The Last Days of Hattusa

The mysterious collapse of the Hittite empire

Read Trevor Bryce’s article “The Last Days of Hattusa” as it originally appeared in Archaeology Odyssey, January/February 2005.—Ed.



A helmeted god stands guard over one of the principal entrances to ancient Hattusa. From the 17th to the early 12th century B.C., Hattusa served as the capital of the Hittite empire. Credit: Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis.

From his capital, Hattusa, in central Anatolia, the last-known Hittite king, Suppiluliuma II (1207 B.C.-?), ruled over a people who had once built a great empire—one of the superpowers (along with Egypt, Mittani, Babylon and Assyria) of the Late Bronze Age. The Kingdom of the Hittites, called Hatti, had stretched across the face of Anatolia and northern Syria, from the Aegean in the west to the Euphrates in the east. But now those days were gone, and the royal capital was about to be destroyed forever by invasion and fire.

Did Suppiluliuma die defending his city, like the last king of Constantinople 2,600 years later? Or did he spend his final moments in his palace, impassively contemplating mankind’s flickering mortality?

Neither, according to recent archaeological evidence, which paints a somewhat less dramatic, though still mysterious, picture of Hattusa’s last days. Excavations at the site, directed by the German archaeologist Jürgen Seeher, have indeed determined that the city was invaded and burned early in the 12th century B.C. But this destruction appears to have taken place after many of Hattusa’s residents had abandoned the city, carrying off the valuable (and portable) objects as well as the city’s important official records. The site being uncovered by archaeologists was probably little more than a ghost town during its final days.1

Excavations at Hattusa have turned up beautifully crafted ritual objects, such as the 1.5-inch-high, 15th-century B.C. gold pendant, which represents a Hittite god. Credit: Réunion des Musées Nationaux/Art Resource, NY.

From Assyrian records, we know that in the early second millennium B.C. Hattusa was the seat of a central Anatolian kingdom. In the 18th century B.C., this settlement was razed to the ground by a king named Anitta, who declared the site accursed and then left a record of his destruction of the city. One of the first Hittite kings, Hattusili I (c. 1650–1620 B.C.), rebuilt the city, taking advantage of the region’s abundant sources of water, thick forests and fertile land. An outcrop of rock rising precipitously above the site (now known as Büyükkale, or “Big Castle”) provided a readily defensible location for Hattusili’s royal citadel.

Although Hattusa became the capital of one of the greatest Near Eastern empires, the city was almost completely destroyed several times. One critical episode came early in the 14th century, when enemy forces launched a series of massive attacks upon the Hittite homeland, crossing its borders from all directions. The attackers included Arzawan forces from the west and south, Kaskan mountain tribes from the north, and Isuwan forces from across the Euphrates in the east. The Hittite king Tudhaliya III (c. 1360?-1350 B.C.) had no choice but to abandon his capital to the enemy. Tudhaliya probably went into exile in the eastern city of Samuha (according to his grandson and biographer, Mursili II, Tudhalia used Samuha as his base of operations for reconquering lost territories). Hattusa was destroyed, and the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III (1390–1352 B.C.) declared, in a letter tablet found at Tell el-Amarna, in Egypt, that “The Land of Hatti is finished!”

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In a series of brilliant campaigns, however, largely masterminded by Tudhaliya’s son Suppiluliuma I (1344–1322 B.C.), the Hittites regained their territories, and Hattusa rose once more, phoenix-like, from its ashes. During the late 14th century and for much of the 13th century B.C., Hatti was the most powerful kingdom in the Near East. Envoys from the Hittite king’s “royal brothers”—the kings of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria—were regularly received in the great reception hall on Hattusa’s acropolis. Vassal rulers bound by treaty came annually to Hattusa to reaffirm their loyalty and pay tribute to the Hittite king.2

The most illustrious phase in the existence of Hattusa itself, however, did not come during the floruit of the Hittite empire under Suppiluliuma, his son Mursili II (c. 1321–1295 B.C.) or grandson Muwatalli II (c. 1295–1272 B.C.). At this time Hattusa was no match, in size or splendor, for the great Egyptian cities along the Nile—Thebes, Memphis and the short-lived Akhetaten, capital of the so-called heretic pharaoh Akhenaten (1352–1336 B.C.). Indeed, during Muwatalli’s reign Hattusa actually went into decline when the royal seat was transferred to a new site, Tarhuntassa, near Anatolia’s southern coast. Only later, when the kingdom was in the early stages of its final decline, did Hattusa become one of the great showplaces of the ancient Near East.

