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TURKEY   >  HISTORY   >> Prehistoric Period
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Neolithic Age Bronze Age
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Bronze Age (3000-1200 BC)

The Bronze Age in Anatolia starts with the use of bronze, a mixture of tin and copper. The people of this age made all their weapons, utensils and ornaments from this alloy. In addition to bronze they also used copper, gold, silver and electron; an alloy of gold and silver.

A great advance in metallurgy is notable during this age, especially from the rich finds of gold, silver, bronze and copper excavated. Various vessels, jewelry, bull and stag statuettes, ritual standards, sun-dials (as symbols of the universe) and musical instruments were discovered in the burial chambers of Alacahoyuk. The bull figure plays an important role as a link between the Neolithic and the Hittite religions. Thus, the roots of Hatti and later Hittite religious belief may be inferred as extending as far back as the Neolithic Age in Anatolia.

Men were buried with weapons, women with ornaments and toiletry articles as well as domestic vessels and utensils, many of them in precious metals. The tombs themselves were rectangular pits enclosed by rough stone walls and roofed with timber.


The Hatti or Hattians were a race of indigenous people who lived in Central Anatolia. As they lived in the prehistoric age before writing was introduced to Anatolia their name has come through Hittite sources. The Hatti gave their name to Anatolia, which was then called the land of the Hatti. Even the Hittites called their own kingdom the land of the Hatti.

The influence of the Hatti civilization is apparent in Hittite religious rites, state and court ceremonies and their mythology. Although they lacked a native written tradition, these people had reached an advanced intellectual level; a richness and sophistication of their own Anatolian culture. They developed true polychrome pottery and also monumental architecture; for example, the 60-room ground level palace at the Kultepe site. The bronze Hatti sun-disc, with its radial lobes representing the planets, shows the complexity of their cosmic views.


This period is also known as the Middle Bronze Age during which the old Assyrian state in Mesopotamia established a trading system with Anatolia. In this period Anatolia was divided into feudal city states ruled by indigenous Hattians. They established markets out of cities each of which was called "karum". There were 20 of these karums ruled by one central market, Kanis, located in Kültepe. They paid tax and rent and in return, security was granted by local rulers. Caravans were employed which generally brought tin, perfumes and ornaments in exchange for goods made of silver and gold.

Written history started in Anatolia with the introduction of the Assyrian language, the cuneiform script and the use of cylinder seals by the Assyrian traders.

The tablets which date back to this period are written in cuneiform script in the language of old Assyria. They are written, baked, put into envelopes and then sealed by re-baking; an example of the first use of envelopes in the world. Most of the tablets are about trading activities with some about private lives of people of this age.

"The figurative symbolism has been one of the most revealing aspects of the finds at Kultepe, because it emphasizes the existence of an authentic and indigenous Anatolian culture persisting through the vicissitudes of migration and political change. A fully developed Anatolian iconography persisted into later centuries, reappearing almost unchanged in the art of the Hittites."


The Hittites are a people mentioned frequently in the Bible (Old Testament). They were immigrant people who arrived in Anatolia in 2000 BC. It took them 250 years to establish a kingdom in central Anatolia after 1750 BC and their powerful Empire flourished in the 14-13CBC until it was destroyed in 1200 BC by the Sea Peoples.

When the Hittites, who lived north of the Black Sea, migrated into Anatolia that region was already occupied by native people, the Hattians. Their arrival and diffusion had been peaceful and accompanied by intermarriage and alliance with the natives. So well did the Hittites integrate themselves into the local culture of central Anatolia that they even adopted the worship of several native deities.

Hittites named their own state as the land of the Hatti. As Naim Turfan argues, this does not show the tolerance of the conquering Hittites, but their meeting of a much higher level of civilization than their own. For approximately 600 years they continued this habit of borrowing from wherever it suited them.

Another argument by language archeologist, Renfrew claims in 1987 that Indo-European languages derived not from the Russian plains but from Anatolia. The Neolithic people of Anatolia carried their languages together with their plows to Europe and India. In this case the language of the Hittites did not need to come from somewhere, on the contrary, Hittites spoke Anatolian languages. So far Renfrew's argument has been undisputed.

It is generally accepted that Anitta founded the Hittite State in the 18CBC. Hattusilis I established his capital in the fortress city of Hattusha (Bogazkoy), which remained the principal Hittite administrative center. From a strategic point, Hattusha formed an easily defensible mountain stronghold. Hattusilis I's campaigns were into northwestern Syria and eastward across the Euphrates River to Mesopotamia. Control of that region was to become a permanent objective of the Hittites in order to increase their economic power.

