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Chapter 4
This webpage reproduces a chapter of
A History of Armenia

by Vahan M. Kurkjian

published by the
Armenian General Benevolent Union of America

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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Chapter 6

p26 Chapter V
The Hittite Empire

First Appearance

The Hittites first appeared in history in the twentieth century B.C., as inhabitants of the Anatolian plateau with the city of Hattushash — the modern village of Boghaz-Keuy in Turkey — as their capital. The Hittites were a composite people, fundamentally of Asian origin, but dominated by Indo-European aristocratic elements from the neighborhood of the Bosporus. Their culture, a mixture of indigenous elements, has been enriched by borrowings from the Chaldean. Parts of the Hittite texts, especially the rock inscriptions, were written in a peculiar hieroglyphic script not yet completely deciphered. But at the same time the Hittites also used the Chaldean cuneiform letters. Archaeological expeditions have discovered in Hattushash entire sets of royal archives in cuneiform tablets, written either in the Semite Babylonian, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation.

The Hittites worshipped Teshub, the great god of mountain summits and of the thunder — whose symbolic emblems were the hatchet and the bull — and the great goddess, prototype of the Greek Kybele. After settling in Asia Minor and occupying Cappadocia, Phrygia, Lydia, Pontus and parts of Armenia and Cilicia, the Hittites began, in the twentieth century B.C., to make forays also into northern Syria and Mesopotamia. In 1925 B.C., they invaded and plundered Babylon and destroyed the dynasty of Hammurabi. More than five centuries later, in 1375, they subdued the powerful kingdom of the Mitanni, southwest of Armenia, at the great bend of the Euphrates River.

p27 The Hittite empire then stretched from the Black Sea and Lydia to the frontiers of Assyria. In the south, it established its suzerainty over North Syria in 1350 B.C. In 1295 it was defeated by Rameses II at Qadesh (the modern Tel-Nebi‑Mend) near Homs, yet the Egyptians were forced to yield the northern half of Syria to the Hittites. A treaty of alliance between the two nations was concluded in 1279. From 1229 to 1192 B.C. the Hittite Empire suffered periodic invasions by the maritime Aegean hordes. Then simultaneously came the disastrous attacks by the Thraco-Phrygians from the northeast and the Assyrians from the Southeast. The latter became the master of parts of Syria and Mesopotamia; then in 1110 they subjugated the dwindling Hittite kingdom of Carchemish (modern Jerablus, on the west bank of the Euphrates). In 1060 the Hittites regained this stronghold and held it until 715, when they were finally absorbed into the Assyrian Empire.

Successors of the Chaldeans

In the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries B.C., the Hittites played a dominant role in the politics of western Asia, becoming, in partnership with the Egyptians, successors to the ancient Chaldean Empire. For a while, when the Babylon of the Kassite kings was dormant, they became the link between the ancient civilization of Chaldea and the subsequent Assyrian civilization.

Thanks to the labors of German, French and Czechoslovak scientists, Hittite art has now been identified, through excavations at Boghaz-Keuy and Yazili-Kaya (Cappadocia), at Ibriz (Lycaonia), Malatia (lesser Armenia), Carchemish and Zenjirli on the Syro-Cilician frontier. Although inspired by the ancient Chaldean art and by certain modes of the Egyptian — even by Mycenean Greek architecture — Hittite art has been proved to have had a stamp of real originality.

Architectural Designs

By studying the divine procession of the rock temple of Yazili-Kaya, or the splendid relievo of the Sun-god on the calcareous block of Boghaz-Keuy, one discovers a branch of Mesopotamian art as effective as the Chaldean, omitting however, the episodical detail of the Assyrian.

p28 Carchemish

The second archaeological group is that of Carchemish (14th to 9th centuries, B.C.). Some of the relief carvings of these groups disclose more affinity with the ancient Sumero-Akkadian art than with the Assyrian. On more recent reliefs, scenes of royal and civilian life take precedence over religious subjects.


The Zenjirli group (14th to 8th century B.C.) displays beautiful bases of columns, formed by two conjugated sphinxes in the Mesopotamian manner; in the same style, a number of lions guarding the gates, with bodies in relief. The lion and sphinx seem to have inspired the lion and cherub-guardians of the gates of the palace of Sargon.

In addition to the hunting scenes in Zenjirli and Carchemish, there are representations of the god Teshub, armed with thunder, and fine types of Hittite warriors in their national costume — tiara-bonnet, a twisted braid of hair striking the nape, and long-tipped belt fringes falling to the thigh, shoes with recurved toes. To the north of Zenjirli, at Malatia, there has been preserved a beautiful bas-relief (now in Paris), representing a prince riding his chariot in chase of the stag. This work, executed about 1000 B.C., has been regarded as a prototype of hunting scenes of the Assyrian bas-reliefs.

Hittite Influence

The Hurri-Mitanni kingdom of Armenia kept close contact with its western neighbor, Hittite or Hatti land. Masses of population were often transplanted from one country to the other. The Manda — warriors of the Mitanni — had been living in Hatti as a privileged class. For two and a half centuries, the Hurri-Mitanni ruled over the Hatti. In Katmuch, the "rebellious" Hatti troops and the Moschi were united against Tiglat-Pileser II in 1130 B.C. Later on, Hatti warriors fled before the Phrygian-Moski and crossed to the eastern side of the Euphrates. Urartean kings took over from the Hatti the lower area of the Arzanias (Murad Su) — the eastern branch of the Euphrates, which includes the cities of Palu, Harpout (Harberd) and Malatia (Melitine). Argistis I of Urartu transferred 6,600 persons from Hatti land to his own country. Rusas II successfully p29warred against the Hittites in the seventh century B.C. Even in the second century B.C., the Armens under Arataxias and Zariadres (Artashes and Zareh) took the region of Ekelisine (Ekeghiatz-Erzinjan) from the Kataons, that is, from the Khita or Hittites.