A 7-inch-high, 13th-century B.C. silver rhyton, cast in the shape of a stag, discovered at Hattusa. Credit: Werner Forman/Art Resource, NY.

This renovation of the city was the inspiration of King Hattusili III (c. 1267–1237 B.C.), though his son and successor, Tudhaliya IV (c. 1237–1209 B.C.), did most of the work. Not only did Tudhaliya substantially renovate the acropolis; he more than doubled the city’s size, developing a new area lying south of and rising above the old city. In the new “Upper City,” a great temple complex arose. Hattusa could now boast at least 31 temples within its walls, many built during Tudhaliya’s reign. Though individually dwarfed by the enormous Temple of the Storm God in the “Lower City,” the new temples left no doubt about Hattusa’s grandeur, impressing upon all who visited the capital that it was the religious as well as the political and administrative heart of the Hittite empire.

Hattusili’s son Tudhaliya IV (1237–1209 B.C.) greatly expanded Hattusa to include a new Upper City, doubling the size of the Hittite capital. Tudhaliya also built dozens of new temples and massive fortification walls encircling the entire city. Credit: Life And Society in the Hittite World.

Tudhaliya also constructed massive new fortifications. The main casemate wall was built upon an earthen rampart to a height of 35 feet, punctuated by towers at 70-foot intervals along its entire length. The wall twice crossed a deep gorge to enclose the Lower City, the Upper City and an area to the northeast; this was surely one of the most impressive engineering achievements of the Late Bronze Age.

The great Temple of the Storm God, Teshub, once dominated the Lower City at Hattusa. The temple is clearly visible at left-center in the photo (which looks northwest over the ancient Lower City to modern Boghazkoy), surrounded by ritual chambers and storerooms. The temple was built by Hattusili III (1267–1237 B.C.)—perhaps on the site of an older temple to Teshub—just northwest of Hattusa’s ancient acropolis (not visible in the photo). Credit: Yann Arthus Bertrand/Corbis.

What prompted this sudden and dramatic—perhaps even frenetic—surge of building activity in these last decades of the kingdom’s existence?

One is left with the uneasy feeling that the Hittite world was living on the edge. Despite outward appearances, all was not well with the kingdom, or with the royal dynasty that controlled it. To be sure, Tudhaliya had some military successes; in western Anatolia, for instance, he appears to have eliminated the threat posed by the Mycenaean Greeks to the Hittite vassal kingdoms, which extended to the Aegean Sea.3 But he also suffered a major military defeat to the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta, which dispelled any notion that the Hittites were invincible in the field of battle. Closer to home, Tudhaliya wrote anxiously to his mother about a serious rebellion that had broken out near the homeland’s frontiers and was likely to spread much farther.

The collapse of the Hittite Empire is just one of many destructions at the end of the late Bronze Age. Learn more about the Bronze Age collapse and new evidence of droughts in the region >>


Excavators at Hattusa found this five-inch-high, 15th-century B.C. ceramic fragment that may depict the cyclopean walls and defensive towers that surrounded the acropolis. Credit: Hirmer Fotoarchiv Muenchen.

Within the royal family itself, there were serious divisions. For this, Tudhaliya’s father, Hattusili, was largely responsible. In a brief but violent civil war, he had seized the throne from his nephew Urhi-Teshub (c. 1272–1267 B.C.) and sent him into exile. But Urhi-Teshub was determined to regain his throne. Fleeing his place of exile, he attempted to win support from foreign kings, and he may have set up a rival kingdom in southern Anatolia.
Urhi-Teshub’s brother Kurunta may also have contributed to the deepening divisions within the royal family. After initially pledging his loyalty to Hattusili, he appears to have made an attempt upon the throne when it was occupied by his cousin Tudhaliya. Seal impressions dating to this period have been found in Hattusa with the inscription “Kurunta, Great King, Labarna, My Sun.” A rock-cut inscription recently found near Konya, in southern Turkey, also refers to Kurunta as “Great King.” The titles “Great King,” “Labarna” and “My Sun” were strictly reserved for the throne’s actual occupant—suggesting that Kurunta may have instigated a successful coup against Tudhaliya.

