Re: "Hittites" Re: SV: [ANE-2] pulling down houses
- On Sun, 8 Jul 2007, P. T. Daniels wrote:
>We call those Anatolian folks who wrote in cuneiform "Hittites"To which R. Whiting replied:
>because of a mistaken guess (likely by A. H. Sayce?) that they
>were the people known in the Bible as "Hittites." In fact they
>called themselves (what in English would be) "Nesians" or
>"Nesites," so the "Hittite" Laws have nothing to do with Uriah
>Which is true, of course, only as long as "Hittites" wasn'tG. Del Monte added this remark:
>what the rest of the world called the people who called
> at the beginning of the Iron Age no one HittiteDierk van den Berg seemed puzzled by this claim that
>(that is, Nesite) walked on the dark earth any more,
>as far as our evidence suggests.
the Hittites called themselves, as opposed to the written
language they used,"Nesites" and asked:
>Chattusil, the great King, the King of the Land (of) Chatti"Daniels, Whiting, and Del Monte make it sound as if the
>might have spoken Nesian, but that's probably already all, IMO.
>The very first self-designation would be "Man of Chatti", isn't it?
"nation"? "dynasty"? we call "Hittites" actually called
themselves "Nesites" (Nesumnes, LU URU Nesa) as their
I can't remember any instance of this term being used for
anything but an inhabitant of the city of Nesha; the expression
LU URU- Nesha would apply only to an actual resident of that town.
After the decline of this once major center, we find the reference to
the language mostly in some ritual texts describing singers, no?
(except of course for the EA correspondence where the king of
Arzawa begs the king of Egypt to write him in neshumnili,
"the language of the people of Nesha".) And when the gods of
Nesha are mentioned they are not at all the gods of the royal
dynasty at Hattusha or Kushshar, but fairly obscure local gods
of Nesha, no? [q.v. in V. Haas on Hitt Religion).
Where is the royal inscription or the seal of any king after the
immediate series of Anitta and his successor(s?) who called
themselves kings of Nesha or Lu- Nesha? As Melchert
remarked in his 1995 CANE article (p 2152):
"Hittite was the chief administrative language of the Hittite Empire.
To what extent it functioned as a spoken language at various
places and times in the empire is impossible to determine. It is
noteworthy that the Hittites themselves called the language ne$ili
-- that is, "of Nesha" [Kanesh]."
I thought Gerd Steiner had dealt with all this long ago in his
article in J. Indo-European Studies 9, 1981:
p 161: "The use of the language of Ne$a-Kane$ as one of the
official languages of the kingdom of Hatti cannot be explained
by the assumption that it was the language of the 'ruling class'
who had retained by that name the memory of their former abode.
For in the tradition of the kingdom of Hatti there is no reference
whatever to the origin of the ruling dynasty of the 'Old Kingdom'
or of a larger part of the population from the country of Kane$-
Ne$a. Nor is there any evidence that the city of Ku$$ara, where
the dynasty of the 'Old Kingdom' claims to have come from, was
situated in the country of Kane$ or in a territory with a population
speaking the same language as ne$(umn)ili but the very use of
"Nesite" as official language in Hattu$a. This is, however, a
."...And though Babylonian was well known in Hatti, it was not
used alone as the official language as in other parts of the ANE,
or as Old Assyrian had been used in the time of the trading
colonies... there was apparently the need for an official languge of
Anatolian kind. And the reason why the language of Kane$-Ne$a
was chosen for that purpose may simply have been the same
why it was used later in the correspondence with the countries
in southern and western Anatolia, namely because it was and
had been used and understood by a large part of the multilingual
population of Central Anatolia and the adjacent recions as a
language of communication.... or 'lingua franca'. " [end quote]
-i.e.dating back to the period when Kanesh was the central
karum of the Assyrian trading network in Anatolia, just as
Swahili became the E. African lingua franca in the era of
the Arab slave trading networks extending all the way inland
to the Lakes region.
He goes on to make the point that one cannot judge the
language spoken by the scribe or his patron on the basis
of the language they use to write, or we should find the
Elamites or Ka$$ites to be Akkadians [or the Persians
to be Elamites for that matter!] So when the Nesite language
suddenly dies out of the surviving texts at the end of the
Bronze Age, just as when Urartean [Biainili?] also suddenly
died out when the dynasty of the Children of Khaldi fell,
is it not because neither language was a major vox populi
in the kingdom at large, but rather the written language of
the central bureaucracy?
The Neshili language must have evolved in the town of Nesha
during the long period when cuneiform writing Old Assyrian
scribes resided in the karum. At this time no one had yet
struggled to adapt the Hattic/ Hattili language to the medium
of cuneiform writing, nor had Luwian yet been transcribed.
So once the local Neshite language had been so adapted and
used to communicate with the locals, it was convenient for the
new administration from Kushshara, when they conquered other
cities in the north, west, and south, to continue to use this Neshan
language as the official written language. Conversely, if the language
later called "the language of the Kaneshites," kaneshumnili , in
some ritual instructions was in fact also the original language of the
prestigious conquering dynasty of Kushshara, wouldn't it ever have
been called Kushsharili, and associated with the dynastic gods
of Kushshara?. Hattushili I never identified himself as a man of Nesha ,
did he? but as a man of Kushshar. And it was in Kushshar that he
called the assembly when he wanted to appoint Murshili as his
PS: as to the ancestral language of Urijah the Hethite, I have
long wondered if he might not be a descendant of the men of
URU Kurustama, "men of Khatti", who were sent to Egypt
(or Egyptian territory in S. Syria or Palestine) in the 15th c.?
Probably they were send as mercenaries or as hostage/ colons
to help keep the peace between Egypt and Hatti-- unless we
fall back on the idea that Egyptians wanted Anatolian
metallurgists; Kurustama might have harbored "proto-Chalybes",
NE/Pontic metalsmiths of Greek fame. In any case since
Kurustama later falls to the Kaskans, it is not unlikely
that its NE location would indicate that its local language
was hattili . [How about modern Horoztepe on the Yesil Irmak
of 3rd mil. metallurgical fame, judging by the archaeological
If Uri-Jah descended from 2nd mil. deported hattili speakers,
we might interpret his name as Hattic Yahsu = heaven,
and uril- mighty, powerful in Hattic [cf. ura/ big, great in
Hieroglyphic Hittite/Luwian [ cf. also wr- big, chief, big man,
foreign king in Egyptian, & Mahass & Old Nubian ur/head,
uru, king, chief.] So the PN Uriyahsu might have originally
meant the Great One of Heaven, or the Ruler of Heaven,
(cf. Bel Shamayim) with the foreign Anatolian sibilant suffix
eventually dropped, just as some now write Kashtilia instead
of Kashtiliashu, or Mursili for Mursilis, etc.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]