Hittite Religion

views updated


HITTITE RELIGION . The exact origin of the Hittites, an Indo-European people, is not known. Invading Asia Minor from the east, by the middle of the second millennium bce they had established an empire covering the greater part of that region. Their empire declined after 1200 bce, owing to Indo-European invasions and the growing power of Assyria.

Names of Gods

Knowledge about Hittite society, culture, and religion has increased since the deciphering of their cuneiform writing, on clay tablets found early in the twentieth century ce at Bogazköy (in Turkey). Hittite society was ethnically and linguistically diverse, with Hattian, Hurrian, and even some Semitic elements, and this diversity is evident in the divine names.

The earliest identifiable stratum is the Hattian. The Hattians were resident in central Anatolia before the Indo-European Hittites arrived. They had a long tradition of settled urban life. It is understandable that a people open to influences from its neighbors, as the Hittites were, would early adopt the worship of Hattian deities. Because the Hattic language is still very poorly understood, one can only partially understand the meanings of the divine names. Some are common nouns for elements of nature: Eshtan ("sun, day") Izzishtanu ("favorable day"), Kashku ("moon"), Kait ("grain"). Others denote status: Kattahha ("queen"), Wurunkatte ("king of the land"), Shulinkatte ("king of the suli "), Kattishhabi ("king god"), Teteshhawi ("great god").

The Hurrian language is better understood than Hattic. Still, because the number of Hurrian words that can be translated is not large, it is not possible to interpret many Hurrian divine names. The influence of Sumerian and Akkadian religious vocabulary and divine epithets is obvious. Aya, Ishhara, Ellil (Enlil), Anu, and Alalu were originally Mesopotamian deities.

Nature of Deity

In Hittite art the gods were depicted either by their animal totems or anthropomorphically. The texts concur in depicting them in human terms. Gods needed to eat, drink, sleep, and exercise. They needed companionship, ego-building, and love (including sexual intercourse). They made mistakes through lack of knowledge. They could be deceived. They needed to be informed by others. Each possessed a specialized skill that put him in demand by both mortals and other gods. In myths gods were born and died (i. e., were killed). But very little, if anything, indicates that they aged or became senile. That what they did was not always just or fair is clear from the prayers, in which the human petitioner chides them for mistakes and pleads for fair treatment. Although no god was omniscient, some possessed very wide knowledge and every god was superior to humans in knowledge. In instructions to priests and temple officials, mortals who thought to conceal their offenses from a god were warned of the futility of the attempt. Although every god was more powerful than any mortal, none was omnipotent, and degrees of power were quite diverse among them.

Functions of a Deity

As each mortal had his rank and function in human society, so each deity had his position and role, not only among his fellow deities but in concourse with humanity and the cosmos.

General functions

While it is not possible to completely reconstruct the hierarchy of Hittite deities, it is clear that in convocations of gods certain figures naturally assumed leadership. In the Old Hittite vanishing-god myths it is the storm god who presides. But although he presides, he is not always able to enforce his will on the other gods. He must ask advice, plead his case, and seek volunteers for missions. Occasionally he is able to command another figure.

Hierarchical organization is also seen in the New Hittite pantheon. There is a fixed sequence in the god-lists in the state treaties, and there is an order of both gods and goddesses in the processional reliefs at Yazilikaya, near Bogazköy. In the myths Kingship in Heaven and The Kingship of the God Lamma may be seen how rival factions fight over the position of king of the gods. The god Lamma boasts that his exalted position allows him to control the other gods. In the prayers of Hattusilis III and of his queen, Puduhepa, lower-ranked gods are requested to present the mortals' prayers favorably to their superiors in the pantheon. To be sure, the question is not entirely one of rank. The intercessor god is usually a favorite child or grandchild of the senior god. Indeed, the hierarchy described is that of a large, extended family in which the patriarch and matriarch possess considerable power to direct their descendants and the descendants of their brothers and sisters.