The seal of Tudhaliya IV (1237–1228 B.C.) is stamped on this 4-inch-high fragment of a letter sent to the king of Ugarit. Although the letter is written in cuneiform, the seal is in Hittite hieroglyphics. Credit: Erich Lessing.

Kurunta had every right to mount such a coup. Like Urhi-Teshub, he was a son of the legitimate king, Muwatalli. Urhi-Teshub’s and Kurunta’s rights had been denied when their uncle, Hattusili, usurped royal power for himself and his descendants. If Kurunta did indeed rectify matters by taking the throne by force around 1228 B.C., his occupancy was short-lived, for Tudhaliya again became king, and he remained king for many years after Kurunta disappeared from the historical record.
Nevertheless, the dynasty remained unstable. In an address to palace dignitaries, Tudhaliya made clear how insecure his position was:

The Land of Hatti is full of the royal line: In Hatti the descendants of Suppiluliuma, the descendants of Mursili, the descendants of Muwatalli, the descendants of Hattusili are numerous. Regarding the kingship, you must acknowledge no other person (but me, Tudhaliya), and protect only the grandson and great grandson and descendants of Tudhaliya. And if at any time(?) evil is done to His Majesty—(for) His Majesty has many brothers—and someone approaches another person and speaks thus: “Whomever we select for ourselves need not even be a son of our lord!”—these words must not be (permitted)! Regarding the kingship, you must protect only His Majesty and the descendants of His Majesty. You must approach no other person!

Another serious problem confronted the last kings of Hatti. There may well have been widespread famine in the Hittite kingdom during its final decades. The Egyptian pharaoh Merneptah (1213–1203 B.C.) refers to grain shipments sent to the Hittite king “to keep alive the land of Hatti.” Tudhaliya himself sent an urgent letter to the king of Ugarit, demanding a ship and crew for the transport of 450 tons of grain. The letter ends by stating that it is a matter of life or death! Was the Hittite kingdom being slowly starved into oblivion?

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The Hittite economy was based primarily on agriculture, requiring a substantial labor force. At the same time, the annual Hittite military campaigns were heavily labor-intensive—draining off Hatti’s strong young men from the domestic workforce. To some extent this was compensated for by captives brought back to the homeland and used as farm laborers. Even so, the kingdom faced chronic shortages of manpower.

Increasingly, the Hittites came to depend on outside sources of grain, supplied by vassal states in north Syria and elsewhere. After 1259 B.C., when the Hittites signed a treaty with the Egyptians,4 Hatti began importing grain from Egypt.

In times of peace and stability, foreign imports made up for local shortfalls. But once supply routes were threatened, the situation changed dramatically. Grain shipments from Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean were transported to Ura, on the Anatolian coast, and then carried overland to Hatti. The eastern Mediterranean was always a dangerous place for commercial shipping, since it was infested with pirates who attacked ships and raided coastal ports. As conditions throughout the region became more unsettled toward the end of the 13th century B.C., the threats to shipping became ever greater.

This provides the context for the Hittite military operations around the island of Cyprus during the reigns of Tudhaliya and his son Suppiluliuma II. The operations were almost certainly aimed at destroying enemy forces that were disrupting grain supplies. These enemies were probably seaborne marauders who had invaded Cyprus to use its harbors as bases for their attacks on shipping in the region. Dramatic evidence of the dangers they posed is provided by a letter from the last king of Ugarit, Ammurapi, to the king of Cyprus, who had earlier asked Ammurapi for assistance:

My father, behold, the enemy’s ships came (here); my cities(?) were burned, and they did evil things in my country. Does not my father know that all my troops and chariots(?) are in the Land of Hatti, and all my ships are in the Land of Lukka? … Thus the country is abandoned to itself. May my father know it: The seven ships of the enemy that came here inflicted much damage upon us.5

On a wall of his mortuary temple at Thebes, called the Ramesseum, the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II (1279–1213 B.C.) carved scenes showing the Battle of Kadesh—a clash between the Egyptians and the Hittites fought in 1274 B.C. near the Orontes River in modern Syria. Thirteen years later, Ramesses signed a peace treaty with the Hittite king Hattusili III (1267–1237 B.C.), putting an end to the protracted war between the two Late Bronze Age superpowers. Credit: Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.

So, while a grave crisis was mounting in the land, with periods of famine, unrest and war aggravated by a dysfunctional royal dynasty, the Hittite kings decided to rebuild Hattusa!

