14 December 2009

Life and Society in the Hittite World

I bought Life and Society in the Hittite World by Trevor Bryce after watching a television documentary which mentioned this mysterious, powerful and vanished people with their ruined city Hattusa (now a world heritage site, such are the ironies of time) in Anatolia.

If you prefer social history to military or even economic, then you'll like this book. It opens the window into how the Hittites lived, their laws, social hierarchy and daily life. It is accessible, but not simplistic.

My reason for buying the book, in addition to natural curiosity, was to see the organising principles for a vanished civilisation. When you write fantasy, you have to create a coherent, alternative world. This social history of the Hittites tackles a similar challenge, and succeeds. A world alien, yet similar to ours, is opened to the reader. We see the Hittites interact with other, better known civilisations like the Egyptians, and how the Hittites' ideas and military expansion affected the Near Middle East.

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