In their prayers the Hittites reminded the gods that they required worshipers who would bring regular food-offerings; thus it was in their own interest that they protect and bless the community of faithful worshipers. But aside from this maintenance of the cult, mortal assistance was rarely needed by the gods. In a mythological context one sees examples in the two versions of the Illuyanka myth. The disabled storm god must be helped to vanquish his adversary, the great serpent Illuyanka. On the divine level he is assisted by the goddess Inara. She in turn, for no obvious reason, needs the help of the mortal Hupashiya, which she bargains for by consenting to have sexual intercourse with him. But though she subsequently lives with him as a sex partner, she dominates him completely and apparently punishes his unfaithfulness to her with death. Outside of the mythological texts, when a god needed the service of a mortal he revealed himself through omen, oracle, or dream. His request was always viewed as a command, which could not be ignored.

Gods "served" mortals by ensuring material prosperity, protecting them from enemies and natural catastrophes, hearing their prayers, making known to them their sins, and forgiving them (sometimes after a punishment). Although the Hittites apparently believed in an afterlife, at least for their kings and queens, there is no evidence that they prayed or made sacrifices in order to obtain life after death or a better quality of existence in that afterlife.

Specialized functions

Just as there were storm gods who sent rain and winds to fertilize the crops and make them prosper, so there were deities of grain and vineyards, deities of the rivers who gave water for irrigation, deities of springs, deities of the forest, and deities of wildlife who gave success in hunting. Under the influence of Mesopotamian concepts, the sun god Ishtanu was the all-seeing dispenser of justice to humans and even to animals. There were war gods (the Zababa type) who gave victory to the Hittite armies. There was a god who could confer invisibility on the Hittite troops and enable them to attack the enemy by surprise. There were deities who sent and withdrew plagues, both upon the Hittites and their enemies. There were deities of human sexual potency. And although one might ask one's personal god for any of these boons, there were divine specialists for many tasks.


The Hittites called the aggregate of gods and goddesses "the thousand gods," and there may indeed have been that many. The total number of divine names known from the tablets and inscriptions is slightly more than six hundred, a total arrived at by culling the entire written corpus. The number of deities worshiped in any one Hittite city or town would be much smaller. Lists of divine names are found in state treaties, where the gods of both contracting parties are invoked to ensure that the oaths taken will be kept. Divine names are sometimes listed together with offerings to be made to them either at a particular festival or during the course of a year. In the famous imperial sanctuary at Yazilikaya, carved in low relief on the walls of the sanctuary, is a dual procession of gods and goddesses, the males proceeding from left to right and the females from right to left, with the chief male and female deities meeting at the architectural focus point. The total number of divine figures in the preserved parts of the two processions is seventy-one. This assemblage represents the official imperial pantheon of the last half century of the Hittite kingdom. It is a completely Hurrianized pantheon, with deities of the Hattian and Hittite-Luwian strata syncretized, where possible, with Hurrian deities. This process of syncretism made possible a considerable reduction in the total number of deities, because several could be included under one (in this case, Hurrian) name. Other divine names in the inscriptions may represent either gods without a cult (e.g. purely literary figures) or gods from cult sites away from the capital who were never admitted into the official state cult.


Mythological texts in the Hittite language may be subdivided into two groups: those of Anatolian origin and those of foreign origin. Myths deriving from Old Hittite originals are all Anatolian. The deities who figure in the Old Hittite Telepinu and Illuyanka myths and the other disappearing-god myths are a mix of what Emmanuel Laroche calls Hattian and Asianic. The myth of the moon falling from heaven occurs in both a Hattic and a Hittite version. There is very little about the Hittite version that linguistically recalls Old Hittite, yet it is surely possible that a long tradition of recopying has removed almost all traces of its original Old Hittite language. Although Kamrushepa is a Hittite replacement for the original Hattic name of this goddess of magic, there is no reason to doubt that the myths in which she figures also belong to this Hattian group. All of the Anatolian myths are associated with incantations or rituals. The myths of non-Anatolian origin are all post-Old Hittite. They are generally independent of any incantation or ritual. One exception is the Ashertu myth, part of which describes a ritual to exorcize and purify Baal.

