Hittites arrived in Anatolia circa 2000 BC, possibly
from the Sea of Azov. Small city-states existed several centuries
before strong rulers consolidated power and territory. Two early rival kingdoms were Zalpa (aka Zalpuwa,
probably at ancient Ikiztepe) in the north and Kanesh, near a large
salt lake called Tuz. Circa 1780 BC, king Pithana and his son,
Anitta, of the Kussara Kingdom conquered Kanesh. Anitta later
captured Hattusa and Zalpa.
Founder of the Hittite Kingdom was Labarna I (between 1600 and 1450 BC), probably aka Hattusili I. His forces
expanded territory and unsuccessfully attacked Aleppo.
His successor, Mursili I, captured the city, along with Mari and
Babylonia in 1535 BC. Internal dissent caused Mursili
to withdraw from Babylon shortly after the
city fell in 1531 BC. He relinquished Babylonia to his allies, the Kassites.
Upon his return home, assassins hired by his brother-in-law (Hantili I) killed Mursili and the kingdom devolved into chaos.
This was a period (circa 1500 BC) of Hittite weakness. Kaska
people from Pontus staged frequent attacks. The Hittites
signed treaties with rival people, becoming known for their pioneer efforts at diplomacy.
NEW KINGDOM (HITTITE EMPIRE):
Tudhaliya I (early 14th century BC) started the Hittite New Kingdom. His major accomplishment was the conquest
of the Assuwa League circa 1400 BC. The League included
Taruisa (Troy) and Karkija (Caria).
Tudhaliya also allied with the kingdom of Kizzuwatna to
conquer Aleppo and Mari. He later conquered much of Arzawa.
Enemies razed Hattusa during a weak period after Tudhaliya's reign. Circa 1350 BC, Hittites regained
dominance of the region under king Suppiluliuma I. Queen Dakhamunzu requested to marry his son,
Zannanza, and offered him the throne of
Egypt. However, Zannanza died while sailing to Egypt. Former
Egyptian vizier declared himself Pharaoh Ay. This infuriated
Suppiluliuma, whose armies seized Syria and made
Mitanni a client state. A plague carried by Egyptian
prisoners ravaged the Hittite homeland and killed Suppiluliuma.
Circa 1274 BC, Pharaoh Ramesses II led an army
against Hittite forces in the Battle of Kadesh. Timely
reinforcements countered the Hittite chariots
and prevented an Egyptian disaster. Hittite forces under king Muwatalli II withdrew to the
Kadesh fortress. Both sides claimed a victory. The new Egyptian light chariots proved superior to heavy
Hittite ones, but Muwatalli consolidated his rule over the Upu (aka Apu) region near modern
The rise of Assyria undermined both Egypt and the
Hittite Empire. King Shalmaneser I vanquished
Hurrian kingdoms and Mittani.
Hattusili III became king (1267-1237 BC) after ousting
his nephew, Mursili III, in a brief civil war. He later concluded a peace treaty and alliance by
presenting his daughter to Pharaoh Ramesses III.
Despite the strong rule of Tudhaliya IV, Assyria continued
to seize territory from the Hittites. Sea Peoples
swarmed into the Mediterranean, destroying or weakening numerous kingdoms and empires in the region.
Circa 1180 BC, invaders burned Hattusa and ended Hittite rule.