This project obviously required enormous resources. Where did the workers come from? It would have been dangerous to deplete the ranks of the army during a period of conflict with Assyria in the east, rebellion near the homeland’s frontiers (the one Tudhaliya described to his mother) and attacks by marauders in the Mediterranean. The construction workers had to be recruited from among the able-bodied men working the farms—yet another strain on the already taxed Hittite economy.6

How do we explain this?

The new city was the brainchild of Tudhaliya’s father, Hattusili, who was always conscious of the fact that he was not the legitimate successor to the throne. Hattusili thus made great efforts to win acknowledgment from his royal peers: the kings of Egypt, Babylon and Assyria. It was also important for him to win acceptance from his own subjects. His brother and predecessor King Muwatalli had transferred the royal seat to Tarhuntassa.

Very likely Hattusili decided to win favor from his people—and the gods—by reinstating Hattusa, the great ancestral Hittite city, as the kingdom’s capital, and to do so on a grander scale than ever before. In this way, Hattusili-the-usurper could assume the role of Hattusili-the-restorer-of-the-old-order.

Did this provide a compelling motive for his son, Tudhaliya, who actually undertook the project? Or was Tudhaliya’s commitment to rebuilding the capital as a city of the gods an expression of religious fervor,7 especially as his kingdom was beginning to crumble around him? Or was he engaging in a gigantic bluff—creating a spectacular mirage of wealth and power in an attempt to delude subjects, allies and enemies into believing that the fragile empire he ruled was embarking upon a grand new era? Dramatically appealing as such explanations may be, they do not square with the picture we have of Tudhaliya as a level-headed, responsible and pragmatic ruler.

In short, the massive rebuilding of Hattusa at this time remains a mystery, one of the many mysteries attending the collapse of the Bronze Age.8

Only a handful of texts survive from the reign of Tudhaliya’s son Suppiluliuma II, and these tell a mixed story. On the one hand, some texts point to continuing unrest among his own subjects, including the elite elements of the state, and to acts of outright defiance by vassal states. On the other hand, military documents record conquests in southern and western Anatolia and naval victories off the coast of Cyprus. These conflicting documents from Suppiluliuma’s reign bring our written records of the Hittite kingdom abruptly to an end. Suppiluliuma, the last known monarch to rule from Hattusa, was almost certainly the king who witnessed the fall of the kingdom of Hatti.

The tablet, found at Hatttusa, is the Egyptian version of the treaty of Kadesh, written in Akkadian. Credit: Erich Lessing.

What happened at the royal capital? The evidence of widespread destruction by fire on the royal acropolis, in the temples of both the Upper City and Lower City, and along stretches of the fortifications, suggests a scenario of a single, simultaneous, violent destruction in an all-consuming conflagration. The final blow may have been delivered by bands of Kaskan peoples from the Pontic zone in the north, who had plagued the kingdom from its early days.

As we have seen, however, recent archaeological investigations indicate that by this time the city had already been largely abandoned. The Hittites saw the end coming!

Perhaps Suppiluliuma arranged for the departure of his family while it was still safe, and ordered the evacuation of the most important members of his administration, including a staff of scribes (who carried off the tablets), and a large part of his troops and personal bodyguards. The hoi polloi were left to fend for themselves. Those who stayed behind scavenged through the leavings of those who had departed. When Hattusa was little more than a decaying ruin, outside forces moved in, plundering and torching a largely derelict settlement.

This raises an important question. If the elite elements of Hittite society abandoned Hattusa, where did they go? Did Suppiluliuma set up a new capital elsewhere? That is not beyond the realm of possibility, for we know of at least two earlier occasions when king and court left Hattusa and re-established their capital in another place (Samuha and Tarhuntassa). We know, too, that at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, which had been made a vice-regal seat in the 14th century B.C., a branch of the Hittite royal family survived for perhaps several centuries after the fall of Hattusa. In fact, northern Syria became the homeland of a number of so-called neo-Hittite kingdoms in the early part of the first millennium. Did Suppiluliuma and his entourage find a new home in Syria?

It may be that the final pages of Hittite history still exist somewhere. In the last few decades, thousands of tablets have been found at sites throughout the Hittite world. This inspires hope that more archives of the period have yet to be found, including the last records of the Hittite empire. If Suppiluliuma II did in fact arrange a systematic evacuation of Hattusa, taking with him everything of importance, the stuff had to go somewhere. Maybe it still lies beneath the soil, awaiting discovery.



