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How the Hittite Laws Were Historically Significant to Ancient Anatolia, Research Paper Example

Pages: 11

Words: 3033

Research Paper

Introduction

Hittite laws were mainly conserved in a number of tablets called the Hittite cuneiform tablets. Copies of Hittite laws have been found written in the three Hittite generation forms; old Hittite, middle and the late Hittite an indication that the Hittite laws were valid in all the Hittite empire regions. The Hittite laws were not only helpful to the Hittite warriors to aid them in colonizing but also to native societies like ancient Anatolia who the laws were subjected to. These laws played key role in the civilization and development that was experienced by the ancient Anatolia before the collapse of the Hittite dynasty.

The Hittite laws were developed as case laws[1].  These laws when compared to other laws in existence during this period was viewed to be very lineate since they were very discrete in maintaining the sanctity of life with reduced death penalties as compared to other types of laws during this period. Key or capital law offenses instead of being ruled using death penalties were penalized through enslavement or forced labor; a tough rule but one that is better than losing one’s life. The laws were categorized into 8 groups all of which had similar clause.

The first 24 clauses were about aggregation and assault; the second group of clauses (26-38) was about marital relationships, the third clauses group (39-56) about obligations and service, the fourth group (57-144) about property assaults on theft and property. The fifth group of Hittite laws (145-161) concerned contracts and prices while the sixth and the seventh groups discussed bout sacral matters and contract and tariffs respectively. The last group of clauses was on sexual relations. The Hittite laws were never edited with most of the tablets that have been excavated showing that the only corrections that could have been made were grammatical changes.

The Hittite society has mysterious origins and was able to rule a large empire that stretched from Palestine to Syria and the Mesopotamia. Since their origin is mysterious, their native language is not known with only speculations that the Hittites were Indo-European which included a combination of languages such as German, English, Greek, Russia, Persian and Latin among other languages. The development and invasion of the Hittite society resulted to the collapse of the Babylonian empire that used cruel laws in its reign. In most cases, after the conquering if the Babylonians and their regimes, the Hittites adopted some of their laws a way of signaling indirect rule.

The territories that the Hittite society conquered continue to stay put up to around 717 BC when most of the territories were conquered by Assyrians. Due to these humane kind laws the Hittite society was able to capture the greatest empires during the 1600-1290 BC. However the Hittite society was not welcomed by other societies so easily. In most cases, the Hittites had to wage war against the other societies such as the Egyptians who referred to the Hittite society as barbaric to the society hence highly contribute to the instabilities that were experienced in these regions at times resulting to the drainage of the Hittite.

Other than having an historic popularity due to the large empire they reined they were also know for their active participation in trading and commerce.  This resulted to the development of civilized class in the Mediterranean region. Hence the Hittite society played very important role in the transformation of the Mediterranean or Mesopotamian history using political structure, economic structure and law. The Hittite were key contributors on the development of the great traders culture in this region which was only modifies and adopted by the other people who alter inhabited this region.

In religion perspective, the Hittites adopted gods from other societies such as the ones of Babylonians and the Sumerians. The Hittite however recognized all gods as legitimate gods a policy that enabled them to accept gods from other societies readily. When the Hittite society conquered a society, they ensured they adopted their religion. It’s due to their tendency to adopt the religion of the society they conquered that they easily managed to conquer the many empires they reined.

The Hittites invaded the Mesopotamia region in the third millennium B.C through the mountains of Caucasus in to the Anatolia. They were mainly bronze working society with chariot borne warrior who fought for the society to conquer the different societies that they imposed their political and social organization making the regions their dominions. However the Hittites regimes did not survive for long since in the 1200 B.C. some rebel groups started against the Hittites such as the Phrygians who burned the Hattusas’ hence resulting to the collapse of the society[2] .

The ancient Anatolia society also had its own interesting history. The society is believed to have composed of over 87 different language speaking groups which was the reason why the indo-European language arose which is believed to have started in Anatolia.

The Ancient Anatolia religion believed that world was a flat disc which was surrounded by a hollow space then an upper layer called heaven. Most of the people who made up the ancient Anatolia society were polytheistic. Other than the above mentioned common believes all people of ancient Anatolia, there were beliefs that were divided on regional basis. However one underlying think that most of the Hittite groups recognized was the sanctity of life a policy that they expressed by the reduction of death and other penalties from the laws hence making people like the ancient Anatolia to enjoy their human rights.

The Hittite laws had significant influence on various cultural factors in ancient Anatolia. After the 1200 BC, the Hittite empires started to collapse resulting to the formation of neo Hittite kingdom which was later conquered by the Assyrians. Other than the Hittites having skills on bronze making they were also black smith and were much known for their carpentry, smiths and pottery work. Some of the Hittites were also peasant which gradually took over the Hittite economy becoming the basic source of economy.

