The Hatti Civilization

in Anatolia, the Land of Great Civilizations...

The Hatti1 Civilization (c 2,500 - 2,000/1,700 BC)

There seems to be more research on the eastern civilizations, such as the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and the western civilizations, such as the Greeks and Romans, than the Asia Minor civilizations. The consequences of the lack of study are the late discovery of the the Hittite civilization and almost missing the Hatti (Hattian) civilization. Most of our knowledge about protohistoric Hattis is derived from the Hittite texts and artifacts. So there seems to be a need for more research. A few of scholars stand out in their interest in the Hattis.

The challenge of archaeologists is putting together pieces of puzzle and reconstructing events with scant evidences left from the ancient times. So it is inevitable that deriving conclusions is difficult and scholars might end up with different views. Divergence of views on the history of the Hatties is no exception. The Hattis were mentioned for the first time in the Akkadian (2350 - 2150 BC) texts. According to one view2, the Hatties were indigenous people, they preceded Hittites, lived in small states, had a long existence, and influenced the Hittite culture deeply, and in some sense lived as part of it. The Hittites, on the other hand, were an Indo-European people, who possibly migrated from the Caucasus, and called themselves Nesili (or Nesite, their language was also called Nesite) first when they arrived in Asia Minor. Initially they lived side by side with the Hattis in different kingdoms. Later though they took over the land of the Hatti's, absorbed the people and their culture. This was not exactly assimilation; it was more merging of two cultures. Nesili tribes, initially were in some sense less civilized than the Hattis but, were more aggressive. They were known as great warriors. So the Nesilis (Hittites) adopted not only Asia Minor as their new homeland but also the culture and religion of the Hattis. They called themselves Hittites, which is a term derived from the word Hattis. They called their new adopted land, the land of the Hatti's. In religious ceremonies, the Hittite priests occasionally inserted phrases borrowed from the Hatti religion in their prays. Unfortunately other than these few phrases, we know little about the Hattian language.

According to another view3 though it is doubtful that Hittites invaded Asia Minor. Also there is no clear evidence that Hittites were Indo-European. This view also opposes the idea that the Nesilis called themselves Hittites. Nevertheless, it seems like there is a consensus that there were the Hattis and some Indo-European tribes in Asia Minor long time before the Hittite kingdom was established. The Hattis and the Nesilis might have lived side by side some time together with other tribes in the region.

Yet, according to another view4, the Hattians migrated to Asia Minor from the Caucasus possibly after Hittites and some other Indo-European tribes, such as Luwians and Palaites. In other words, they were not indigenous people. However, they were the first to settle in Central Anatolia. The Hattian impact on the Hittites was more in cult, mythology, and art, where as Hittites dominated in the government and war affairs.

Known Hatti sites are Alacahöyük near Çorum, Amasya, Mahmatlar in the Pontic region, and Horoztepe near Tokat. The artifacts excavated, such as Earthenware vessels, gold and silver cups, bronze figurines, and sun disks in these sites give us clues about the development level of the Hatti civilization.


  1. Hattis (Hattians).
  2. See Ekrem Akurgal.
  3. See Bryce
  4. See Burney


1. Akurgal, Ekrem, "Anadolu Kültür Tarihi," TÜBİTAK Popüler Bilim Kitaplari, April 2008, ISBN 978-975-403-107-2.

2. Bryce, Trevor, "The Kingdom of the Hittites," Oxford University Press, Inc. New York, 1998, p 11-14.

3. Burney, Charles, "Historical Dictionary of the Hittites," by , The Scarecrow Press, 2004 p.105-106

4. Sander, Oral, "The Complexity of the Process of Civilization," Ancient Anatolia as a Case in Point p. 88-101, The Process of Civilization, 1977 the Turkish Yearbook, vol. XVII.