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The Hittites in the Late Bronze Age became the mightiest military power in the Ancient Near East. Yet their empire was always vulnerable to destruction by enemy forces; their Anatolian homeland occupied a remote region, with no navigable rivers; and they were cut off from the sea. Perhaps most seriously, they suffered chronic under-population and sometimes devastating plague. How, then, can the rise and triumph of this ancient imperium be explained, against seemingly insuperable odds?
In his lively and unconventional treatment of one of antiquity's most mysterious civilizations, whose history disappeared from the records over three thousand years ago, Trevor Bryce sheds fresh light on Hittite warriors as well as on the Hittites' social, religious and political culture and offers new solutions to many unsolved questions. Revealing them to have been masters of chariot warfare, who almost inflicted disastrous defeat on Rameses II at the Battle of Qadesh (1274 BCE), he shows the Hittites also to have been devout worshippers of a pantheon of storm-gods and many other gods, and masters of a new diplomatic system which bolstered their authority for centuries.
Drawing authoritatively both on texts and on ongoing archaeological discoveries, while at the same time offering imaginative reconstructions of the Hittite world, the author argues that while the development of a warrior culture was essential, not only for the Empire's expansion but for its very survival, this by itself was not enough. The range of skills demanded of the Hittite ruling class went way beyond mere military prowess, while there was much more to the Hittites themselves than just skill in warfare. This engaging volume reveals the Hittites in their full complexity, including the festivals they celebrated; the temples and palaces they built; their customs and superstitions; the crimes they committed; their social hierarchy, from king to slave; and the marriages and pre-nuptial agreements they contracted. It takes the reader on a journey which combines epic grandeur, spectacle and pageantry with an understanding of the intimacies and idiosyncrasies of Hittite daily life.
List of Maps and Figures
Chapter 1: Rediscovering a Lost World
Chapter 2: How Do The Hittites Tell Us About Themselves?
Chapter 3: The Dawn of the Hittite Era
Chapter 4: The Legacy of an Ailing King
Chapter 5: 'Now Bloodshed Has Become Common'
Chapter 6: The Setting for an Empire
Chapter 7: Building an Empire
Chapter 8: Lion or Pussycat?
Chapter 9: From Near Extinction to the Threshold of International Supremacy
Chapter 10: The Greatest Kingdom of Them All
Chapter 11: Intermediaries of the Gods: The Great Kings of Hatti
Chapter 12: King by Default
Chapter 13: Health, Hygiene and Healing
Chapter 14: Justice and the Commoner
Chapter 15: No Sex Please, We're Hittite
Chapter 16: Women, Marriage and Slavery
Chapter 17: War with Egypt
Chapter 18: All the King's Horses and All the King's Men
Chapter 19: The Man Who Would Be King
Chapter 20: Partners in Power: The Great Queens of Hatti
Chapter 21: City of Temples and Bureaucrats: The Royal Capital
Chapter 22: An Elite Fraternity: the Club of Royal Brothers
Chapter 23: The Empire's Struggle for Survival
Chapter 24: Hatti's Divine Overlords
Chapter 25: Death of an Empire
Appendix 1: Rulers of Hatti
Appendix 2: Outline of Main Events in Hittite History
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