One of the basic diets of Hittites was honey. In addition to being peasant farmers they also kept different types of animals such as donkeys, cattle, sheep and pigs. Since the Hittite laws were able to protect the ancient Anatolia from various frauds such as property dispute and inheritance issues in a decent manner, most of the Hittites felt free to invest in these sectors and hence had a significant to the ancient Anatolia since they experienced tremendous economic growth.

In the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C.E., during the Bronze Age, the Hittite it borne governed a big empire that stretched from northern Syria towards Egypt to Anatolia, Assyria, Babylonia and Ahhiyawa forming what used to be referred as Hittite state1.  The ancient Anatolia region had lots of ores and several furnace sites that where developed as its production centers. The presence of bronze working Indo Europeans speaking people had a direct effect to these people especially in the 2nd and 3rd millennium B.C. The Hittites imposed their political and social organizations in the region where the indigenous of Anatolia were supposed to obey and do as per the Hittite laws. The indigenous of Anatolia were then supposed to pay their taxes, rent and services as per the Hittite laws hence resulting to some for of colonization.

The Hittite laws made the ancient Anatolia people begin obeying a single political organization[3] . Before this, the people here used to live in non political unity groups. The Hittite laws hence had important role in making the people in ancient Anatolia be come united and hence the development of the first dynasty in their region was due to the effects of these laws.

In Ancient Anatolia, the king was viewed as the supreme ruler, with all judiciary authorities vested on him. In addition he was also the high priest and a military commander. The rules of all important cites and provinces in the ancient Anatolia where ruled by persons who were chosen by the president and that they usually had homage and fearly ties a policy that worked to the advantage of the ancient Anatolia and other societies that consisted the Hittites. The fact that the set high courts had the power to even judge the king made these high profile leaders to observe the laws and human rights to the advantage of the ancient Anatolia and other societies. During the Hittite reign in ancient Anatolia, a high court called pankus was developed that is believed to have had powers even to judge the Hittite king himself. This was implemented by Telepinus the president who reined the region in the 1525 BCE. In addition he was also the most reformist president resulting to organization of internal and religious affairs.

The Hittite laws were stored on several Hittite cuneiform tablets and have been found in existence in collections of old, middle and late Hittite suggesting their validity in these periods. The laws were formulated as case laws starting with a condition the ending with a ruling. The Hittite laws penalties raged from enslaved false labor to death penalties and were stored on 2 stone tablets separately[4] .

Hittites are usually viewed as one of the responsible group of people that are responsible for distribution the Mesopotamia law though in this ancient Anatolia region, in addition they also transmitted economic structure and political.

The laws that the Hittites left in ancient Anatolia can be seen to have been more merciful that the old Babylonians laws[5]. Since the Hittites were not concerned with maintaining a dictatorial central authority in the ancient Anatolia their laws were viewed to have been fairly reasonable, with only few crimes being referred to as capital crimes punishable by death unlike the Babylonian period when there was no sanctity of human life. Hence Hittite laws were significant in the ancient Anatolia since it once again brought the sanctity of life in to the region again.

The Hittite laws modified monarch role in ancient Anatolia giving the king ownership of all land and hence introducing the private property land ownership which was not possible during the Sumerians and Amorites reign. The Hittite laws gave the people in this region the power to have control over individual land hence making most of the people living here change to tenant farmers.

The Hittite laws ensured the ancient Anatolia people developed common religious beliefs where the chief god was the god of thunderstorm and rain. They also had other small gods that were recognized by the Hittite religion such as moon god. Some of the ethnic groups that emerged after the fall of Hittite in the nicety Anatolia adopted these religious beliefs hence making it hard for new religious laws to be implemented in the region.

The Hittite laws in the ancient Anatolia led to the development of ancient legal cultures that strictly observed the laid in set of laws The Hittite laws in ancient Anatolia played key roles not only in maintaining a humane way of solving different crimes but also in helping the people to develop a rich culture they possessed since its also included religious rites observation. The Hittite laws governed how religious rites were conducted in this region and the items that were supposed to be present during the ceremonies. The Hittite laws allowed for the worship of particular gods. The laws emphasized the divine status of the ancient Anatolia gods and hence greatly contributed to the rich culture of the ancient Anatolia’s history and civilization during this period.

Hittite law was a combination of unwritten standards that organized all life areas in ancient Anatolia[6]. The laws included all sorts of people found in the region such as runaway slaves’ legal rights, marriage laws, land tenure, property loss and theft and even laws concerning respect of other people’s property trespassing, blasphemy and incest and rape cases.  The fact that Hittite laws were humane and moderate and that most of the penalties imposed by these laws were in terms of compensation, the ancient Hittites experience a lot of political stability due to the laws they were using even after the collapse of Hittite run.

Most of other states collapsed as the people of the states tried to resist the oppressive rules set in such as the Babylonians laws that included human torture and did not shown and sanctity of human life. The Hittite laws had great significance in the ancient Anatolia since they helped reduce quarrels and bloodshed that commonly occurred when the region was using the Babylonian laws or other forms of laws that did not respect the sanctity of human life or showed discrimination between various classes of people[7] .