Vanishing-god myths

These myths, the best known of which is about the god Telepinu, are paradigms for dealing with natural catastrophes such as drought, blight, and diseases affecting livestock. The god who disappears must be located, appeased, and brought back. On the mythological level this is accomplished by nonhuman agents. The bee searches for, finds, and stings awake the sleeping god. The goddess Kamrushepa carries out a ritual to appease him. When transferred to the real world of those who are suffering from such a catastrophe, the search for the missing god entails a determination by oracle of which god is angry. Texts recording such oracular inquiry are extremely common in the New Hittite period, but have now been identified in the Old Hittite script, showing that his procedure was probably as common in the earlier period as in the later one. The pacification and return of the god is accomplished by a magic ritual of the type called mugawar in Hittite. Directions for such mugawar s accompany the vanishing-god myths; other mugawar s are described in ritual texts. It is a characteristic ritual form among the Hittites.

Illuyanka myths

Two stories on the same tablet are about the conflict between the storm god and his antagonist, the great serpent Illuyanka. Illuyanka is in fact not a name but a common noun, meaning "serpent" or "snake." But this particular reptile is clearly large and strong enough to have once defeated and disabled the storm god. In both stories the initially defeated storm god secures the help of a mortal who utilizes a trick to help the storm god triumph in his return match with the reptile. In the first version the goddess Inara and her mortal partner, Hupashiya, make Illuyanka and his brood drunk so that they cannot go back down into their hole in the ground. While they are helplessly drunk, Hupashiya ties them up, and when the storm god comes he is able to kill them. In the second version the storm god's own son by a mortal woman marries the daughter of Illuyanka and apparently uses his right as a son-in-law to ask a gift from Illuyanka. He receives his father's eyes and heart, which he passes on to the storm god. Renewed in his powers, the storm god defeats Illuyanka.

Like the vanishing-god myths, these two stories express natural catastrophes in the mythological terms of a disabled storm god. The disabled god is incapable of restoring himself and needs mortal cooperation, which is but a mythological counterpart of the actual mortal activity in the realm of magic rituals. The breakdown in nature is expressed mythologically as a giant serpent that must be subdued and killed. Reptiles are not a common symbol of evil in Hittite, but it is a fact that in the New Hittite myth of Hedammu a giant reptile is opposed by the goddess Ishtar. Unlike other Hittite myths, the first version of the Illuyanka story is localized, through the mention of the land of Tarukka, in north-central Anatolia. The second version takes place near an unnamed sea.

Kumarbi cycle

The theme of this group of stories is kingship among the gods. In Kingship in Heaven kingship is first held by Alalu, one of a previous generation of gods, who at the time of the Hittite storyteller are envisaged as dwelling in the netherworld and who bear the name "former gods." After a mere nine years of reign Alalu is driven from his throne by his erstwhile cupbearer, Anu, and he takes refuge in the netherworld. Alalu's own son, Kumarbi, becomes Anu's cupbearer for nine years. Then Anu and Kumarbi do battle, and Kumarbi drives his father's usurper from the throne. Because Anu (Sum., An) was the god of the sky, he tries to escape to the sky. But Kumarbi catches him, drags him down, and emasculates him by biting off and swallowing his genitals. Anu curses Kumarbi and prophesies the birth, from the swallowed genitals, of the god who will ultimately displace Kumarbi. Because Kumarbi is Alalu's son, he hopes to prevent his own removal by Anu's issue. This is the motivation for the emasculation. But fate cannot be denied. The genitals produce in Kumarbi several gods who are "born" from him, one of whom is Teshub, the storm god, who eventually deposes Kumarbi. In the Song of Ullikummi the deposed Kumarbi produces issue of his own, a great stone monster conceived by his intercourse with a huge rock, to depose and destroy Teshub. Another myth in this cycle, the Kingship of Lamma, also treats the theme of kingship among the gods. Thus the entire cycle of Kumarbi myths deals with struggle among the gods for supremacy.

Tales of Appu, the Cow and the Fisherman, and the Hunter Keshshi

These stories, of which unfortunately only a portion is preserved, were edited almost forty years ago as Hurrian tales in Hittite translation. But it is now known that only the Keshshi story has a Hurrian background. No names in the Appu story, either of gods or humans, are Hurrian, although the geographical setting appears to be somewhere to the east of Mesopotamia. Nor is there any indication of Hurrian elements in the Cow and the Fisherman. The fisherman's city is Urma, which is unlocalized. Keshshi marries a woman with the Hurrian name Shintalimeni, whose brother is Udubsharri. The theme of the Appu story is twofold: (1) One cannot escape the fate that marks one at birth; and (2) although evil appears to prevail for a time, the justice of the gods will ultimately triumph. Appu has two sons, to whom the names Unjust and Just are given, and they grow up to fulfill their names. Unjust takes advantage of Just until their case comes to the attention of the gods. And although the end of the story is on a part of the tablet that has broken away, the short prooemium introducing the story predicts the end: The gods always vindicate the just and destroy the unjust.

