SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Introductory Hittite

Module Code:
Taught in:
Full Year

This module deals with the history of the discovery, script and language of Hittite, a study of the orthography and grammar, and the reading of selected passages.


Introductory Akkadian is a prerequisite.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

At the end of the module the student should have acquired knowledge and understanding of basic Hittite grammar, mastery of essential Hittite vocabulary and competence in the reading of easy cuneiform texts in Hittite; should have acquired competence in the translation and interpretation of cuneiform texts in the genres studied; should have acquired a fundamental understanding of the written legacy of ancient Anatolia; and should have gained appropriate knowledge of the philological and methodological issues with which Hittitologists engage.


The module will normally entail two or three hours in the classroom each week. Preparation for classes will include the study of passages from the set texts for reading in class.

Scope and syllabus

The module begins with the study of Hittite grammar and script. Thereafter it comprises mainly the reading and discussion of a selection of set texts in cuneiform.

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (70%); four (non-repeatable) pieces of coursework to be submitted on day 5, after reading week, term 1 (5%); day 5, week 1, term 2 (10%); day 5 after reading week, term 2 (5%); day 5, week 1, term 3 (10%).

Suggested reading

1. Hittite History and Culture: Short introductions to various topics.

ALPARSLAN, M. and DOĞAN-ALPARSLAN, M. (eds) Hititler/Hittites, Istan bul 2013.

BEAL, R. H. “Hittite Anatolia: A Political History”, in S.R. Steadman and G. MacMahon (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia, Oxford 2011, pp. 579-603

MACQUEEN, J. G. “The History of Anatolia and of the Hittite Empire”, in: J. Sasson (ed.) Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, New York 1995, vol. II, pp. 1085–105

MELCHERT, H.C. (ed.), The Luwians (HdO I/68), Leiden et al., 2003

POPKO, M. Religions of Asia Minor, Warsaw 1995

SEEHER, J. Hattusha Guide. A Day in the Hittite Capital, Istanbul 2002 (ed. 2)

YAKUBOVICH, I. “Luwian and the Luwians”, in S.R. Steadman and G. MacMahon (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia, Oxford 2011, pp. 534-547

WEEDEN, M. “Poetry and War among the Hittites”, in H. Kennedy (ed.) Warfare and Poetry in the Middle East, London 2013, pp. 73-99 (SOAS research online, pre-publication proofs)

WEEDEN, M. “State Correspondence in the Hittite World”, in K. Radner (ed.) State Correspondence in the Ancient World. From New Kingdom Egypt to the Roman Empire, Oxford 2014, pp. 32-63 (SOAS research online – pre-publication proofs).

WILHELM, G. The Hurrians, Warminster 1989


2. Hittite Grammars, Grammatical Sketches, Sign-List

BECKMAN, G. “The Hittite Language: Recovery and Grammatical Sketch”, in S.R. Steadman and G. MacMahon (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia, Oxford 2011, pp. 517-533

MELCHERT, H. C. – HOFFNER, H. A., JR. A Grammar of the Hittite Language (LANE 1),
Winona Lake 2008. Volume 1: Reference Grammar; Volume 2 (Tutorial).

HOUT, Th. VAN DEN Elements of Hittite, Cambridge 2011. 

RÜSTER, CHR. and NEU, E. Hethitisches Zeichenlexikon. Inventar und Interpretation der Keilschrifzeichen aus den Boğazköy-Texten, Wiesbaden, 1989.

WATKINS, C., “Hittite”, in: R. D. Woodard (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages, Cambridge 2004, 551–75.

WATKINS, C. “Proto-Indo-European: Comparison and Reconstruction”, in: The Indo-European Languages, ed. A. G. Ramat and P. Ramat, London – New York 1998, 25–73.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules