Ancient History Encyclopedia has a new name!

We are now World History Encyclopedia to better reflect the breadth of our non-profit organization's mission. If you have bookmarks or links to our site on your blog or website, please update them. Learn More

The Hittites: Quiet Pioneers of Mesopotamia


published on 18 January 2012
Send to Google Classroom:

While its origins remain mysterious even today, the Hittite Empire was one of the most significant of the Mesopotamian kingdoms, powerful enough to bring down the commanding Babylonians and their strict ways of life. The Hittites burst on to the Mesopotamian scene sometime around the late 18th century BCE.. At its height, the Hittite Empire covered Anatolia, northern Syria, and the northern regions of Mesopotamia. Its capital was located at Hattusas, in northern Anatolia.

The Hittite people were seemingly enigmas. Their geographic origins are still not completely understood, and their language was obscure and indecipherable for a very long time. Today, though, we know that the language of the Hittite peoples was one from the Indo-European language family, specifically from the Anatolian branch. This language family also includes the Indian languages, Latin, German, Greek, and English. Very little evidence of the language remains, other than in the form of laws and administrative announcements.

Remove Ads


Map of the Hittite Empire
Map of the Hittite Empire
Ikonact (CC BY-SA)

When the Hittites invaded Mesopotamia, they adapted many of the ways of life of the Babylonians and even of the Sumerians, that had been in place for centuries. Specifically, they adopted the religion of the region, worshipping and embracing the gods of Babylonia and Sumeria as their own. One governmental modification they made was to modify the stringent laws that had been put into place by former kings like Hammurabi. The strictness of the legal system was eased, and far fewer deaths resulted from crimes. The king also became sole owner of all the land in his territory, which was vastly different from empires like the Sumerians, whose king allowed the ownership of private property. Under the Hittites, in order for a person to control (not own) land of any kind, he had to serve in the army of the king.

Remove Ads


While much of the history of the Hittites is quite mysterious, we know now that their empire is one of the most important from Mesopotamia. The Hittites were very skillful in the construction of chariots, and were vanguards of the Iron Age. They were among the earliest peoples to produce iron tools and artifacts (as early as the 14th century BCE), and consequently were able to establish a successful economy of trade and commerce.

The size of the Hittite territory allowed them to trade with peoples throughout the Mediterranean and into Egypt. With this ability to trade also came the exchange and teaching of Mesopotamian ideas, history, politics, and economic and social concepts. Thus, the Hittites were hugely responsible for passing on the thoughts and ideas of all the Mesopotamian people that had come before them, like the Babylonians, the Sumerians, and the Amorites, and enlightening the rest of the world - and history – about them.

Love History?

Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter!

Stela of the God Hadad
Stela of the God Hadad
Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin (CC BY-NC-SA)

The Hittite Empire flourished from around 1600 - 1200 BCE, until the Assyrians came through and took control of Mesopotamia. However, the cities of the HIttites managed to retain some independent control over Mesopotamia, and prosper economically, at least until the Assyrians finally overcame them all by 717 BCE. Though thay are not among the most notorious of the Mesopotamians, the Hittites were certainly among the most influential, revolutionizing ironworking and educating other civilizations about the Mesopotamian ways of life.

Editorial Review This article has been reviewed for accuracy, reliability and adherence to academic standards prior to publication.
Remove Ads




We want people all over the world to learn about history. Help us and translate this article into another language!

Support Our
Non-Profit Organization

World History Encyclopedia is a non-profit organization. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide.

Become a Member  

Recommended Books

Sorry, we haven't been able to find any books on the subject.

Cite This Work

APA Style

writer873, . (2012, January 18). The Hittites: Quiet Pioneers of Mesopotamia. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

writer873, . "The Hittites: Quiet Pioneers of Mesopotamia." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified January 18, 2012.

MLA Style

writer873, . "The Hittites: Quiet Pioneers of Mesopotamia." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 18 Jan 2012. Web. 09 May 2021.