Other Archaeological Sites / The Neolithic of the Levant (500 Page Book Online)
Winner of the 1993 Best Scholarly Book in Archaeology
Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:
The Hittites in the closing centuries of the third millennium BC had ensconced themselves on the central Anatolian plateau within the curve of the Halys River. Although their folklore and traditions maintain a disconcerting silence on the subject of their origins, the language of the Hittites, deciphered early in the present century, belongs to the Anatolian branch of the great Indo-European family; and thus distinguishes this people from all other language groups in the ancient Near East. Presumably in keeping with what is known of the place of origins and movements of other Indo-European speaking peoples, the Hittite ancestors were originally at home in the southern steppes of Asia, and only emerged into the Anatolian plateau sometime in the mid to late third millennium. Early in the second millennium, they captured, destroyed, and rebuilt a city within this upland region, which they renamed Hattusas and used ever after as a capital. Through the accidence of the centrality of Hattusas, the orientation of the Hittite state forced it to face southwest and southeast. The former prospect cultivated an interest in the south Ionian coast and Lycia; the latter directed Hittite attention to the lands of Syria beyond the Taurus Mountains and to Mesopotamia. The presence in north Syria of the rich and powerful kingdom of Yamkhad [centred at Aleppo of which Alalakh was a vassal state] may well have excited the cupidity of the Hittites -- they could scarcely have viewed Aleppo as a threat to their own security. Whatever the motivation or immediate cause, King Hattusilis I early in his reign launched an attack against Alalakh, a dependency of Aleppo in north Syria, and destroyed it. On the same campaign Urshu on the Euphrates River just north of Carchemish was also reduced. Four years later Hattusilis was even able to attack Aleppo itself (although the city did not fall) and to cross the Euphrates. His energetic successor, Mursilis I, was able to carry the strategy to a successful completion by destroying Aleppo and thus terminating the rule and existence of Yamkhad once and for all .....
A second and more celebrated feat of arms by Mursilis I, was to wreak havoc with the political configuration of Mesopotamia and change the demography of the region. Both Hittite and Babylonian sources record a lightning military campaign that carried Hittite arms down the Euphrates and resulted in the capture and anihilation of the city of Babylon (shortly before 1530 BC). A razzia only, bent on booty, Mursilis's campaign destroyed the 1st Dynasty of Babylon, swept away the state of Khana on the middle Euphrates, and allowed the rising power of the Kassites to move in and occupy Babylonia ...