This age-long relationship, sometimes friendly, at other times hostile, brought about mixtures in language and blood, creating the "Hittite" type among the Armenians, and a store of words common to the two peoples; also a similarity in architecture, sculpture and the crafts.


Another storm, coming from the West and through the straits, burst upon Asia Minor in 1200 B.C. This cataclysm is known as the Thracian-Phrygian or "Sea-People's" invasion. The only known evidences of this catastrophe are found in the ruins of Troy, in the sudden interruption of the Hittite inscriptions, and a short record from the Pharaoh Rameses III (1200‑1168 B.C.), which reads, "People dwelling in the islands came forth . . . spread immediately. No nation whatsoever could resist their soldiers. All were devastated. They were marching towards Egypt, the flames of torches preceding them. . . ."

These invaders must have clashed with Assyria, whose military and commercial outposts at that period reached to the Euphrates. Recently discovered Assyrian inscriptions refer to certain tribes of the conquering army, among which were the Mosks or Musks. In 1170 B.C. the Muskayas captured from Assyria the countries known as Alze (Aghtznik) and Purukkuzi, to the east of the Euphrates. These were the Moschesº of the Greeks, a people in the Pontus Mountains lands, scattered through eastern Asia Minor, after the fall of the Hatti empire. This revolution in the political world was the result of a famine in southern Russia during the time of Assurdan I of Assyria (1192‑1157 B.C.), which compelled some of the population to emigrate to the southern side of the Black Sea; others were deported.

By the incursion of the Sea-Peoples, the frontier of Hither Asia was pushed from the Aegean and Adriatic Seas back to the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers. The Mushki state, one of those created east of Hatti after the latter's fall, with its center in Cappadocia, had, in the half century following 1075 B.C. or thereabouts, expanded its rule as far as the land of Alshe (Alze) and beyond, to p30the Lake of Van. The terror they spread was still reechoing in man's memories in the days of the priest-prophet Ezekiel. He was one of the 8,000 Jews taken to Babylonia in the first exile, 597 B.C. In his Lamentations for Tyre, Ezekiel cites the Meshek (Mushki), together with other neighboring or related peoples.1

Later on, Sargon of Assyria (722‑705) tells in his inscriptions of victories over several nations, among which were the Moschi, under King Mita; "I gave my daughter to Ambaris (Ampalis?), King of Khilakku (Cilicia). He was unfaithful to me and allied himself with Ursana of Urartu and Mida of Mushki. They (Kusas?) captured my towns and districts in Tabal land . . . Mida sent me tributes. . . . He acknowledged the power of the great god Ashur."

The central location of the Mushki is identified by Forrer as Phrygia. Within its approximate frontiers were Kummuch (Comagene), Millita (Melitene), Til-garium (Gurin), also Divrik, Akn and Arapkir, all west of the Euphrates. Tabal was west of Kummuch. Northwest of Tabal was Khilikku, which at that time included Mozacca-Mazhac (Caesarea). Phrygia was still farther west.

The Mushki were ethnically related to the Tabal, Gamer, Mada, Thorgoma and Ashkenaz (Tabal, Gimmerians, Mitanni, Togarma and Ashkuza-Scythians), all Indo-Europeans. The Armens claim to be the issue of Gamer, Torgom and Ashkenaz. The Mushki therefore had been in southwestern Armenia since the twelfth century B.C.; first as invaders, and then as an important part of the population, finally being absorbed in the Christian nation.

The same people or some of its tribes seem to have settled in other parts of Armenia or near by. The oldest record of a clash between Tiglat-Pileser I (1300 B.C.) and the Mushki was in southern Armenia. Rusas II of Urartu fought against the Mushki-ni on the west (although allied with them later against Assyria). Then, after some centuries, the Roman historian Pliny (23‑79 A.D.) mentions the "Moscheni" on the southern border of Armenia,a which designation properly fits into the name of the population of the southern province of Moks or Mokq, on the river Bohtan — Bit Moksaye in the Assyrian, Moxene in Latin. Marquartº locates the ancient land of Moschi as bordering on the Iberian (Georgian) district of Moshket. The last habitat of the Moschi-Mosches was in Goukarq, one of the northern provinces of Armenia.

p31 As to their origin; Moschi is just another name for the Phrygs, who infiltrated Armenia as Phryg-Armens. It was against them that Rusas II of Urartu (685‑675), waged a war of defence which soon had to be directed against the Gimmers, too. King Mita of the Moschi, and Midas, the founder of the Phrygian kingdom, were one and the same person. In the East these people were called Muski, in the West they were known as Phrygs.

The Biblical story points to a close relationship between them and the Togarmah, Gamer and Ashkenaz. The Armenians have assumed the titles of the "House of Torgom" and the "Ashkenazi Nation." The traditional ancestor of the Armenians, Haik, was a son of Gomer, one of the six sons of Japheth. Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah were the sons of Gomer (Gen., X, 2‑3).

The Author's Note:

1 Ezekiel XXVII, 13 and XXXVIII, 2‑6.

Thayer's Note:

a Pliny mentions the Moscheni on the southern border of Armenia: Pliny does mention the Moschi, but not as living specifically on the southern border of Armenia: in H. N. VI.13 he states that the Moschi live around the headwaters of the largest river of Colchis, now the Rioni River — and thus in what is now central Georgia, to the north of what the Romans called (Greater) Armenia, and to the west of the modern state; in VI.28‑29 Pliny writes that the Moscheni live in valleys adjoining Armenia; his reference to them in V.99 is much vaguer.

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Page updated: 19 Jan 05