Yesterday (May 15th, 2002), I went to Yalıkavak Küdür. The reason behind my trip was to render an opinion about a problematic old wooden door. Once completed my task, I got into a conversation with Prof. Manfred Blanke, owner of the house. He was an archaeologist and a Hittite expert. Below is a summary of our one hour long conversation shedding some light onto our Anatolian ancestry.
Those we call the Hittites was a thin social strata which had arrived to Anatolia from somewhere else. They came in around 1600 BC and dominated Anatolia and Northern Mesopotamia. They dominated, because they brought under their domination the Hattis, the indigenous Anatolians of that time. The Hittites spoke an Indo-European language. They called water “voda” and the wheel “ratha”. They had an advanced script. They used dictionaries. The lingua franca of that period was Akkadian. There were, among others, numerous Hittite -Akkadian dictionaries. They knew that they were not alone in the world. They knew the Assyrians and the Egyptians and their cultures and languages. They had a polytheistic pantheon.
They always knew how to remain as a thin layer, not to mix with the local people, remain administrators and to raise administrators. When it suited them they sent letters to the neighbouring kings which started with the expression “my dear brother”. When it suited them they fought ruthlessly against the same people. When it suited them they backstabbed them. When they realized they could not cope with them, they married their daughters with the neighbouring kings or received brides from them for their sons. Using these methods, they constantly formed frontlines, or narrowed down these frontlines.
As said, they never mixed with the indigenous people. They did not know much of the feeling of mercy. Every way to reach a goal was permissible.
If we could sit down with a Hittite today and we would understand each other’s language, then the conversation would probably be about politics. They were well aware of the value and power of intrigue. They mastered its subtleties at the level similar to what it is today. They were well advanced in the field of law.
In the field of technology, their most advanced development was the war chariot pulled by four horses. These chariots can be likened to the most developed war machines of today. Their development had taken centuries. The war chariot was a synthesis of a serious of different skills and technologies: Horse breeding, horse riding and control, horse caring, functional harnesses, wheels and dust guides… All of these had come into existence only after intricate developments. The Hittites boasted much of their war chariots and terrified their enemies with them. With aerodynamically designed lee clothes the dust and mud of the steppes was kept away from the charioteer and thus the chariot could keep track and perform its duty.
It is thought that India is at the root of the art of horse breeding. The terms the Hittites used for horsemanship were borrowed from the Sanskrit language. And from the Indian pantheon they had also imported the gods which they thought they needed in their own pantheon.
Technically, the Hittites also discovered the iron. This is a step comparable to the invention of the gunpowder. With one blow with his iron sword the Hittite warrior rendered his enemy’s weapon, a bronze sword, unusable.
The Hittites hunted for prestige. The kings used to hunt elephants as beasts worthy of kings. There were many elephants in northern Mesopotamia. The Hittites entertained a large guild of artisans who processed ivory.