History 270.001
Spring 2011
Course Description
and Goals

This course provides a comparison and contrast of the political and social histories of the ancient Egyptians and the Hittites. Beginning in the 3rd millennium BC with the Egyptian Old Kingdom through to the waning of the Egyptian Empire by 1000 BC, it examines the nature of society and government, especially in the formation of the imperial state and ultimately Egyptian hegemony in Western Asia. It also examines the political and social history and archaeology of Anatolia in the Bronze Age from before the arrival of Indo-Europeans in c. 23rd century BC , the Old Assyrian colonies, native Hattians, and ultimately the Hittite Old and New Kingdoms, including the formation of its great empire. Here it considers the Hittite penchant for treaties and codified laws, social and political organization, warfare and conquest, and relations with its neighbors (Mitannians, Assyrians, Trojans, Mycenaeans), and especially the Egyptians. It also includes Hittite relations with Troy (Wilusha), the Mycenaeans (Ahhiyawa) and the political situation on the coast of Asia Minor in the Late Bronze Age. Thus, it seeks to provide a Near Eastern perspective on those cultures and on traditions about the Trojan War.

A significant issue is the nature of Egyptian-Hittite political and military relations at the height of both empires, when they warred heavily against each other as the two superpowers of their age, leading to the great peace treaty and alliance. Finally, the course examines their later diplomatic relations, and the major forces that were unleashed against them with the collapse of Mycenaean civilization, leading to the Hittites' political extinction and the crumbling of Egyptian power.

With the permission of appropriate departmental chair and program director, this course might be also be applied to credits in the Classics major and the minor in Archaeology.