid-18th centuries BC, Assyria established trade outposts in Hatti, such as at Hattum and Zalpa.

Scholars have long assumed that the predominant population of the region of Anatolia "in the third millennium [BC] was an indigenous pre-Indo-European group called the Hattians." But it is thought possible that speakers of Indo-European languages were also in central Anatolia by then. The scholar Petra Goedegebuure has proposed that before the conquest of the Hittites, an Indo-European language, probably Luwian, had already been spoken alongside the Hattic language for a long time.

Hattian became more ergative towards the New Hittite period. This development implies that Hattian remained alive until at least the end of the 14th century BC.



It is generally assumed that the Hittites came into Anatolia some time before 2000 BC. While their earlier location is disputed, it has been speculated by scholars for more than a century that the Kurgan cultures of the Pontic Steppe, in present-day Ukraine, around the Sea of Azov spoke an early Indo-European language during the third and fourth millennia BC.

The arrival of the Hittites in Anatolia in the Bronze Age was one of a superstrate imposing itself on a native culture (in this case over the pre existing Hattians and Hurrians), either by means of conquest or by gradual assimilation. In archaeological terms, relationships of the Hittites to the Ezero culture of the Balkans and Maikop culture of the Caucasus have been considered within the migration framework. The Indo-European element at least establishes Hittite culture as intrusive to Anatolia in scholarly mainstream (excepting the opinions of Colin Renfrew, whose Anatolian hypothesis assumes that Indo-European is indigenous to Anatolia, and, more recently, Quentin Atkinson.

The land of Hatti, located in central Anatolia, was the heartland of the Hittite Kingdom. The people of the Late Bronze Age Hittite Kingdom described themselves as the “People of the Land of Hatti,” but this name provides little help in the understanding of the dominate culture of the region. Indeed, the evidence is ambiguous as to whether any culture could be considered dominant. The population of this region was diverse, a portion was indigenous but there were also Luwians from the Aegean Coast, Syrians and Hurrians from Mesopotamia as well as others from around the Near East.

The Lion Gate of Hattusa

One explanation for how such a mixed people of different cultures and languages could be unified is revealed in their name. By denoting the geographical region, “Land of Hatti” when they spoke of themselves demonstrates that the region itself may have given them their collective identity. So that, regardless of their many backgrounds, the people who lived in the Land of Hatti were able to come together under their kings and forge an enduring legacy.

The Hittite Empire at its height around 1300 BCE

Imperial Legacy

During the height of the Hittite Empire’s power they would enter into an epic struggle with the Egypt. First the Hittites, led by their great conqueror, Suppililiuma, would topple Egypt’s long time ally in Syria, the Hurrian Kingdom of Mitanni. Then there was a rare moment in history. With the death of the pharaoh Tutankhamun in 1322 BCE Egypt’s 18th Dynasty was near collapse. In desperation the widowed Queen Ankesenamun reached out to the Hittite king, seeking one of his sons as a new husband.

The message from Ankesenamun reached the Hittite King as he oversaw the final stages of the siege of Carchemish, the last Mitanni stronghold. For a moment Suppililiuma held the Near East in his imperial grip but as fate would have it ultimate victory would slip through his fingers leaving the region to be ravaged by war for the next 50 years.

The Hittite copy of the treaty with Egypt

Finally, following the famous Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE, the Hittites and Egyptians would reconcile and sign one of the most notable treaties of all antiquity. However it was too late. In the East the Assyrians had become so strong that they could not be denied their own imperial destiny and from the West the chaos that history has labeled the “Sea Peoples” was about to descend. Over a period of centuries the Hittite Empire would diminish and then fade. Only to be found again by Texier’s Anatolian questing.


Ramesses II storming the Hittite fortress of Dapur



Teshub / Tarḫunz - Theispas

The Hurrians (Ḫu-ur-ri; also called Hari, Khurrites, Hourri, Churri, Hurri or Hurriter) were a people of the Bronze Age Near East. They spoke a Hurro-Urartian language called Hurrian and lived in Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. The largest and most influential Hurrian nation was the kingdom of Mitanni, the Mitanni perhaps being Indo-Iranian speakers who formed a ruling class over the Hurrians. The population of the Indo-European-speaking Hittite Empire in Anatolia included a large population of Hurrians, and there is significant Hurrian influence in Hittite mythology. By the Early Iron Age, the Hurrians had been assimilated with other peoples. Their remnants were subdued by a related people that formed the state of Urartu.  The present-day Armenians are an amalgam of the Indo-European groups with the Hurrians and Urartians.