The Minoans, like the Hittites, shaped Bronze Age history in the Eastern Mediterranean. Who were they? Despite extensive research at palatial Minoan sites, many questions are yet to be answered. Learn what recent DNA studies have revealed about the ancestry of Crete’s great civilization >>



“The Last Days of Hattusa” by Trevor Bryce originally appeared in the January/February 2005 issue of Archaeology Odyssey. The article was first republished in Bible History Daily on September 27, 2013.

trevor-bryceTrevor Bryce is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and Honorary Research Consultant at the University of Queensland, Australia. His publications include The Kingdom of the Hittites (Oxford Univ. Press, 1998), Life and Society in the Hittite World (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), and The World of the Neo-Hittite Kingdoms: A Political and Military History (Oxford Univ. Press, 2012).



1. Jürgen Seeher, “Die Zerstörung der Stadt Hattusa” in Akten des IV. Internationalen Kongresses für Hethitologie Würzburg, 4.-8. Oktober 1999, StBoT 45, ed. Gernot Wilhelm (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2001).
2. See Eric H. Cline, “Warriors of Hatti,” review-article on Trevor Bryce’s The Kingdom of the Hittites (Oxford, 1999), Archaeology Odyssey, January/February 2002).
3. One of the Hittite vassal kingdoms was almost certainly Troy (called “Ilios” and “Troia” by Homer and “Wilusa” by the Hittites). See the following articles in Archaeology Odyssey: “Greeks vs. Hittites: Why Troy is Troy and the Trojan War Is Real” (interview with Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier), July/August 2002; and “Is Homer Historical?” (interview with Gregory Nagy), May/June 2004.
4. For more on this treaty, signed with the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II (1279–1213 B.C.), see Jack Meinhardt, “‘Look on My Works!’ The Many Faces of Ramesses the Great,” Archaeology Odyssey September/October 2003.
5. Document from Ras Shamra, trans. M.J. Astour, “New Evidence on the Last Days of Ugarit,” American Journal of Archaeology 69 (1965), p. 255.
6. Given the fragile condition of Hittite food production at this time, any number of events could have precipitated a crisis, such as severe drought or earthquakes (see Amos Nur and Eric H. Cline, “What Triggered the Collapse? Earthquake Storms,” Archaeology Odyssey, September/October 2001).
7. Tudhaliya IV was also responsible for the impressive sculptural decorations in the sanctuary at Yazilikaya, about a mile northeast of Hattusa (see E.C. Krupp, “Sacred Sex in the Hittite Temple of Yazilikaya,” Archaeology Odyssey, March/April 2000).
8. Hattusa was one of many cities in the Near East and the eastern Mediterranean—including Ugarit, Troy, Knossos and Mycenae—that were destroyed toward the end of the second millennium B.C. See the following articles in Archaeology Odyssey, September/October 2001: William H. Stiebing, Jr., “When Civilization Collapsed: Death of the Bronze Age”; and Amos Nur and Eric H. Cline, “What Triggered the Collapse? Earthquake Storms.”
9. See Richard H. Beal, “History’s History: Learning to Distinguish Fact from Fancy,” Origins, Archaeology Odyssey, January/February 2003.
10. See Birgit Brandau, “Can Archaeology Discover Homer’s Troy?” Archaeology Odyssey, Premiere Issue 1998.


Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Who Were the Hittites?

Bronze Age Collapse: Pollen Study Highlights Late Bronze Age Drought

The Decline of the Neo-Assyrian Empire

Did Climate Change Bring Sumerian Civilization to an End?


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24 Responses

  1. nisaruddin ahmed jeddy says:

    Climate Change destroyed many civilisations in the past.Even the Dinosaur Era ended by Punishment of Climate Changes.Climate Change is a very powerful weapon in the Hands of Great God Allah,Ruler of Universal Empire.Even our own world is gradually perishing by Climate Changes,if one has the keenness to observe.

  2. David Crossman says:

    Fascinating account of a people group with whom, apart from mentions in the Egyptian record, I am unfamiliar. Thank you. The one question I have concerns the reference to the Hittite conflict with Mycenaean Greeks. I was not aware that the Mycenaeans existed as a nation, much less a military aggressor so far in advance of Philip and Alexander – nearly a thousand years! I look forward to filling this lacuna in my understanding. Thanks again.

