The Hittites were one of the great Empires of pre-classical antiquity, coming to dominate Anatolia and parts of Syria. A surprising range of documents from the period have survived, mainly in the form of clay tablets, and the language was deciphered early in the Twentieth Century, so many Hittite documents have now been translated (in some cases dramatically altering our views of historical events).
Two of the articles here focus on surviving documents. These don't just include the royal pronouncements so familiar from their Egyptian rivals, but also a range of more informative documents. The two articles here look at the Hittite Guards's Rule, and a set of rules for training chariot horses. The Guards' rule focuses on the details of working in a palace society, but also includes more down-to-earth topics as how a guard should relieve himself if on duty. The horse training document is fascinating both for its contents and for the insight it gives us into the multinational nature of the Hittite Empire, as its author came from Mitanni.
The article on the Neo-Hittite kingdoms shows that the same culture survived for some time after the fall of the main Hittite Empire, before eventually falling to the Assyrians.
The article on the Hittite Army covers a wide period in a short space - possible here as the Hittite army remained based on chariots and infantry for most of its existence.
The article on Hittite fortifications again shows the difficulties of working with limited sources - in this case the surviving stone foundations, artistic work and the odd surviving artefact, including part of a decorated pot and a clay model.
Away from the main theme there is an article on Octavian's first attempt to defeat Sextus Pompeius, a military disaster that reminds us that Octavian's rise to eventually supremacy wasn't without setbacks. Octavian was actually present at one of the naval defeats of the campaign, putting him closer to the fighting than is sometimes acknowledged.
The detailed analysis of the ancient ballista compares the orthodox view with the alternative that is currently favoured, and reminds us how difficult it is to recreate these weapons from vague references in historical sources and the odd find of surviving metalwork.
Hittites and their successors: Historical Introduction
The Hittite Guards' Rule: Reading a Hittite clay tablet
Hittite defensive structures: The Bronze Age art of fortification
Kikkuli: A horse master from Mitanni
Bronze age superpower: The Hittite war machine, 1700-1200 BC
Rise and fall of minor kingdoms: Last of the Neo-Hittites
The armourers of Caria: A Greek tradition of Anatolian invention
Against Pompeius: Octavian's disaster in Sicily
Euthytones and palintones: What did the ballista really look like?
Hollywood Romans: Cleopatra, the eternal queen
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