Tag: ancient civilizations

The Rise and Fall of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia

The Rise and Fall of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia

A history of the Hittites including their cities, kings, art and contributions to civilization.

A group of tribes, speaking Indo-European languages and collectively known as the Hittites, establish themselves as the dominant power in Anatolia. Their capital is at Bogazkoy, a dramatically fortified city on a steep slope among ravines; its walls and towers enclose no fewer than five great temples.

The priest-king who makes this place his capital in the 17th century BC is Hattusilis I. He has ambitions for his people. Moving south and east with his army, he reaches the Mediterranean and continues into northern Syria.

Eager to give his empire full credentials, Hattusilis brings back from Syria a team of scribes, expert in cuneiform. They adapt the cuneiform script to a new purpose, the recording of an Indo-European language, and they lay the foundation for an important state archive at Bogazkoy.

When the clay tablets of this archive are discovered, in the 20th century, they provide the basis for our knowledge of the Hittites.

The Magic of Iron

The Hittites are the first people to work iron, in Anatolia from about 1500 BC. In its simple form iron is less hard than bronze, and therefore of less use as a weapon, but it seems to have had an immediate appeal – perhaps as the latest achievement of technology (with the mysterious quality of being changeable, through heating and hammering), or from a certain intrinsic magic (it is the metal in meteorites, which fall from the sky).

Quite how much value is attached to iron can be judged from a famous letter of about 1250 BC, written by a Hittite king to accompany an iron dagger-blade which he is sending to a fellow monarch (see Letter from a Hittite king).

The Rise and Fall of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia

The Furthest Extent of the Hittite Empire

In about 1600 the Hittites reach and destroy Babylon, before retreating again to their Anatolian heartland. In the 14th century they march again to establish an empire which reaches into northern Syria, east of the Euphrates, and extends down the Mediterranean coast to confront the Egyptians. A hard-fought but inconclusive engagement at Kadesh in 1275 stablizes the frontier between the two power blocs.

It is followed some years later by a treaty and the marriage of the daughter of the Hittite king (Hattusilis III) to the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II.

In the 12th century the Hittite empire suddenly collapses – overwhelmed, it is thought, by the onrush of the Sea Peoples. These terrifying intruders are described in Egyptian chronicles as raging down the coast to threaten the frontiers of Egypt in about 1218 and again in 1182 BC.

The Rise and Fall of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia

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Ancient Maya civilization and Alien visitors

Ancient Maya civilization and Alien visitors

Guatemala and Mexico release secret documents and artefacts for forthcoming film Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond.

The ancient Mayans had contact with alien visitors who left behind evidence of their existence, according to a new Mexican documentary.

Sundance winner Juan Carlos Rulfo’s Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond is currently in production for release next year to coincide with the end of the Mayan calendar, reports the Wrap.

Producer Raul Julia-Levy said the documentary-makers were working in cooperation with the Mexican government for what he said was “the good of mankind”. He said the order to collaborate had come directly from the country’s president, Álvaro Colom Caballeros.

“Mexico will release codices, artefacts and significant documents with evidence of Mayan and extraterrestrial contact, and all of their information will be corroborated by archaeologists,” he said. “The Mexican government is not making this statement on their own – everything we say, we’re going to back it up.”

Ancient Maya civilization and Alien visitors

Caballeros himself was conspicuous by his absence from the statement released by Julia-Levy. So far, the minister of tourism for the Mexican state of Campeche, Luis Augusto García Rosado, appears to be the highest-ranking government official to go on record confirming the discovery of extraterrestrial life, but he’s not holding back.

In a statement, Rosado spoke of contact “between the Mayans and extraterrestrials, supported by translations of certain codices, which the government has kept secure in underground vaults for some time”. In a telephone conversation with the Wrap, he also spoke of “landing pads in the jungle that are 3,000 years old”.

The documentary is believed to focus in part on previously unexplored sections of a Mayan site at Calakmul, Mexico, as well as a number of sites in Guatemala, where officials are also backing the documentary.

“Guatemala, like Mexico, home to the ancient-yet-advanced Mayan civilisation … has also kept certain provocative archeological discoveries classified, and now believes that it is time to bring forth this information in the new documentary,” Guatemala’s minister of tourism, Guillermo Novielli Quezada, said in a statement.

The Mayan calendar ends on 21 December 2012, a fact which conspiracy theorists have used to predict imminent apocalypse. However, according to Mayanist scholars there is no evidence that the Mayans themselves expected cataclysmic events to occur once the calendar had reached its denouement. More likely, it would simply mark the beginning of another 5,125-year-long cycle.

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