  3. George says:

    I am inclined to believe that a long term drought led the Hittites
    to abandon Hattusa, likewise the last of the Greeks who grandfathers
    destroyed Troy and became the Sea People’s.

  4. John Barlow says:

    Thank for this interesting item of historical information. It has added another piece to the jig-saw puzzle that represents our understanding of both our history and the foundations of our belief systems.
    It seems to me that if archaeologists can come up with dates for each of these Hittite kings and the events that surround them — and confirm that there was correspondence between one particular Hittite king and the Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaten (1352-1336) — then surely, they should be able to agree on the timing of the exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt. Sadly they cannot; with even Jewish archaeologists — whose faith is founded on the exodus — even denying that such an event occurred.
    If they could overcome the blindness that affects their thinking ability, they could start tying many of these events together and obtain a complete picture.

  5. Sevim Kıvrak says:

    It is great article. But it is shame that you did not mention about exact location of Hattusa, just it says Hattussa locate in north of Syria! It is in the centrel of moder TURKEY ! ( it is a modern, liberal republic ) .

    1. Helen Spalding says:

      Not so liberal these days. Erdogan wants to make himself Caliph. Ah, for the better days of Attaturk.

  6. Rob Palmer says:

    Good, interesting history, which could, and should be taught in secondary school. How many of us are descended from these earlier tribes? Are the “Sea peoples” simply Homer’s Greeks?

  7. brentd4 says:

    A good read and interesting facts, thanks Trevor.

  8. april says:

    can you email me if you know where the name hattusa came from thanks April

  9. Tristan says:

    does anybody know the page numbers for the original article?


  10. 10 Lost Cities of the Ancient Middle East | Urban Ghosts | says:

    […] At the same time as the Hittite Empire was falling into degradation and decline, its capital Hattusa was undergoing spectacular expansion. New temples were being thrown up, the city’s population was […]

  11. says:

    He pulls another stupid yet elaborate prank and hot tubs and
    babies gets caught immediatley. A good starting point would be to have a fetus
    with a neural tube defect compared to women without this exposure.
    In addition to the above?

  12. Paul Ballotta says:

    In the Babylonian account of creation known as Enuma Elish (When on High), everything began with the primordial fresh-water ocean of Apsu that was believed to have encircled and supported the earth and was the source of knowledge and wisdom.
    In the Wisdom of Ben Sirach (24:5,6) it is the primordial Wisdom who declares, “The vault of heaven I compassed alone, through the deep abyss I wandered. Over the waves of the sea, over all the land, over every people and nation I held sway.” This personification of Wisdom originates with Proverbs chapter 8:
    “Prov. 8:30 I was beside him, the Master Architect.
    The rare biblical word amon, ‘Master Architect,’ has a long history in Mesopotamia, where it signifies ‘an expert,’ and now turns up as the title of the dean of the scribal school at Ebla: AB.BA tdm-ta-il u m – m i – a, ‘the Elder, Tamta-Il the dean,’ The biblical wisdom writer predicates this Sumerian word of Yahweh the Creator of the universe” (The Archives of Ebla, by Giovanni Pettinato, p,308).
    The Gospel of John begins with the primordial word or “logos” (John 1:1) and ends with “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25).
    As Wensinck points out in “The Ocean in Cosmography” (p.24), the Arabs also had a tradition of an ocean surrounding the earth with some writers mentioning seven seas;
    “This number is, wrongly, based upon a verse of the Koran. Sura 31:26; ‘If all the trees on the earth were pens and the sea were provided with ink by seven seas behind it, the words of God would not be exhausted.’ The text does not say: by the seven seas, but: by seven seas.”

  13. Paul Ballotta says:

    “Ishuwa” of the Hittites and the promise to Joshua can only serve as a metaphor of God’s dominion, because historically the Israelites didn’t conquer “all the land of the Hittites.”
    Perhaps Ramesses III’s reference to the “Circle of the Earth” alludes to the northernmost extremity of the Hittite’s extent of rule, the Black Sea. In some cosmologies it was believed the earth was encompassed by ocean and the Black Sea was depicted in such a way in the Odyssey, chapter 11, as “the deep-flowing River of Ocean and the frontiers of the world, where the fog-bound Cimmerians live in the city of perpetual mist.” Odysseus had just left the island of the sorceress Circe which means “circle.”
    In “The Ocean in Cosmology” by A.J. Wensinck (pp.21,22), the verse describing the dominion of the Messiah, “And his rule shall extend from sea to sea and from ocean to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:10), refers to this encompassing ocean. The Hebrew word for “end” is “aphes” and it is related to the subteranean ocean in Babylonian cosmology which is the “apsu.” Also Psalm 72:8; “Let him rule from sea to sea, from the river to the ends of the earth.”

