University Of Tasmania
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Hittite domestic and foreign policy in the old kingdom

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posted on 2023-05-26, 19:35 authored by Hetherington, LG
This thesis has as its objective an analysis of the domestic and foreign policy of the Hittites during the Old Kingdom. It is not possible of course to make an arbitrary distinction between domestic and foreign policy since each inevitably modifies the other. By domestic policy I mean the practices of internal government and politics as they pertained to the Hittite homeland proper and, more specifically, to the Hittite capital. An understanding of their domestic policy in this sense entails the study of political institutions and public affairs of an internal nature. Law, society, religion, economics, art and literature are considered relevant if it is thought that they in any way explain the domestic political practices of the Hittites. The term foreign policy has as its scope an exposition of the expansionist tendencies of the Hittites. This will involve a study of why and how these people extended their domain of rule. It will also treat the way the Hittites governed their conquered territories. This essentially means the history of the Hittites in relationship to the other states of the ancient near east with which they came in contact during the period of the Old Kingdom. It is also necessary to give a definition of feudalism because of the feudal structure of the Old Kingdom. By feudalism I basically mean the granting of land by the king to the members of the nobility. In return the nobility was expected to render stipulated services, such as supplying military contingents, to the king. The nobility retained people on this land and it was they, who in return for a livelihood, owed services to the nobility who in turn owed them to the king. The problem of the order of the presentation of the material is not the least with which this thesis has had to contend. O.R.Gurney in his book \The Hittites\" has as his first chapter an outline of Hittite history. His second chapter consists of a study of the Hittite state and society. This chapter is divided into five sections which deal with the king the queen social classes the government and foreign policy. Chapters III and IV treat Hittite life and economy and law and institutions respectively. Chapter V deals with warfare and thus the scheme of presentation continues. Such mechanics of presentation have much to recommend them. For example one can easily find the specific topic one is looking for. The chief criticism I have to make of such an ordering of the material is that it does not make manifest to the fullest extent the fact that the Hittites were essentially a developing progressive people. This method of presentation does not allow the sequential plotting of the development of this remarkable people. At least it certainly does not allow one to do so with facility. The Hittite state and society has a marked bearing on Hittite history just as Hittite history explains much of the Hittite state and society. The two are not separable. Therefore if one is to gain a clear picture of the development of Hittite domestic and foreign policy such topics as the kingship social classes and foreign policy must be St;an in their historical framework. That is the monarch must be seen as it was in the earliest period of Hittite history and then as it was in the various phases of the Old Kingdom. Gurney does indeed attempt to show the development of Hittite government and foreign policy. But the fact that his first chapter is devoted to an outline of Hittite history makes repetition necessary in those sections dealing with government and foreign policy. And being aware of repetition even though the mechanics of presentation demand it an author tends to guard against it. Hence the line of progress is hard to realise to its fullest extent. I do not mean to recommend facility to the exclusion of more important considerations. But if facility in tracing the growth of the political and imperial life of the Hittites can be gained by employing a different method of presentation of material which does not exclude other factors such as accuracy then I see no good reason for not attempting to realise a clearer picture of Hittite development. Thus I have decided to use as a skeleton framework for this thesis the chronological order of Hittite kings. That is those events and activities which are to be assigned to Labarnas will be treated in a chapter devoted to that king. Similarly with Hattusilis I and Mursilis I. The Hittites possessed a very acute sense of historical process of the past affecting the present and the present dictating the course of the future. One of the most characteristic traits of reigning Hittite-Icings is to hark back to the activities of their predecessors. It is perhaps not altogether fruitless to speculate that the Hittites would be happiest having their story presented in the manner I propose. Probably the greatest pitfall to be avoided in any work to do with an incompletely documented period of history is to claim irrefutable _truths and patterns from the material available. Even when all the surviving material has been brought to light a resignation to incompleteness and uncertainty must still prevail. This is quite obviously the case with the Hittites and always shall be. Where the inevitable lacunae occur one may reasonably Infer on the basis of what is known what was most likely to have happened. But I believe that it is possible to do even better than that. More richly documented periods of history modern and ancient often offer likely analogies. These can be of inestimable value in the attempt to fill lacunae. At the end of the thesis I have appended a note on the chronology of the Old Kingdom. The problems associated with Hittite chronology are of an especially difficult nature because of the dearth of evidence directly related to chronology. A great deal of reliance has to be placed on outside evidences of a synchronistic nature. I feel that it is necessary to offer an explanatory note in respect to the first two chapters of this thesis. Much of what is contained in these chapters is the result of employing what we might well call the principle of retrospective probability. That is many of the statements especially those concerning the origins of the Hittites are inferred from a study of the Hittites in Anatolia. It is really a question of many of the statements in the first two chapters resulting from an analysis of the evidence of the Hittites when they became an historical people. Asa result these statements concerning Hittite origins and geography being based in the way they are may be justifiably employed to help explain the nature of Hittite political forms and imperial practices. The statements must not be seen as being mere assumptions which explain various characteristics of Hittite domestic and foreign policy. They are ideas arising from the knowledge of the Hittites as a reasonably well documented people in historical times. I believe that it is scholastically reasonable to work on the basis that historical knowledge suggests the geographic origins of the Hittites and that the likelihood of these origins permits one to try and determine what possible bearing they may have had on the Hittite achievement. But because this thesis is arranged chronologically in so far as it has been possible it has been thought best to place these two chapters at the beginning of the thesis. Finally it is hoped that in the future this thesis will be extended to include the New Empire. The Old Kingdom is to be seen as an historical unit or entity in itself but much of what occurred in the Old Kingdom undoubtedly made possible in many respects the Hittite political and imperial achievement under such kings of the New Empire as Suppiluliumas Mursilis II Muwatallis and Hattusilis III."


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Copyright 1962 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1963

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