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The Hattians were an ancient people who inhabited the land of Hatti in central Anatolia (present-day Turkey). The group was documented at least as early as the empire of Sargon of Akkad (c. 2300 BC), until it was gradually absorbed c. 2000–1700 BC by the Indo-European Hittites, who became identified with the "land of Hatti".
The oldest name for central Anatolia, "Land of the Hatti", was found on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of Sargon the Great of Akkad c. 2350–2150 BC: on those tablets Assyrian-Akkadian traders implored King Sargon for help. This appellation continued to exist for about 1,500 years until 630 BC, as stated in Assyrian chronicles. According to later Hittite documents, Sargon the Great had fought with the Luwian king Nurdaggal of Burushanda, while Sargon's successor Naram-Sin of Akkad had battled Pamba, king of Hatti and 16 other confederates.
The use of the word "Proto-Hittite" to refer to Hattians is inaccurate. Hittite (natively known as Nešili, "[in the language] of Neša") is an Indo-European language, linguistically distinct from the Hattians. The Hittites continued to use the term Land of Hatti for their new kingdom. The Hattians eventually merged with people who spoke Indo-European languages like Hittite, Luwian, and Palaic.
The Hattians were organised in city-states and small kingdoms or principalities. These cities were well organized and ruled as theocratic principalities.
The Hattians spoke Hattic, a non-Indo-European language of uncertain affiliation. Hattic is now believed by some scholars to be related to the Northwest Caucasian language group. Trevor Bryce writes:
Evidence of a 'Hattic' civilization is provided by the remnants of one of the non-Indo-European languages found in the later Hittite archives.The language is identified in several of the texts in which it appears by the term hattili- '(written) in the language of Hatti.' The few texts that survive are predominantly religious or cultic in character. They provide us with the names of a number of Hattic deities, as well as Hattic personal and place-names.
About 150 short specimens of Hattian text have been found in Hittite cuneiform clay tablets. Hattian leaders perhaps used scribes who wrote in Old Assyrian. Ekrem Akurgal wrote (2001-5): "The Anatolian princes used scribes knowing Assyrian for commerce with Mesopotomia as at Kanesh (Kültepe)" to conduct business with Assyria. From the 21st to the mid-18th centuries BC, Assyria established trade outposts in Hatti, such as at Hattum and Zalpa.
Scholars have long assumed that the predominant population of the region of Anatolia "in the third millennium [BC] was an indigenous pre-Indo-European group called the Hattians.", but it is thought possible that speakers of Indo-European languages were also in central Anatolia by then. Hattian became more ergative towards the New Hittite period. This development implies that Hattian remained alive until at least the end of the 14th century BC.
The scholar Petra Goedegebuure has proposed that before the conquest of the Hittites, an Indo-European language, probable Luwian, had already been spoken alongside the Hattic language for a long time. Alexei Kassian proposed that the Northwest Caucasian languages (also known as Abkhazo-Adyghe), which are syntactically subject–object–verb, had lexical contacts with Hattian.
Hattian religion traces back to the Stone Age. It involved worship of the earth, which is personified as a mother goddess; the Hattians honored the mother goddess to ensure their crops and their own well-being. The Hattian pantheon of gods included a storm-god, a sun-goddess and a number of other elemental gods. Later on the Hittites subsumed much the Hattian pantheon into their own religious beliefs. The Hattian religion was based on the principal ideas of the old Near East: that everything in nature and the cosmos was alive and was penetrated by divine forces. This concerned the visible world of the people, like the sky and the stars, the earth, vegetation, animals, rocks, mountains, rivers and springs; but also the atmospheric signs, like storms, thunder, lighting, rain, and their consequences like fertility and dryness. In such a religion, the powers of the universe and the phenomena of nature are conscious living identities, acting by themselves: they are gods. Each object contains non-visible natural powers, which belong to the whole universe. Each of these natural powers are admitted in the great divine phenomena of a cult. In early times the distance between man and the divine supernatural powers was very large. Man had a strong belief in the oneness and the interaction between everything that existed and was alive. Why did man imagine the divine powers as gods with a human figure? Probably it was a way of taming the obscure and dangerous world around them. Man was trying to deal with the divine powers, so they tried to deal with somebody, the gods, who have power over these forces. With promises and gifts man tried to get protection and prosperity. “Do ut Des”, I give with the purpose that you will give, is the foundation of the prayers and offers to the Gods. Often there was a belief in a life after death. The gods are immortal, but in the old Anatolian myths, the gods need food and beverages, and like humans, gods can be jealous, angry, revengeful, but also friendly, helpful or generous. Like humans, gods cannot be only good or only evil. So humans try to be on good terms with the gods via cultic rituals. The concept of the earth-bound deity was deeply rooted in the indigenous Hattian consciousness from prehistoric times. James Mellaart has proposed that the indigenous Anatolian religion revolved around a water-from-the-earth concept. Pictorial and written sources show that the deity of paramount importance to the inhabitants of Anatolia was the terrestrial water-god. Many gods are connected with the earth and water. In Hittite cuneiform, the terrestrial watergod is generally represented with dIM. The Stormgods of Anatolia were written with about one hundred catalogue variants of dU, mostly the names of the stormgods in Anatolia are described as the Stormgod of Hatti or with a city name.
Some scholars thought that Hattians and Hittites had perhaps different personal characteristics, though most Anatolian societies in the Bronze Age were multi-lingual. Egyptian depictions of the Battle of Kadesh reportedly show long-nosed Hattian soldiers, while their Hittite leaders looked different according to Turkish archaeologist Ekrem Akurgal. But we do not know who those Hittites were, the soldiers of the Hittite army were certainly not from one language group. Also the kings of Hatti were not from one ethnic type, they married for example with princesses of foreign kingdoms, like Babylon, Ammuru and Kizzuwanda. There is no proof that the Hattians looked distinctly different from the other Anatolians of the Bronze Age as there is little evidence as to the appearance of any of the Bronze Age Anatolian tribes, Hattians and Hittites included.
- Trevor Bryce, The Kingdom of the Hittites: New Edition, Oxford University Press, 2005. p.12
- Historical dictionary of the Hittites by Charles Burney, Scarecrow Press, 2004. p.106
- Bryce, 2005, op. cit., p.12
- Bryce 2005:12 and 13
- Published in Proceedings of the 53e Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Vol. 1: Language in the Ancient Near East (2010)
- Petra Goedegebuure 2008 Central Anatolian Languages and Language Communities in the Colony Period: A Luwian-Hattian Symbiosis and the independent Hittites. OAAS volume 3 Leiden
- Kassian, Alexei. 2009. Ugarit Forschungen Band 41, 403
- C. Scott Littleton (2005). Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology. Marshall Cavendish. pp. 692–. ISBN 978-0-7614-7559-0. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- Charles Burney (19 April 2004). Historical Dictionary of the Hittites. Scarecrow Press. pp. 19–. ISBN 978-0-8108-6564-8. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- Green, Alberto. R.W. (2003). The Storm-God in the Ancient Near East. Wioana Lake: Eisenbrauns. pp. 89–103. ISBN 1-57506-069-8.
- Ekrem Akurgal, The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations, Publications of the Republic of Turkey: Ministry of Culture, 2001, p.8 Akurgal writes here: "The large-nosed soldiers identified as "Hitti" in the Egyptian temple depictions of the Battle of Kadesh show a different ethnic type from their [Hittite Indo-European ?] kings in the same scenes".
- Akurgal, Ekrem - The Hattian and Hittite Civilizations; Publications of the Republic of Turkey; Ministry of Culture; 2001; 300 pages; ISBN 975-17-2756-1