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Episode 59 - Hittite 3 The Conquering Lion, Hattusili I

The first king of the Hittites, Hattusili I, thought of himself as a conquering lion. Given his military record, this isn't a completely inappropriate boast. His accomplishments in establishing the Old Hittite Kingdom are far beyond the merely military, but this episode we are going to focus primarily on the parts of his career he was most proud of, his early conquests. Starting from nothing, he builds up a kingdom to rival his grandfather Labarna and his great ancestor Anitta, then goes beyond what they had ever hoped to achieve. Then has his entire kingdom fall apart, rebuilds it from nothing, and goes even farther. He will deal with the Curse of Hattusa in characteristic manner, and show us how Hittite kings throughout history will handle diplomacy and warfare. A busy episode, and we aren't even half done with Great King Hattusili I. Some more maps of Anatolia for reference, click to expand. I am following Gary Beckman's translation of the Siege of Urshu Text (1995) for
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Episode 58 - Hittite 2 Rise of the Hittites

The legendary, and partly mythological, rise of the Hittite kingdom out of the mess of the warring kingdoms of Anatolia is our subject today. Quite a few intertwined stories lead up to our first properly Hittite King, Hattusili I, and we will hear about famous figures such as the Queen of Kanesh, Anitta, and Labarna and the will stars align to allow one kingdom to rise above all the others. Kanesh is also sometimes called Nesa. Hattusa is sometimes called Hattus. I am not completely sure how much of this is the old way of doing things vs new and more correct ways among modern scholars, and how much represents individual cities having multiple names across different ethnic groups. I am going with the most common names for each, for sake of simplicity. I think it may have to do with case endings in the Nesite language, but still, I have gone with the most common versions. Anatolia around Labarna and Anitta's time World situation around now, according to Wikipedia

Episode 57 - Hittite 1 Ancient Anatolia

We begin our series on the Hittites by looking at what came before the Hittites. This episode is a survey of the geography, cultures, and history of Eastern Asia Minor prior to the arrival of the newest player on our stage, the Hittites. The Anatolians have been on the fringes of our story from the conquests of Sargon of Akkad to the trading colonies of Assyria, but until now we have been pretty vague about the conditions and people in the northwest extreme of the Mestopotamian world. Also, we will take a brief look at points west to round out our understanding of the late bronze age world. So, archeology is definitely not my thing, and the early origins part of this show is very heavily skimming over quite a lot of detail. However, if you are interested, I have come across the most amazing book, called the Cambridge World Prehistory, a 2000 page, three volume set from 2014 that covers the pre-history of every region on earth. I am cribbing heavily from the two Anatolian chapters here

Episode 56 - Assyria 3 Obscure Struggles in Assyria

Assyria is deep in a dark age following the fall of Babylon. Struggling to hold on and fighting over its identity, the Assyrians didn't appear to have a whole lot of time for writing stuff down. And so we are going to zoom through from 1740 to the mid 1400's BCE, some three hundred years or so, through some of the vaguest and poorly documented periods that we have encountered so far. It is an important time for defining Assyria's later culture, which makes it all the more tragic that we have so little to say here. Still, I will say what I can because it is important that we keep abreast of developments in this little town. Seriously, now. This may be my most speculative episode yet, and everything from the timeline to the interpretations are subject to change as more evidence gets dug up. But if I had to bet on all the various interpretations, the one I have presented seems most likely.

Episode B3 - Ur 4 Lament for Ur

An interlude in our story. Today, a poem of passionate despair. With the collapse of Sumerian civilization in 2000 BCE, five great laments were written that would continue to be performed and recorded until the end of Mesopotamian civilization some fifteen hundred years later, and may well have survived for a time after that. This episode will be the Lament for Ur, in its entirety, in translation, with as much of the ancient passion that would have infused it as I can manage. I do warn you that the first two verses are very repetitive, and there is an element of mournful repetition in the entire thing, but the very first verse is not representative of the whole thing, so feel free to fast forward a bit if it gets to be a bit too much. Verse 2 starts at time stamp 7:12. The ETCSL Translation is available here:

Episode B2 - Modern 1 Fanciful Notions of Antiquity

 An interlude in our story. We pause today to read a story by HP Lovecraft, the Nameless City, which brings us back to how absolutely incredible it was when modern archeologists re-discovered the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia. This is a work of fiction of course, meant to shock, amaze and horrify, but it is a fun little story as well as a nice reminder that until very, very recently, almost nothing at all was known about things which occurred prior to the Biblical histories. This was a pre-recorded episode saved in case an episode didn't make it out on time, but since tomorrow is the 1 year anniversary of the show, and halloween is coming up, and we are at a nice break between the end of the Old Babylonian series and the start of the next series, this seemed like a good thing to post. Next week will also have an interlude, but one which comes from ancient Mesopotamia itself. I hope you enjoy these little bits of literature. If anyone wants to follow along with the story, the

Episode 55 - Babylon 12 Days of Quiet Prosperity

In a sense, not much happens in this episode. Covering a bit over a century, the borders of Babylon are going to remain more or less stable for most of this episode, and the people are going to enjoy a century of generalized quiet prosperity. Covering the later successors of Hammurabi, Abi-Eshuh, Ammi-Ditana, Ammi-Saduqa, and Samsu-Ditana, we will see scientific and legal advances, good government, and also the quite sudden and total destruction of Babylon, both city and empire.  I am, in all of my discussions of succession today, assuming that each new king is the son of the previous king. Given the extremely long reigns of each monarch, this is almost certainly not the case in at least one or two of them, and at some point a son must surely have been passed over for a grandson. However, it isn't clear which of the kings was a grandson of their predicessor and which was a son, so for simplicity I am just going with son for each, which is what seems to be the standard assumption