Hittite geographers: geographical perceptions and practices in hittite anatolia
Gerçek, N. İ.
Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History
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Hittite archives are remarkably rich in geographical data. A diverse array of documents has yielded, aside from thousands of geographical names (of towns, territories, mountains, and rivers), detailed descriptions of the Hittite state’s frontiers and depictions of landscape and topography. Historical geography has, as a result, occupied a central place in Hittitological research since the beginnings of the field. The primary aim of scholarship in this area has been to locate (precisely) or localize (approximately) regions, towns, and other geographical features, matching Hittite geographical names with archaeological sites, unexcavated mounds, and—whenever possible—with geographical names from the classical period. At the same time, comparatively little work has been done on geographical thinking in Hittite Anatolia: how and for what purpose(s) was geographical information collected, organized, and presented? How did those who produce the texts imagine their world and their homeland, “the Land of Hatti?” How did they characterize other lands and peoples they came into contact with? Concentrating on these questions, the present paper aims to extract from Hittite written sources their writers’ geographical conceptions and practices. It is argued that the acquisition and management of geographical information was an essential component of the Hittite Empire’s administrative infrastructure and that geographical knowledge was central to the creation of a Hittite homeland.