Urartu - Mjedeno more - π

A Urartian cauldron

Tada od rastaljene kovine izli more koje je od ruba do ruba mjerilo deset lakata; bilo je okruglo naokolo, pet lakata visoko, a u opsegu, mjereno vrpcom, imalo je trideset lakata. Pod rubom mu bijahu uresi kao cvjetne čaške koje su ga optakale sasvim: po deset na lakat optakale su more unaokolo; cvjetne su čaške bile u dva reda i salivene s njim. Počivalo je na dvanaest volova: tri su gledala na sjever, tri na zapad, tri na jug, a tri na istok; more je stajalo na njima i svi su stražnjim dijelom bili okrenuti unutra. Bilo je debelo pedalj, rub mu kao rub u čaše, kao cvijet, a moglo je primiti tri tisuće bata. - 1. Kraljevima

Wall painting Urartu

Bronze Bull Head from Urartu

Urartian Horse Mural Fragment

Urartu Deity & Bull


The Hurrian Kingdom of Mitanni

During the 18th century BCE the Hurrians were one of many tribes that lived along the borders of the Babylonian Empire, slowly absorbing elements of its culture. This empire entrenched the use of Akkadian as the international language of diplomacy and grew wealthy from the trade routes that it controlled. Almost immediately upon Hammurabi’s death around 1686 BCE the empire began to unravel. Then almost a century later, in one of the boldest military moves of the age, the Hittite king Mursili I marched his armies from Anatolia down the Euphrates and sacked the ancient city of Babylon, capital of the diminished empire.

The Hittites made no attempt to consolidate control outside of Anatolia at that time and the lands of Mesopotamia fell into a period of political chaos. Within a few generations two new peoples had emerged on the scene taking advantage of the fall of Babylonian authority. One group was known as the Kassites and they would move in from the eastern frontier and establish a new Babylonian dynasty in southern Iraq that would last nearly 600 years.

The other group that would take advantage of Mursili’s raid were the Hurrians. With a society built around a chariot warrior elite the Hurrians would for a time dominate the ancient Near East. During the Middle and Late Bronze Age much of Syria and Iraq came to be united under the rule of a Hurrian dynasty of kings known as the Mitanni. By controlling the trade routes of northern Mesopotamia the Mitanni kings had become a major power in the region.

The Great Kingdoms

Early Hittite Records

Around 1560 BCE the Hittite King Hattushili I, Mursili’s father, marched his armies out of Anatolia to the southeast intent on expanding his control over the trade routes of Syria. As the Hittites took control of the city of Alalakh in western Syria a new force of Hurrians was uniting to the east of the Euphrates River. When the Hittites moved against the city of Urshu they were less successful. Although the Hittites laid siege to Urshu, the city’s allies, including the Hurrians, managed to keep the city supplied and eventually Hattushili was forced to withdraw.

This account in the Hittite records is the first mention of the Hurrians organized as a united people. It is possible that this time period can be connected with the doings of the legendary King Kirta. If this correlation can be made then the first King of Mitanni, Suttarna son of Kirta, can be placed as having ruled around 1550 BCE. Suttarna’s son Paratarma is thought to have consolidated Mitanni control over Syria between 1530 and 1480 BCE after Mursili’s raid on Babylon.

Mitanni versus Egypt

Paratarma had ruled for around 30 years when the Egyptian King Tuthmoses I (1506–1493 BCE) marched his armies northward into Syria. It is possible that Tuthmoses defeated the Mitanni army near the Euphrates River. However the Egyptians were unable to maintain control over central Syria and within a generation a new Mitanni King, Paratarma’s son, Saushtatar (1480-1430 BCE?) was busy rebuilding his kingdom. By 1470 BCE the Kingdom of Mitanni was at its height of power. King Suashtatar controlled territory from Kizzuwadna in southern Anatolia to the west and to the Zagros mountains in the East. Most of the minor kings in Canaan now looked to the Mitanni king as overlord as did the Assyrian king in Ashur on the banks of the Tigris.

Saushtatar’s royal seal

In the year 1457 BCE an alliance of Canaanite and South Syrian rulers formed to contest the might of Egypt. Although nominally led by the King of Kadesh, it is likely that this alliance was orchestrated by the Mitanni Kingdom to the north. The struggle likely ensued as several minor kings chose to end their allegiance to the Egyptian pharaoh in the hopes of better opportunities under a Mitanni king. The alliance gathered a considerable chariot force at Megiddo but was never able to take further action.