Not enough is preserved of the Cow and Fisherman to discern a theme. Very little is preserved also of the Keshshi story, but it appears that Keshshi has angered the gods by neglecting their cult and doting on his new wife, and that he will suffer for this.

Baal, Elkunirsha, and Ashertu

This West Semitic myth about three deities, familiar from the Ugartic myths and the Old Testament, was somewhat inaccurately translated into Hittite. Clues to the wording of the West Semitic original can be found in those places where parallelismus membrorum in the original was distorted in translation. The story iteself resembles the incident of the patriarch Joseph and Potiphar's wife. Ashertu propositions Baal, and when he refuses, she threatens to get even. He reports the incident to her husband, Elkunirsha, who gives him permission to humble her. He does so, telling her that he has killed her sons. Thereupon Ashertu laments their death and eventually becomes reconciled to Elkunirsha, even turning him against Baal. Ishtar (Astarte), Baal's sister, overhears them plotting against her brother and flies "like a bird" to meet him in the desert, where she warns him. There the tablet breaks off, leaving the narrative unfinished. An attached ritual describes the purification of Ball, which probably followed some injury to him connected with this plot.

The Hittite Temple

Six Hittite temples have been excavated at Bogazköy. In addition to the cella, where the cult image of the deity was found, each contained a number of rooms that were used to house the permanent personnel and to store temple revenues. Each temple had a central courtyard. Worshipers crossing the courtyard from the temple entrance passed through a portico into the cella, which apparently could accommodate only priests and a small number of worshipers. Some larger temples, such as the principal temple in the lower city at Bogazköy (Temple I), may have contained two or more cellae and therefore housed the cult images of more than one god. In the terminology of the texts, therefore, going from the "house" of god A to the "house" of god B might have been possible without leaving the confines of a single multiroomed structure.

As in other cultures, the Hittite templethrough its craftsmen personnel, its real estate farmed by sharecroppers, and its shares of booty taken by the king in battlegenerated a large amount of revenue. Because of the lack of private economic documents, it cannot be discerned whether in Hatti, as in Babylonia, the temple served as a lending agency, similar to a modern bank. It is not, however, improbable that it did so.

Cult images

Although, thanks to rock reliefs depicting Hittite gods and goddesses, researchers have some idea of the appearance of their cult images, these latter (being made of precious metals, which would have been carried off by the destroyers of Bogazköy) have not survived. Small images in gold or silver have indeed survived, but the full-size cult images that stood in the temple cella have not. About these there is information in the inventory texts called statue descriptions, which give a fairly good idea of the appearance of the statues. Here is a quoted example.

The Storm God of Invocation: a gold statue of a standing man with wings coming out of his shoulders. In his right hand he holds a gold ax. In his left hand a gold symbol of good. He stands on an awiti -animal, its teeth plated with silver, its chest plated with gold. To the left and right of the wings stand [the attendant goddesses] Ninatta and Kulitta. The Storm God of the Sky: a gold-plated statue of a seated man. In his right hand he holds a hattalla -club. In his left hand he holds a gold symbol of good. On top of two mountain gods, portrayed as standing men, silver-plated. Underneath is a silver base. Two silver rhytons. The Storm God of the House: a silver model of a bull's head and neck, facing forward. The Warrior God (Zababa): a silver statue of a standing man. In his right hand he holds a tukul -mace. In his left hand he holds a shield. Underneath stands a lion. Under the lion is a silver-plated base one silver ashshuzeri -vessel. He has no attendant. Sun God of the Sky: a silver statue of a seated man. On his head are silver fishes. Beneath him is a wooden base.

From reports of oracle inquiries one learns that the god was thought to be angered when the platings of gold and silver on his statue became worn. When an oracle indicated this, the king had to instruct goldsmiths or silversmiths to replate the image.

