Hattusa – the capital of the Hittite Empire

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The fort Hattusa was situated on a rocky promontory over a valley and it was protected by walls 6 km long. Defensive towers with rectangular ground plan were placed in this massive fortification. Gates served as entrance into the town, which were decorated with menacing-looking lion heads. Markets took place near the city gates.

The town Hattusa

The wider environment of the town Hattusa was colonized from the Stone Age, but the eldest discoveries dated from the Bronze Age in the territory of the town itself and the eldest dwellings dated from the change from Early Bronze Age to Middle Bronze Age – so from the end of the 3rd millennium BC.

The houses were build of bricks or clay in town and walls were painted with white lime. Stone was only used for sanctuaries or offices building. Hittite houses usually had four-sided ground plan and had several rooms in a row, where light got through high windows into. Warm woollen carpets were casted on the ground. They were knitted by women and women had a significant position in the Hittite society. A cellar used to be near the house that served as a food store. Grain, oil or beer (very popular beverage of this nation) were stored in big jugs, which were half sunk into the ground.

Men were stocky and not very tall. They wore short tunics and a long woollen coat over these tunics in winter and pointed shoes of soft leather on feet. Women wore long dresses with vivid colours and a shawl over their heads. Similarly to Egypt there were barter and 1 shekel of silver was used as a comparative unit.

Hattusa, trading center

Also foreigners were attracted to Hattusa – the Syrians, Achaeans and Assyrians came there and bought copper, lead, silver and iron articles. Actually, the Hittites were renowned masters of metal processing. They excelled especially at iron processing that they derived from mines in Taurus Mountains and in Armenia. Especially weapons were made of iron, which were far more dangerous than cupreous weapons.

Hattusa

The Hittites – enemies of Egypt

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

The Hittites were an Indo-European nation that lived on rough plains of middle Anatolia since 18th century BC and their capital was Hattusa. They founded a powerful empire, which fought with then salient civilizations – Babylonia, Assyria and Egypt.

The Hittite King was an absolute ruler, but council of elder helped him with ruling, which had rather big competences. The King was considered as a representative of God on the Earth, so he had to take part in all religious ceremonies to prove his purity. The ruling class was made by aristocracy and priesthood. The plebeian class divided into free people, who mostly worked for the palace, the temples or great aristocratic mansions, and slaves from campaigns.

The Hittites and the Egyptians 

The Egyptians collided the Hittites under Thutmose III. rule and the tension grew gradually under Thutmose IV, Amenhotep IV, Tutankhamun and Ramesses II rule. But because of political and military reasons there were no direct conflict. The war seemed to come soon, because both landes were interested in the same territory. Finally their fights were restricted to short conflicts and attempts of incursion.

Thutmose III. and Hittites 

Thutmose III. decided to attack Mitanni and suppress the increasing influence of the Asians. He needed seventeen campaigns in all for this, but he left a scene of devastation in this territory and raised so much fear that the Babylonian, Assyrian and Hittite tribes started to pay him tributes hoping that they were buying several years of peace this way.

The Pharaoh systematically suppressed every attempt of rebellion in Mitanni for one year. Then Egypt controlled an extensive territory eight years later and its expansion ended only when the three cities near Kadesh were conquered, which was a traditional cradle of Asian rulers rebellions. So a relative political balance was settled in the end in this area.

Thutmose IV. and Hittites

But the international relationships got worse again under Thutmose IV rule. The Kingdom of Mitanni decided suprisingly to form an alliance with Egypt because of the fear of the Hittites, who began to threaten the Mitanni frontiers. Thutmose IV even proposed the Mitanni King's daughter after the first agreement of conquered territories exchange (Egypt gained Palestina and returned the northern Syria to Mitanni). The Hittites were so surprised by this alliance that they rather gave up all martial activities in this area. The other reason was their fight with the inhabitants of Anatolia, who tried to intrude into their territory from the north.

Amenhotep IV. and Hittites

The threat of the was appeared again under Amenhotep IV – Akhenaten rule. The ruler of Amorites (a nation that was settled in the area of today's Lebanon) joined the Hittites, because he hoped that he would be able to break free from the Egyptian yoke. The new Hittite ruler Suppiluliuma pacified the Anatolia and attacked the northern Syria. But Egypt didn't help Mitanni and it embarrassed both Mitanni and the Egyptian rulers of border areas. They were afraid of an incursion, but the Pharaoh was blind to it.

Egypt wasn't successful in conquest of Kadesh around 1,328 BC. It might be during one of these campaigns the young Pharaoh Tutankhamun died. Her young wife suggested to the Hittite King to marry his son to calm the situation. The king agreed with marriage, but his son had never come to Egypt - he might be murdered. The war threatened more and more, but the hostility was averted for some time.

Ramesses II. and Hittites

The conflict broke up to Ramesses II rule, when he entered the territory of the Amorites and decided to reach the northern Syria and fight with the Hittites in front of Kadesh gates. Although Ramesses described the battle result as his crushing victory the territory of the Amorites fetched up in the Hittite influence again.

A fight for power broke in the Hittite Empire after death of Muwatalli, who led the Hittite troops against Ramesses in the battle of Kadesh. Finally Muwatalli's brother Hattusili III came to the throne, after he forced his nephew Urhi-Teshup out of the land, who usurped the throne. Hattusili III. and Ramesses II. signed then the first peace treaty in human's history in 1,280 BC. Friendly relationships of both lands lasted for many years, but the power of another land - Assyria - was growing inconspicuously in the meantime.