The Egyptian pharaoh Tuthmoses III (1479-1425 BCE) upon hearing of the alliance arrayed against him marched with all possible speed and defeated his enemies in first Battle of Megiddo. The Mitanni vassals were routed and fled to behind the city walls. Tuthmoses III was decisive in his victory. Over a decade long period he conquered Canaan in a series of yearly campaigns. Tuthmoses was able to eventually conquer Kadesh in southern Syria opening the way for a direct confrontation with Mitanni.

Alliance With Egypt

By 1430 BCE a new Mitanni king named Artatarma was on the throne. Within a few decades a long-term peace was finally reached with the Egyptians. It is likely that the growing strength of the Hittites to the north in Anatolia motivated this alliance.

Ruins of a Mitanni palace at Tel-Brak in eastern Syria

Around the year 1400 BCE Artatarma’s son Shuttarna II became king of Mitanni. In an effort to firm up the alliance with Egypt one of Shuttarna’s daughters was sent to Egypt to marry the pharaoh Tuthmoses IV(1401-1391 BCE). Artatarma’s and Tuthmose’s heirs repeated this marriage alliance a generation later when Shuttarna II’s son Artashumara sent his daughter to wed the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III.

The Egyptian-Mitanni alliance saw a period of peace and prosperity that lasted for several generations as trade and diplomacy came to be preferred over war. This tranquility was disrupted after half a century by the assassination of the Mitanni king. With the death of the rightful ruler the kingdom would begin a slow fall into a chaos from which it could not emerge.

The Downfall of the Mitanni Dynasty

The internal strife within the Mitanni Kingdom would, for a time, undermine the relationship with Egypt. In the Amarna archive is a letter sent by King Tushratta of Mitanni (ca. 1372-1324 B.C.E.) to the pharaoh Akhenaten, (ca1353-1335 B.C.E.) attempting to rekindle his alliance with Egypt. This letter, Amarna Letter 17 (EA 17), can be dated to around 1350 BCE and is one of the only sources available that sheds any light on the inner workings of the Mitanni Kingdom in this period.

Tushratta’s letter to Akhenaten

As revealed in the ancient text it was during the early years of the 14th century when Tushratta’s father, Shuttarna II (ca. 1415-1390 B.C.E.) had entered into a marriage alliance with Egypt . It was Tushratta’s elder brother, Artashumara, who first succeed his father to the throne, but he was soon toppled by an internal coup and assassinated. The villain, named UD-hi, then placed the young prince Tushratta on the throne.

According to Tushratta, UD-hi prevented him from “friendship with anyone who loved me.” This is an apparent reference to the diplomatic strictures that were now in place, given the illegal nature of the Mittani regime. Considering the intermarriage between the two royal households, it appears that Egypt would not tolerate the murdering of in-laws to the pharaoh. Commerce between the two kingdoms dried up along with diplomatic contact following the death of Artashumara. It is only after Tushratta came of age and UD-hi was dead that the young king once again communicated with Egypt.

Tushratta Attempts To Renew An Alliance With Egypt

In his letter to Akhenaten, Tushratta writes to remind the pharaoh how, in the past, there had been a close friendship between the two kingdoms. The Mitanni king recalls that even now his sister resides in Egypt as a wife of the Pharaoh. Furthermore, the original purpose of the alliance had once again become relevant, since after a long time of remaining in Anatolia, the Hittites were once again on the move southward into Syria.

Tushratta writes telling the pharaoh that the year after he had restored legitimate rule to his land, the Hittites invaded. This encounter can either be read as an account of a minor raid by the Hittites or as a full scale invasion, the letter is unclear. Either way, Tushratta claim’s victory and announces to the Egyptian king that none of the enemy returned home alive. As a token of friendship with Egypt, and as proof of this account, Tushratta sends along with his letter a Hittite chariot, a team of horses and two slaves as a sample of his booty gained from the battle.

In the letter Tushratta continues by listing his “greeting gifts.” For the pharaoh he sends another five chariots and five teams of horses. As a way of making his point about the friendship between the two kingdom’s, Tushratta sends along several additional “greeting gifts” for his sister, the pharaoh’s wife Gildukhepa.

If Tushratta feared his kingdom was at the brink of a serious war and needed strong allies, then he was correct. In the end, although Egypt would renew its friendship with Mitanni, it would not be enough to stop the kingdom’s destruction. Within a few decades of Tushratta’s having written to the Pharaoh, the Kingdom of Mitanni would be no more.

The kingdom’s downfall would be primarily due to the conquests of the Hittite king Suppililiuma. Over the period of a decade or more the Hittite king conducted a series of campaigns that at first diminished then toppled the Mitanni dynasty. He would then put Tushratta’s son Shattizawa on the throne of a new Hurrian vassal kingdom that the Hittite king envisioned as a buffer against the growing might of Assyria.