The Hittites were the earliest known inhabitants of modern-day Turkey. They began to rule the area in about 1900 BCE and during the next centuries, they conquered parts of Mesopotamia and Syria. By 1500 BCE, the had become a leading power in the Middle East. Hittite culture and language were Indo-European, but scholars do not know whether the Hittites came from Europe or from Central Asia. They were the first people to use chariots in war. Hittite archers fired their arrows from these chariots, giving them a great advantage over their enemies.
One of the greatest battles of ancient times took place in about 1285 BCE at Kadesh on the Orontes River, north of Palestine. Mutwatallis, the Hittite leader, fought an indecisive battle against Egyptian forces under Rameses II, who barely escaped alive.
Hittite's Greatest Discovery
The Hittites were the first to master iron-making, and this can be seen in their weaponry. Axe heads were made from bronze (shown here) and also iron.