It remained for Suppiluliumas I (1380-1346 BC), an energetic and successful campaigner, to restore Hittite control in Anatolia and effectively extend the borders of his kingdom to the south and east. His major accomplishments were the defeat of Mitanni and conquests in Syria, including the capture of the powerful city-state of Kargamis. His period saw the Empire at its peak, but even so during that time the Hittite Empire was never a single, political unit. Hittite penetration into Syria brought the newly revived state into conflict with Egypt. A major battle between the Hittites under Muwattalis and the Egyptian King Ramses II was fought at Kadesh on the Orontes River c.1286BC with victory going to the Hittites. They were realistic enough to recognize the limits of their power and far-sighted enough to appreciate the value of peace and an alliance with Egypt. Although there was no real victor in this battle, each side claimed to have won.

The battle was one of the first in history of which a tactical description has survived. The Hittite specialist O. R. Gurney summarizes the Egyptian text as follows:

"The Hittite army based on Kadesh succeeded in completely concealing its position from the Egyptian scouts and as the unsuspecting Egyptians advanced in marching order towards the city and started to pitch their camp, a strong detachment of Hittite chariotry passed round unnoticed behind the city, crossed the river Orontes and fell upon the center of the Egyptian column with shattering force. The Egyptian army would have been annihilated, had not a detached Egyptian regiment arrived most opportunely from another direction and caught the Hittites unawares as they were pillaging the camp. This lucky chance enabled the Egyptian king to save the remainder of his forces and to represent the battle as a great victory."

The Peace Treaty of Kadesh between Hattusilis III and Ramses II insured peace between the Hittites and Egypt on the southern border of the Empire (1284BC). It is accepted as the first recorded international treaty in the world. The ratification of the treaty was followed by a cordial exchange of letters, not only between the two kings but also from one queen to another. Thirteen years later a daughter of Hattusilis was married to the Egyptian Pharaoh.

In Anatolia, the old pattern of unrest and revolt presented continuing dangers for the Hittite state, as vassals sought to reassert their independence. Beset by both internal and external pressures, the Hittites were unable to resist the onslaught of the Sea Peoples, who overran Anatolia about 1200BC.

Hittite Culture

In addition to the cuneiform script imported from Mesopotamia, the Hittites also used a picture writing form (hieroglyphs) which can be seen on their seals and public monuments. Their rapid adoption of a new cuneiform script made the Hittites the first known literate civilization of Anatolia.

Hittite culture was an amalgamation of native Anatolian and Hurrian elements in religion, literature and art. The scribes of imperial Hattusha were familiar with Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian texts and perhaps to some extent with Egyptian materials as well. Hittite culture thus drew to itself a representative sampling of the cosmopolitan perspectives of the ancient Near East. This is reflected in the thousands of cuneiform tablets uncovered in the ruins of the Hittite capital.

The pantheon of Hittite religion included thousands of deities many of them associated with various Anatolian localities. The state cult was dominated by an Anatolian deity called the Sun-goddess Arinna, protectress of the royal dynasty. Her consort was the Weather god Hatti. In the later empire, strong Hurrian influence in Hittite religion appeared with the introduction of the goddess, Hepat, identified with the Sun-goddess and with Teshub, who became identified with the Weather-god. "Zeus's wife Hera and Adam's wife Eve are the extensions of Hittite goddess Hepat."

Hittite literature includes historical annals, royal testaments as well as a number of myths and legends. Many of the latter appear to be of Hurrian origin.

They created the best military architecture of the Near East. Their system of offensive defense works, handed down from the Old Kingdom, grew into a unique type of fortification under the Empire.

The major characteristic of Hittite architecture is its completely asymmetrical ground plan. They employed square piers as supports and had neither columns nor capitals.

Outstanding among examples of Hittite art are the Sphinx Gate of Alacahoyuk and the rock reliefs of Yazilikaya, an outdoor religious shrine in the form of a rock gallery located outside the walls of Hattusha, where two converging lines of male and female deities strikingly depict the major gods of the Hittite Empire.

First seen in a relief of 12 gods in Yazilikaya, the number twelve has been repeated often throughout historic and prehistoric times with 12 Gods of Olympus, 12 Apostles, 12 Imams in Islamic mysticism, 12 in a dozen and 12 months in a year.

Finally, a significant feature of Hittite culture is to be observed in the Hittite Law Code, which appears to be more humane than others in the ancient Near East and in the Hittite practice of treaty relations with allies and vassals during the empire period.

A number of major Anatolian sites have now been excavated that have yielded objects or inscriptions of the Hittite period. Among these, in addition to Hattusha, are Alisar, Alacahoyuk and Kultepe, all in the central Anatolian plateau; Karahoyuk, near Konya in the southwest; and Tarsus and Mersin in the Cilician plain of southern Anatolia.

There is no certain typical tradition with regards to their burial customs, but cremation and inhumation can be seen together. What is interesting is that people were buried with their animals, mostly horses.

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   Last update 2.December.2012 Thursday