Since the laws were accommodative to different groups of people, a custom that was developed by the people, living in this ancient near east region was accommodative to all and hence helped they live in harmony. The signing of various peace deals in ancient Anatolia resulted to the peaceful nature that was experienced in the region during this period. It also resulted to maintenance of peaceful relations between other ancient groups such as Babylon and Assyria. It’s due to the Hittite laws that ancient Anatolia was able to reduce political wars and rather resulted to the exile of the political opponents since they were not given the chance to exercise their powers as all the powers of the laws were vested upon the president.

The Hittite laws recognized the women in the society and counted them as important part of the society. This can be evident through analyzing the responsibilities the Hittites women were given. According to the laws it’s was legally right for the ladies to accompany their husbands to certain ceremonies unlike in most of other societies that were faced with gender discrimination (pp 23). It’s due to this that the whole empire that was governed by the Hittite especially the ancient Anatolia did not have any issues regarding gender discrimination a may significant in the growth of a nation in various aspects. Using the examples of the king’s wife, who were was legally allowed to transact states documents; it shows that the Hittite laws brought to the ancient Anatolia more benefits than the laws they were previously using.

The only weakness that the Hittites laws showed was that it did nit regulate the replacement of native population with foreign ones. This resulted to the great influence on the ancient Anatolia culture, religion, and politics. Some of the laws ensured that a peace treaty was signed incase there was some misunderstanding. The signing of peace treaties like the ones that was signed between the Hittite king and the king of Egypt after the kadesh battle positively transformed the situation hence greatly contributing to the peaceful environment when compared to other regions such as those who were fighting to maintain political dictatorship powers.

Since the Hittite laws were seen as being more humane they were of great significance to the ancient Anatolia since they started demonstrating the need to respect to human nature. These Hittite laws were important to the ancient Anatolia since they helped fight the stigma that was associated with some classes of persons such as slaves. Using the Hittite laws, the ancient Anatolia was free to marry slaves as long as all legal requirements were met.

Conclusion

Hittites played a key role in the growth and civilization of the ancient Anatolia. The Hittites established a well organized ancient society by developing laws that had much significance to the people. One of the significance of these Hittite laws was that unlike the Babylonia or Assyrian laws, the Hittite laws were more humane. These Hittite laws enabled the ancient Anatolia people to be able to solve different issues easily since they were composed of two clauses a problem or conflict and its solution[8].

In addition the Hittite laws were fair when compared to other empire laws since they were not interested in maintaining a political rule and hence did not impose heavy penalties to its people a policy that was of great significance to the ancient Anatolia. The Hittite laws allowed the ancient Anatolia people to freely marry slaves as long as all legal procedures were followed a very significant importance to the Hittites since they were not allowed to marry slaves previously. The Hittite laws enabled the ancient Natalia people to be able to solve different kinds of crimes peacefully a factor that enabled the ancient Anatolia be able to maintain a peaceful environment since the laws that were used in solving different kinds of conflicts whether assault or sexual or even contracts conflicts handled the cases in humane manner.

Other empires were greatly affect by the use of inhumane laws that had heavy penalties such as death penalties for minor cases a situation that resulted to social unrest since the society was always fighting for their rights in such cases. This was not the case that ancient Anatolia people were faced with but rather in their case they felt the laws were there to help them solve all sorts of problems rather than to punish them.

Bibliographies

Bryce, T. 2008. “The parting mists of ancient Anatolia”. University of New England: University press. 28 pages

Gary Beckman, 1989 “the Religion of the Hittites”, the Biblical Archaeologist, pp 243-6

Macqueen, J. G. 1959 “Hittian Mythology and Hittite Monarchy”, Anatolian Studies (22) pp 30

Oramel, J. 2007. “The social thought of the ancient civilizations”. California: McGraw Hill book company. 409 pages

Tetlow, M., E. 2004. “Women, crime and punishment in Ancient law and Society”.  Vol. 1. Continuum international Publishers. 338 pages

[1] Tetlow, M., E. 2004. Women, crime and punishment in Ancient law and Society, Vol 1, Continuum international Publishers 338 pages

[2] Tetlow, M., E. 2004. Women, crime and punishment in Ancient law and Society  Vol. 1. Continuum international Publishers, 338 pages

[3] Oramel, J. 2007. The social thought of the ancient civilizations. California: McGraw Hill book company, 409 pages

[4] Oramel, J. 2007. The social thought of the ancient civilizations. California: McGraw Hill book company, 409 pages

[5]Macqueen, J. G. 1959 Hittian Mythology and Hittite Monarchy, Anatolian Studies (22) pp 30

[6] Macqueen, J. G. 1959 Hittian Mythology and Hittite Monarchy, Anatolian Studies (22) pp 30

[7] Bryce, T. 2008. The parting mists of ancient Anatolia. University of New England: University press. 28 pages

[8] Macqueen, J. G. 1959 Hittian Mythology and Hittite Monarchy, Anatolian Studies (22) pp 30

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