||"dawnbreak in the west"|
Sunday, February 16, 2014
The Hittites, hosted by Jeremy Irons
I found the Jeremy Irons documentary The Hittites (2004), at the 2nd And Charles today. I have been watching it this evening; I have reached Suppiluliuma I. This seems like a stopping point for blogging purposes. So far - I am impressed.
Now, it is not perfect. It doesn't give us the (important) information that the Anatolian people are cousins to the proto-Indo-Europeans rather than Indo-Europeans themselves (if I were an Anatolian nationalist, I'd play this up). It then skips the Assyrian-colony period; so we don't have anything on Kanesh and we don't see that the "Hittites" called their own language "Kneshian" (one of the quoted scholars mentions the Assyrian colonists in retrospect). The west is "Arzawa" from the start where it should be "Assuwa" until after Arzawa came into its own. We're also not treated to the Luwian languages in that region. Sapinuwa is completely ignored; even in 2004 it was known as an interim capital, prior to Samuha and the restoration. And the specifics of Suppiluliuma's spectacular campaign into Mitanni, not unlike Heraclius's victory over the Sasanians, are glossed over as well.
We do get a lot about Hittite daily life though. Trevor Bryce got interviewed and I expect he had some input into this.
As a side note: The series comes to us thanks to Turkish interests of the mid-2000s. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was screened in Turkey beforehand. I've been getting the vibe from certain of their cartoons that the secular, urban "Turks" see themselves as Anatolians first; Turks second and Muslims ... maybe south of third. Check this cartoon out. (h/t, Bare Naked Islam.) The shade of Priam himself might have drawn it.
As to what the series has taught me that I didn't already know - Suppiluliuma broke the Law of Telepinu, the law of succession, when he assumed control. He also expelled his tawananna so as to marry a Babylonian instead. In dark-enlightenment terms: he was not content to serve as a constitutional monarch, but sought to rule as a Carlylean lord.
UPDATE 11 PM: Finished it.
The gods, we find, did not approve Suppi's coup. They approved even less his invasion of Egypt; that would be his real sin, from a realpolitik standpoint. And the show seems not to approve of the new tawananna either. Well, no-one ever said that the way of the Sith was easy. . .
Back to the nitpicks: for all that the show touted the Hittite contribution "to east and west", we've not seen much of the west. Achaea? Wilusa? Alasiya-Cyprus? The Luwiyan-speaking regions? Even the freakin' Sea Peoples don't make an appearance here. I know, this DVD gives a Turkish perspective but... the Turks have in the present age learnt a small bit about the Trojan Cycle, as that hyperlink above has illustrated.
More serious, for the Bronze-Age historian, is the short-shrift allotted to the Kashka. Those barbarians had taken Nerik, a holy city to the Hattians which the Kneshians had inherited. The prince Hattusili then retook Nerik (alluded to in passing). This gave to Hattusili some prestige, prestige which his nephew "Urhi-Teshub" (Mursili III) had lacked. And then later the Kashka had allied with the Mushki (probably Phrygo-Armenians) to push the Hittites south again - much further, and permanently, south. Here was some perspective the narrative needed.
And we did, in place of this, have some "padding" that could have been trimmed - like that two minutes of watching Suppi breathe heavily on hearing of his son's death in Egypt. That prince's name, by the way, was Zannanza.
I wonder if the Greeks, Cypriotes and Phrygians (read, Armenians) were left out for modern political reasons. [10/24/2015: oh, let's not forget north-coastal Pontus, whence the Kashka.] Unfortunately the secularists who (probably) bankrolled this thing have some blood on their hands here (more blood than even the Islamists). Pity, this.
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