Herdsmen in the Hittite Cuneiform Texts
Keywords: 2nd millenium B.C., Anatolia, Hittite, Cuneiform Texts, Herdsmen
The Hittites, who appeared in Anatolia at the beginning of the 2nd millenium B.C., became one of the dominant powers of the Near East from 1600 to 1200 B.C. Their history and culture are known primarily from approximately thirty thousands cuneiform tablets which are preserved at the archives of capital Hattusa located near modern Boğazköy. According to written sources and archaeological data, Hittite economy mainly based on agriculture and animal husbandry. Therefore, herdsmen most probably played an important role in their daily life. Ritual, festival and historical texts made frequent mention domestic animals and their products. However, records in these texts related to herdsmen and herding are so inadequate that it is quite difficult to asses their importance in Hittite culture. The word "herdsmen" and the terms about "herding" in the Hittite texts are usually mentioned as sumerograms. They used the terms regarding herding, which were derived from various domestic animal names (UDU=sheep, GU₄=cattle, UZ₆=MÁŠ=goat, ŠAH=pig etc.). According to the results of researches on cuneiform tablets, there were herdsmen at temples and palaces as well as rural area and towns. Temples and palaces could possess their own herds which were taken care by the herdsmen. As a result of herding system in temples and palaces, new titles and job definitions occured.