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Hittites

People with an Indo-European language who settled in Anatolia (c.2000 BC), possibly from the Ukraine or Caucasus. They founded several kingdoms that dominated native populations, including the non-Indo-European Hatti; by about 1750 BC a unified Hittite state had emerged. The Hittite state was organized on a devolved feudal basis, which could be unstable when succession to the throne was disputed. The high king had supreme power, partly theocratic in nature (after death he gained the status of a god). Little is known about Hittite religion or art. The later history of the Hittites can be divided into three main periods: the Old Kingdom period, New Kingdom (Empire) period and Neo-Hittite period. During the Old Kingdom period (1750-1450 BC), the Hittites established a capital at Kussara, and then at Hattusas (c.1650 BC), extending their rule into north Mesopotamia. Under King Mursilis they briefly annexed Assyria and sacked Babylon (1595 BC), but could not sustain their conquests. Hittite power declined in the 16th century BC in the face of Egyptian and Mittanian expansion and internal instability, and reached a low point in the 15th century BC, when little is known about Hittite affairs. Under the New Kingdom (Empire) period (c.1450- 1190 BC) the revival of the Hittite empire took place, as Mittani power waned and the Egyptians were distracted by internal affairs. The empire reached its greatest extent in about 1325 BC under King Suppiluliumas, who consolidated his rule in Anatolia and conquered northern Syria and the Levant. Confrontations with the Egyptians in the early 13th century BC over control of the Levant ended in stalemate. The collapse of the empire (c.1205-1190 BC) is attributed to Phrygian invasions (which destroyed the capital at Hattusas), attacks by the Sea Peoples and political fragmentation. During the Neo-Hittite period (1190-700 BC), Hittite cultural identity was maintained only in small city-states and kingdoms in south Anatolia and north Syria, the most powerful being Carchemish. The last remnants of Hittite culture were destroyed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC.

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