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Hittite domestic and foreign policy in the old kingdom

Hetherington, LG 1962 , 'Hittite domestic and foreign policy in the old kingdom', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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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.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Hetherington, LG
Keywords: Hittites
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

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).

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Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1963

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