Something Completely Different: The Hittites

Like most people, I suppose, I am aware of the Hittites only as bit players in the Old Testament. In my imagining, they have always been primitive at best. So I was surprised to come across this silver drinking cup in the shape of a fist, which is in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts:

The museum’s site places the vessel in the Hittite New Kingdom during the reign of Tudhaliya III in the 14th century B.C. It comes from central Anatolia. The Oxford Companion to the Bible says that the Anatolian Hittites are distinguished from those encountered in Canaan. They had been forgotten until their civilization was unearthed by archaeologists in the early 20th Century:

Inscriptions show that the Hittites set up their kingdom about 1750 BCE, and that from about 1380 to 1200 BCE they rivaled the Egyptians and the Babylonians in international affairs. Their armies marched into Syria, where they faced Egyptian forces. After decades of war, the battle of Qadesh (ca. 1259 BCE) led to a treaty that established a line across northern Lebanon, the frontier between their zones of influence. This line provided the limit for Israel’s territory (Josh. 1.4; 2 Sam. 24.6 [emended]).

An interesting glimpse into ancient history and, in my opinion, an impressive piece of 3,500-year-old art.


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