Temple personnel

Periodically, the king commissioned a census of the temples of the realm. Each city, town, or village was listed with its deities and temple(s). For each deity the census listed two types of male clergy and one type of female clergy. If for any reason a sanctuary lost any of its quota of clergy, it was restaffed. A small staff of two or three clergy was necessary even for a small sanctuary; in the main temple at Bogazköy there were many more. No term corresponding to high priest is known in Hittite, but a presiding official for the large, urban temples must have existed.

The larger temples also maintained a staff of craftsmen. A list of the craftsmen employed in the main temple at Bogazköy enumerates goldsmiths and silversmiths, potters, leatherworkers, stonecutters, engravers, weavers, kitchen personnel, and various kinds of musicians. They lived and worked in a precinct just south of the main temple complex. Surviving texts describe the elaborate measures taken to ensure the ritual purity of these temple workers and their counterparts who served the needs of the king. Temple watchmen patrolled the precincts night and day to guard against fire and the intrusion of unwanted "unclean" animals. Visitors had to be escorted by temple guards from the main entrance to their appointments inside the temple and back to the exit once their business was done. Unauthorized persons were not allowed access to the holy precincts. In general, foreigners were not allowed in the Hittite temple; only privileged foreigners, perhaps ambassadors at the court, were allowed admittance under special circumstances.


As stated above, the gods were treated like rich and powerful men. The description of the transporting of the images uses verbs inappropriate to the transporting of living persons, indicating that the Hittites were well aware that the image was not in fact the god but merely symbolized his presence. Still, the image was treated with the same deference that would be paid to any important personage. It was put to bed at night in the god's bedroom. In the morning it was aroused, washed and groomed, presented with food, and brought out to its cult platform for the day's round of receiving visitors (priests, dignitaries, and so on). On festival days it was put on a litter and carried through the streets to a pleasant meadow outside the city, where ceremonies, prayers, offerings, and even music, acrobatics, and games were performed to entertain the deity. The invisible divine beings symbolized by these statues were also viewed as leading a busy and active life. Ritual prayers invoking their presence in times of great need recognized that the god in question might have gone on a journey to the mountains or even to some foreign land.

No extant tablet contains the entire cultic calendar for the temples of Bogazköy. Texts describing festivals, however, make it evident that the busiest seasons of the year for festivals were fall and spring. The summer was occupied with harvesting and with the king's annual military campaigns. In the winter it was too cold for the outside activity often required at festivals, although it is now known that the Festival of the Year took place toward the end of the winter. There exist elaborate descriptions of some of the major festivals and lists naming many other festivals about which relatively little is known. The personal participation of the king (and sometimes also the queen) was very important. At times of military crisis a king might even have to leave command of the armies to a subordinate in order to return to Bogazköy to celebrate a religious festival. Not to do so constituted an unforgivable affront to the gods that could prove disastrous.

The activities of worship were prayer (addressing the god either to invoke, praise, or petition him), sacrifice (presenting to the god gifts of food and drink), and entertainment (music, games, reciting myths). The musical instruments were drums, stringed and reed instruments, and horns. Singing was done in any of various languages, depending upon the deity's ethnolinguistic background: Hattic, Luwian, Hittite, Palaic, Hurrian, or Babylonian. In the cult of the Hattian gods a lead singer and a chorus sang antiphonally. Hattian deities were addressed in worship under two names: the name used among mortals and that among the gods.

The premise underlying all Hittite prayer is that gods thought like mortals and could be influenced by pleasant words and gifts. The paradigm for the divine-human relationship was a master-slave one. A human could expect from his divine lord or lady just what a slave could from his master.

More than one Hittite noun was used to designate what may be called "prayer." Mugawar (mugeshshar ) referred to the invocation of the god's presence through words and ritual acts. Praise, adulation, and adoration were called walliyatar; petition was wekuwar. Reply to accusations of sin (i.e., self-justification or protestation of innocence) was arkuwar. A single Hittite prayer often contained several of these types of expression.

Sacrifices were made of domestic animals, principally bulls, cows, sheep, and goats. For certain Hurrian rituals, birds were sacrificed. The cult never prescribed the sacrifice of a wild animal. The animal was killed and its meat prepared to serve as the god's food; no expiatory use was ever made of the blood of the sacrifice.