  14. Paul Ballotta says:

    Personally I think to “encompass the Sea of Reeds” is a nice translation that you could use symbolically in reference to writings since the reed was used as a pen, but most translations have “Red Sea”
    On the eastern portion of the Hittite Empire was a region along the upper Euphrates called “Ishua” and it might be why Joshua was told:
    “From the wilderness and this Lebanon to the great river Euphrates, that is, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun your territory will prove to be” (Joshua 1:4).

  15. Paul Ballotta says:

    It’s just that the history books associate this invasion during Ramesses III’s eighth year with the invasion of Sea Peoples. We know that there was a communty of workers at Medinet Habu though we don’t know if they were Hebrew. Along with the Pharaoh’s account (quoted in my previous comment) there was a relief of an artist’s depiction of the event, with a combined invasion by land and sea. With ships off the coast, people are traveling on land with ox-carts carrying belongings. Could this be a migration of Phillistines? “Peleset” in Egyptian inscriptions are generally agreed to be Phillistines.
    “Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the Phillistines … So God led the people roundabout…” (Exodus 13:17,18). It is tempting to connect the word for “roundabout”, having the sense of surrounding or encompassing, with the Egyptian description of the Sea Peoples’ reach “as far as the Circle of the Earth”.

  16. Paul Ballotta says:

    Like John’s comment (#2), I was also under the impression that the Hittite Empire collapsed as a result of the invasion of Sea Peoples. Here’s an excerpt from “Ancient Records of Egypt, vol. 4”, by James Breasted, pp.37,38, taken from an inscription in the Medinet Habu temple,:
    “The countries – -, the [Northerners] in their isles were disturbed, taken away in the [fray] – at one time. Not one stood before their hands, from Kheta, Kode, Carchemish, Arvad, Alasa, they were wasted. [The]y [set up] a camp in one place in Amor. They desolated his people and his land like that which is not. They came with fire prepared before them, forward to Egypt. Their main support was Peleset, Thekel, Shekelesh, Denyen, and Wehesh, (These) lands were united, and they laid their hands upon the land as far as the Circle of the Earth. Their hearts were confident, full of their plans.”

  17. Jon Smyth says:

    In reply to post 2., above.
    It would appear that the Hatti did not fall to any Sea Peoples.
    The quote to which you refer:

    “No land could stand before their arms: from Hatti, Qode, Carchemish, Arzawa and Alashiya on, ”

    Has likely suffered from misinterpretation. There is no “from” in the text.
    The way it should be read, in my opinion, is that.. “No land could stand before the arms of Hatti, Kode, Carchemish, Arvad & Alishaya”.

    The text speaks of an alliance of Hittite city states comprising of Kode, Carchemish, the Isle of Arvad and Alishaya. This was ‘Hatti’ in the final years of the Late Bronze-Iron Age transition.

    Ramesses III advanced into Syria to face a coalition of Hittite city states. This coalition is also mentioned as part of the alliance which Ramesses II faced at Kadesh. With the exception of Alishaya of course, which was only brought into the Hittite sphere by Tudhaliya IV.

  18. Lexi says:

    im 12 and cant really understand everything…
    can u give me a bullet form of what are the downfalls of the hittite empire? (it will help me a lot in my research for school)

  19. Steve Williams says:

    Does anyone have a link to the translations of the Hittite tablets ?

  20. Osman Huzziya says:

    This is so plain and simply to answer in a lateral way, the Hittites mainly remained in the region of Anatolia during various invasion including Genghis khan’s Mogul period plus others before in which Hittites conformed to survive and become assimilated(hence the missing link and their demise in history), in the ensuing power vacuum left by the fall of the invaders to the Nomadic Seljuk Turks from the steppes (whom themselves were many of the displaced Hittites in origin plus combined with allies of region). The unification had come after a thousand year gap and many invasions and influences, these peoples all united to become the mighty Ottoman empire that rules for many hundreds of years up to 1921, Turks were the leaders of the faith of Islam for this vast period, the Turkish gene pool is varied in original and you can be sure the Hittites blood is present as is the Trojans.

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