Hittites and Assyrians

The Hittites were an Indo-European people who lived in the second millennium BC. BC established a powerful empire in central Anatolia (present-day Turkey), an area close to Mesopotamia. From there they expanded into Syria and conquered as far as Babylon.

The location of the capital Hattusa in the center of Asia Minor probably contributed to the control of the borders of the Hittite Empire.

This society has left us with the oldest texts written in Indo-European languages. Most of the languages ​​spoken in Europe originated from this language. The texts covered history, politics, law, literature, and religion and were inscribed on clay tablets in cuneiform.

The Hittites used iron and horses, new to the region. Horses increased the speed of chariots. Chariots were built not with solid wheels like the Sumerians, but with spoked wheels that were lighter and easier to handle.

The army was commanded by a king, who also served as chief judge and priest. In Hittite society, queens had relative power.

From a cultural point of view, we can focus on the Hittite script, which is based on pictographic representations (drawings). In addition to this hieroglyphics, the Hittites also had a type of cuneiform. Like many ancient peoples, the Hittites followed polytheism (belief in multiple gods). Hittite gods were associated with various aspects of nature (wind, water, rain, earth, etc.).

Around 1200 BC In the 4th century BC, the Hittites were ruled by the Assyrians, who had a strong military and a standing army.
The collapse of this empire occurred around the 12th century BC.

Assyrians (1200 BC – 612 BC) Caption: Stone tablets adorning the palace of King Ashurbanipal. At Nineveh, Assyrian archers routed a force of Arabs on camels.

The Assyrians inhabited the area north of Babylon by 729 BC. They had already conquered all of Mesopotamia. The capital during its most prosperous period was Nineveh, in what is now part of Iraq. These peoples were distinguished by the organization and development of military culture. They saw war as one of the most important ways to gain power and develop society. They were very cruel to the enemy tribes they defeated. They inflicted punishment and brutality on the defeated in order to maintain respect for other peoples and spread fear. Because of this attitude, they had to face a series of popular uprisings in the areas they conquered.

They embarked on the conquest of Babylon and from there began expanding the borders of their empire until they reached Egypt in North Africa. The Assyrian Empire experienced its greatest period of glory and prosperity during the reign of Ashurbanipal.

Ashurbanipal was the last great king of Assyria. During his reign (668-627 BC), Assyria became the first world power. His empire included Babylon, Persia, Syria, and Egypt.

During the reign of Ashurbanipal, the Babylonians were liberated (626 BC) and conquered Nineveh. Ashurbanipal’s death deepened the decline of the Assyrian empire and led to the collapse of Assyrian power. Ten years later, the empire fell into the hands of the Babylonians and Persians.

A strange contradiction in Assyrian culture was the development of science and mathematics. This fact can be partially explained by Assyria’s obsession with war and invasion. One of the greatest mathematical inventions of the Assyrians was dividing the circle into his 360 degrees, and they were among the first to invent latitude and longitude for geographical navigation. They also developed highly advanced medicine and greatly influenced distant regions such as Greece.