Animals given to the god were to be healthy specimens. Persons who knowingly substituted scrawny or unhealthy animals for healthy ones were guilty of a serious offense. In some rituals alternate, less expensive victims were accepted from poor worshipers. All sacrifices were to be presented promptly at the prescribed time, and delayed sacrifices or rituals were not accepted. Priests were warned in instructive texts not to tolerate excuses from worshipers who wished to postpone required rites of sacrifice. Especially appropriate at the time of their first harvesting were vegetable and grain offerings; they too had to be brought promptly.


The gods communicated their will to mortals in several ways. A surviving oracle text in Old Hittite script proves that oracular inquiry already existed at that time. In the Old Hittite Telepinu Proclamation, warnings from the gods about serious offenses came through the words of the "men of the gods," whom a number of scholars have taken to be prophets of some type. A third methoddreamsis not attested earlier than the New Kingdom. Communication of a god's will to a king, queen, or prince is first mentioned in the prayers of Mursilis II and first attested in the childhood of Hattusilis III, the son of Mursilis II. At a certain point in a ritual for a man suffering from sexual impotence, the sufferer is instructed to sleep in a holy place and report his dreams.

Sin, Death, and the Afterlife

Several Hittite words are translated as "sin," "offense," or "crime." Those occurring in prayers are washtai-, washtul, and shalla-kardatar. The first two refer to a deed with evil or unpleasant consequences and in most cases they must be translated as "sin." But either "sin" or "offense" can be expressed by the word haratar. A particularly serious offense of a special sexual nature is hurkel, which in most instances coincides with what one would call incest. Shallakardatar is a deliberate and high-handed offense against a deity.

From the Hittite point of view, sins against the gods could be deliberate or accidental. In either case they had to be identified, confessed, and (in most cases) corrected. Identification of sins committed unwittingly was possible only through consulting the god by oracle. The process was an involved one. By posing questions requiring only a "yes" or "no" answer one gradually narrowed the field of possibilities until a specific offense was determined. Then the question was posed: "Is the god angry for this reason only, and not for any additional reason?" If the answer to this was "yes," the inquiry was terminated. If "no," the inquiry continued until the final cause was identified.

Confession necessitated a promise to make amends. If the offense was the neglect of some religious duty such as a sacrifice, the offender promised to make up the sacrifice, sometimes with a greater outlay of offerings. Two Hittite words denoted gifts to make amends for these sins of neglect: sharnikzel and mashkan. The former also referred to compensation for injury or breach of contract in civil law, while the latter in profane usage meant a gift or bribe. If the gods punished a person for committing a sin, this did not absolve the sinner from the obligations of confession and compensation. Animal sacrifices were not used to expiate sin, nor did the compensatory gifts mentioned above constitute an expiation. Rather, one's offense against a god was viewed as completely analogous to his offense against another person, and the terminology (e.g., sharnikzel) was identical.

Relatively little is said in the surviving Hittite texts about the fate of the deceased after death. The Old Hittite Kantuzzili prayer rather philosophically observes that if one were to go on living under the present circumstances eternally, that might turn out to be a nightmare, for the ills of this life would become eternal. This would turn out to be a grievance (kattawatar ), that is, a ground for complaint against the gods. In the description of the lengthy ritual for cremation and interring of the ashes of a dead king is the information that certain farming implements were burned in order to accompany the deceased king to the next life, so that he might cultivate the soil there. In the Hittite laws, a clause dealing with a wife's predeceasing her husband decrees that before her dowry can be released to her widowed husband, he must burn certain of her personal possessions. This burning doubtless served the same purpose as the burning of the farming implements for the dead king. In many cultures, items of personal value to the deceased are placed in the grave with the dead body, a practice strongly suggesting use of the articles in an afterlife. In the case of the Hittite king the texts explicitly confirm this interpretation. Descendants of the dead man continued to make offerings to his spirit. This practice is also attested in Hittite texts. In one instance, King Muwatallis, when he moved the royal residence from Bogazköy to Tarhuntassa, transferred to the new residence the statues of the gods and the "dead [ancestors]."

