The Hittites were an ancient Anatolian people who established an empire at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BCE.
- Anatolia is the location of the world's oldest known temple, Göbekli Tepe ("Potbelly Hill"), which is 14,000+ years old. This archaeological site at the top of a mountain ridge in the Southeastern Anatolia region of modern-day Turkey, approximately 7 miles (12 kms) northeast of the city of Şanlıurfa. It has a height of 49 feet (15 m) and is about 984 feet (300 m) in diameter and is approximately 2,493 feet (760 m) above sea level. This empire reached its height during the mid-14th century BCE under Suppiluliuma I, when it encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the Northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After circa 1180 BCE, the empire came to an end during the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until the 8th century BCE.
Despite the use of Hatti for their core territory, the Hittites should be distinguished from the Hattians, an earlier people who inhabited the same region (until the beginning of the second millennium BCE) and spoke a language possibly in the Northwest Caucasian languages group known as Hattic.
The Hittite military made successful use of chariots. Although belonging to the Bronze Age, they were the forerunners of the Iron Age, developing the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the 14th century BC, when letters to foreign rulers reveal the latter's demand for iron goods.
After 1180 BC, amid general turmoil in the Levant associated with the sudden arrival of the Sea Peoples, the kingdom disintegrated into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some of which survived until as late as the 8th century BC.
The Hittites used Mesopotamian cuneiform letters. Archaeological expeditions to Hattusa have discovered entire sets of royal archives in cuneiform tablets, written either in the Semitic Mesopotamian Akkadian language of Assyria and Babylonia, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation.
Before the discoveries, the only source of information about Hittites had been the Old Testament (the Biblical Hittites). Francis William Newman expressed the critical view, common in the early 19th century, that if the Hittites existed at all, "no Hittite king could have compared in power to the King of Judah...."
The first archaeological evidence for the Hittites appeared in tablets found at the Assyrian colony of Kültepe (ancient Karum Kanesh), containing records of trade between Assyrian merchants and a certain "land of Hatti." Some names in the tablets were neither Hattic nor Assyrian, but clearly Indo-European. More