The Hittites were an ancient Anatolian people who established an empire at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia around the eighteenth century BCE . The Hittite Empire reached its height during the mid-fourteenth century BCE under Suppiluliuma I. It encompassed an area that included most of Asia Minor as well as parts of the northern Levant and Upper Mesopotamia. After c. 1180 BCE, the empire came to an end in the Bronze Age collapse, splintering into several independent "Neo-Hittite" city-states, some surviving until the eighth century BCE.
The Hittite military made successful use of chariots. Although they belonged to the Bronze Age, the Hittites were the forerunners of the Iron Age. They developed the manufacture of iron artifacts from as early as the fourteenth century BCE, when letters to foreign rulers reveal the latter's demand for iron goods. Furthermore, the Hittites used Mesopotamian cuneiform letters. Archaeological expeditions have discovered in Hattusa entire sets of royal archives in cuneiform tablets. These were written either in the Semitic Mesopotamian Akkadian language of Assyria and Babylonia, the diplomatic language of the time, or in the various dialects of the Hittite confederation. The first archaeological evidence for the Hittites appeared in tablets found at the Assyrian colony of Kültepe, containing records of trade between Assyrian merchants and a certain "land of Hatti. "
The Hittite kingdom was centred on the lands surrounding Hattusa and Neša, known as "the land Hatti. " After Hattusa was made the capital, the area encompassed by the bend of the Halys River was considered the core of the Empire. At its peak during the reign of Mursili II, the Hittite empire stretched from Arzawa in the west to Mitanni in the east, many of the Kaskian territories to the north including Hayasa-Azzi in the far north-east, and on south into Canaan approximately as far as the southern border of Lebanon, incorporating all of these territories within its domain.
The Hittite kingdom is conventionally divided into three periods, the Old Hittite Kingdom (ca. 1750–1500 BCE), the Middle Hittite Kingdom (ca. 1500–1430 BCE) and the New Hittite Kingdom (the Hittite Empire proper, 1430–1180 BCE). The earliest known member of a Hittite speaking dynasty, Pithana, was based at the city of Kussara. In the eighteenth century BCE, Anitta, his son and successor, made the Hittite speaking city of Neša into one of his capitals and adopted the Hittite language for his inscriptions there.
During the fifteenth century BCE, Hittite power fell into obscurity, re-emerging with the reign of Tudhaliya I from ca. 1400 BCE. Under Suppiluliuma I and Mursili II, the Empire was extended to most of Anatolia and parts of Syria and Canaan. By 1300 BCE, the Hittites were bordering on the Assyrian and Egyptian spheres of influence, leading to the inconclusive Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE. Civil war and rivaling claims to the throne, combined with the external threat of the Sea Peoples, weakened the Hittites. By 1160 BCE, the Empire had collapsed. "Neo-Hittite" post-Empire states, petty kingdoms under Assyrian rule, may have lingered on until ca. 700 BCE. The Bronze Age Hittite and Luwian dialects evolved into the sparsely attested Lydian, Lycian and Carian languages.
Hittite religion and mythology were heavily influenced by their Hattic, Mesopotamian, and Hurrian counterparts. In earlier times, Indo-European elements, particularly cosmic symbology , may be discerned. For example, "storm gods" were prominent in the Hittite pantheon. Tarhunt (Hurrian's Teshub) was referred to as 'The Conqueror', 'The king of Kummiya', 'King of Heaven', 'Lord of the land of Hatti'. He was chief among the gods and his symbol is the bull. As Teshub, he was depicted as a bearded man astride two mountains and bearing a club.