A Hittite religious belief maintained that the spirit of a dead person with a grievance against a living person might continue to haunt the latter until the grievance was resolved. The precise nature of the grievance was determined in the same way as sins against a god: by oracular investigation. When the grievance had been resolved and the spirit had been pacified, the deceased was "set on the road," that is, was sent on his or her way to the abode of the dead.

Hittite texts never reveal where that abode was. The Hittite cosmology allowed for a heaven above, where most of the gods dwelled, and the netherworld beneath, where the remainder lived. But it is not known if the dead resided in either of these places. In a ritual intended to remove certain evils and safely dispose of them forever where they could not harm humankind, the dead were magically put into large copper vessels and covered with lids of lead. According to one version of the incantation, these vessels were at the bottom of the sea; according to the other version, in the netherworld. This, of course, does not prove that the spirits of the dead were confined in the netherworld. It only suggests that unwelcome things were kept there.

See Also

Hurrian Religion.


Bittel, Kurt. Hattusha: The Capital of the Hittites. New York, 1970. See pages 91112.

Bittel, Kurt. "The Great Temple of Hattusha-Bogazköy." American Journal of Archaeology 80 (1976): 6673.

Gurney, O. R. Some Aspects of Hittite Religion. London, 1977.

Güterbock, Hans G. "Hittite Religion." In Forgotten Religions, edited by Vergilius Ferm, pp. 83109. New York, 1950.

Güterbock, Hans G. "The Song of UlliKummi." Journal of Cuneiform Studies 5 (1951): 135161 and 6 (1952): 842.

Güterbock, Hans G. "Religion und Kultus der Hethiter." In Neuere Hethiterforschung, edited by Gerold Walser, pp. 5473. Wiesbaden, 1964.

Güterbock, Hans G. Les hieroglyphes de Yazilikaya: À propos d'un travail récent. Paris, 1982.

Hoffner, Harry A., Jr. "Hittite Mythological Texts: A Survey." In Unity and Diversity, edited by Hans Goedicke and J. J. M. Roberts, pp. 136145. Baltimore, 1975.

Hoffner, Harry A., Jr. "A Prayer of Mursili II about His Stepmother." Journal of the American Oriental Society 103 (1983): 187192.

Kammenhuber, Annelies. "Hethitische Rituale." In Kindlers Literatur-Lexikon, edited by Gert Woerner et al., vol. 3. Zurich, 19651967.

Masson, Emilia. Le panthéon de Yazilikaya: Nouvelles lectures. Paris, 1981.

Moyer, James C. "The Concept of Ritual Purity among the Hittites." Ph. D. diss., Brandeis University, 1969.

Otten, Heinrich. Hethitische Totenrituale. Berlin, 1958.

Otten, Heinrich. "The Religion of the Hittites." In Historia Religionum, edited by C. Jouco Bleeker and Geo Widengren, vol. 1, Religions of the Past, pp. 318322. Leiden, 1969.

Sturtevant, Edgar H., and George Bechtel. A Hittite Chrestomathy. Philadelphia, 1935.

Sürenhagen, Dietrich. "Zwei Gebete Hattusilis und der Puduhepa." Altorientalische Forschungen 8 (1981): 83168.

Ten Cate Houwink, Ph. H. J. "Hittite Royal Prayers." Numen 16 (1969): 8198.

New Sources

Haas, Volkert. Geschichte der hethitischen Religion. Leiden, 1994. The definitive handbook for years to come, including 137 illustrations and 50 pp. of bibliography.

Loon, Maurits N. van. Anatolia in the Second Millennium b.c. Leiden, 1985. A study of monuments, including 46 plates.

Loon, Maurits N. van. Anatolia in the Earlier First millennium b.c. Leiden, 1991. A study of monuments, including 48 plates.

Hoffner, Harry A., Jr. Hittite Myths. Atlanta, 1990, 2d ed. 1998. English translation of a collection of Hittite myths.

Masson, Emilia. Les douze dieux de l'immortalité. Paris, 1989. A study of the pantheon of Yazilikaya based on a comparative historical approach.

Pecchioli Daddi, Franca, and Anna Maria Polvani. La mitologia ittita. Brescia, Italy, 1990. Italian translation of Hittite myths with ample notes and detailed bibliography.

Harry A. Hoffner, Jr. (1987)

Revised Bibliography