Hittites

Babylon – the rival of Thebes (Waset)

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

Babylon was situated on the left bank of the Euphrates river in ancient Akkadian land (middle Mesopotamia). The first note about it came from the period of the 3rd dynasty of Ur (about 2,100 – 2,000 BC). The city was called Ka-dingir-ra in Sumerian and Báb-ilí in Akkadian language (both names mean "God's gate").

Sumuabum, a commander of one Amorite tribe, settled there in 1,894 BC. Semitic tribes began to attack lower Mesopotamia since the decline of Ur. They used fragmentation of the land and built their own kingdom, but most of them existed for a very short time. Sumuabum founded a dynasty, which ruled 300 years. His tribe assimilated very quickly into the city, took over the inhabitants' settled way of life, cults and language as well. Babylon happened to be the crossroad for caravans, which provided business among India and Mediterranean harbours.

Hammurabi

Hammurabi came to the throne in 1,792 BC. He was the sixth king of Babylonia and he inherited only small territory after his father – the former Akkadian land. Thanks to his skills and military abilities Hammurabi gradually conquered cities Larsa (1,763 BC), Mari (1,759 BC), Assur (1,757 BC) and Eshnunna (1,756 BC). So Babylon became a capital of an empire, which involved the whole lower Mesopotamia and a part of upper Mesopotamia.

The Code of Hammurabi 

The reign of Hammurabi was based on a strong personality of the ruler and state administration, which gradually suppressed the authority of local rulers. Hammurabi's name is associated with the eldest Code of law in the world. It was inscribed with Cuneiform script into diorite stele in Akkadian language. The stele is rounded at the top and is 2.5m high. There is a relief of Hammurabi and sun god Utu above the text, which should be inspiration for the ruler to create the code. The code includes private and public law and the rule "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" occures there.

But Hammurabi's work didn't outlive its author. His son Samsu-iluna (1,749 – 1,712 BC) lost Sumer, also Assyria became independent and on the top of that he had to face foreign conquerors – especially the Kassites. But there is not much information about their origin. The Hittite king Mursili I conquered Babylon in 1,595 BC, so the domination of Amorite dynasty was finished.

Nebuchadnezzar II. - last moments of fame

Babylon had its last moment of fame under Nebuchadnezzar II. rule (605 – 562 BC), who ran a politics of conquest and his aim was to force Egypt out of Palestina and Syria. He broke into Judah several times, seized Jerusalem and dragged local people off. But Nebuchadnezzar II had only weak successors and the empire declined gradually after his death, till Persian Cyrus conquered Babylon without fighting.

Babylonia was only a run-down province of Persia in half of the 4th century BC. When Alexander the Great defeated the Persians and came into the city in 331 BC, he was welcomed as a liberator. Alexander the Great died there on June 13th, 323 BC.

Ramesses III. – a conspiracy on Pharaoh's court

Written by Felgr Pavel on .

There were more conspiracies on Pharaoh's court. One of them was prepared by a minor Pharaoh's wife Tiye. She wanted to prevent Ramesses Iv from coming to the throne, because she wanted to get the throne for her son Pentaweret. She won over most of harem women and Binemwese - the captain of Nubian archers, using promises, jewels and various privileges. The conspirators bribed six wives of "Gate guards" – their task was to give information from harem dwellers appealing to general rebellion against the Pharaoh. But the conspiracy was revealed and its authors were arrested and put on trial.

Extraordinary trial

The situation was really serious, because all accused came from a close circle of the Pharaoh and some of them were even high dignitaries. Ramesses III. didn't investigate himself, but he established an extraordinary trial, which investigated and interrogate before the the session of the court. The main authority of this trial was to inflict punishments and ensure their execution, capital punishment included (only the Pharaoh could decide it under common circumstances).

Merciless punishments

About 40 accused were brought to trial gradually in groups. Tiye and 28 conspirators were condemned to death in the first trial. Other 6 conspirators had to commit suicide publicly in front of the whole nation as it was decided in the second trial. The third trial was with other 4 conspirators, Pentaweret himself included, who had the privilege to commit suicide in private.

Main authors of the conspiracy

Name of a conspirator Post
Pebekkamen chief of chamber
Mesedsure Royal butler
Weren Royal butler
Peluka Royal butler
Yenini, the Libyan Royal butler
Pebes Royal butler
Pendua Harem scribe
Peynok Harem inspector
Petewnteamon Harem inspector
Kerpes Harem inspector
Khamopet Harem inspector
Khammale Harem inspector
Setimperthoth Harem inspector
Setimperamon Harem inspector
Pere Palace superior
Binemwese Captain of the archers from Kush

Message from the Nile

  • History of Czech institution of egyptology

    The Czech egyptology founder is Frantisek Lexa, the author of up to now evaluated work about ancient Egypt magic and Demotic grammar. Seminar for egyptology started thanks to him in Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of Charles University in Prague in 1925. Two years later Lexa became the first regular professor of egyptology in then Czechoslovakia.

  • Abusir - outstation of Czech egyptology expedition

    Abusir is an archaeological locality in Egypt named after nearby recent village Abusir. It is situated on western Nile bank on the edge of Libyan tableland approximately 20 kilometers to the south-west of Cairo. The name of this locality is derived from ancient Egypt god Osiris, from Per Usir (Busiris), "(cult) place of Osiris" (Busiris in Greek).

  • Researches in Western desert

    Czech egyptology is successful in researching not only on pyramidal fields in Abusir recently, but also in supporting and organizing smaller expeditions into egyptian Western desert. Czech expedition has been working even in slowly evanescent oasis El-Hajez since 2003, which is situated about 400 km to the south-west from Cairo.

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