Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Half of the Best Book on the Hittites, 19 May 2011
This review is from: The Kingdom of the Hittites (Paperback)
This book is one part of what is essentially a duology. Trevor Bryce wrote two books on the Hittites, one dealing with their history and the other with their culture and society. This book is the former. Some people might not like how it never deals with Hittite culture but this makes the history far easier to understand. This book is as close to a straight narrative of the Hittite empire as we are likely to get. The first few chapters cover the period before the the empire, when the region was dominated by Assyrian merchants. After that there's a chapter dealing with the foundation of the kingdom and another with the dynastic problems of the next few centuries. The main core of the book is the last century and a half of Hittite rule because that is the period for which we have the most sources. The final chapter is one that is almost unavoidable for Bronze Age Anatolian studies and includes an analysis of the evidence for the Trojan War. Bryce gives his opinion and backs it up, but everybody who reads up on this subject will have their own opinion on this topic anyway and his opinions are unlikely to change anyone's mind.

This book is by far the most readable and accurate available on this subject. Dr. Bryce has truly outdone himself. It is written in a very readable style and the chapter divisions are intelligently chosen dividing the history into distinct periods. He includes a large number of quotes which both demonstrate his conclusions and give a real feel for the nature of the time. Unlike earlier books where there wasn't enough information available to give more than a brief overview of Hittite history, by this time there has been enough deciphered to make reasonable conclusions and place events in their proper order. The only real problem is the small number of photographs. The maps are adequate and help establish exactly where events were taking place. To fully understand the Hittites I would recommend you get the companion piece. It is more expensive and harder to find, but it is definitely worth it of you can get your hands on it.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Dec 2012 01:37:44 GMT
To Arch Stanton:

Since you have shown an interest in the Hittites, I would like to ask you: do you know that there is an excellent documentary film about this civilization? It is written, produced and directed by the Turkish filmmaker Tolga Örnek.

Here is a link to this film: The Hittites: A Civilization That Changed the World [DVD] [2004] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC].

Best regards,

Torben Retboll

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Dec 2012 02:03:00 GMT
Arch Stanton says:
Yes, I've seen it. I wasn't that impressed, but then I don't usually like documentaries. Jeremy Iron's narration was good (especially his pronunciation of those tongue-twisting names) and the recreations were kind of cool, but the overall slowness of the film made it boring and the models that they used to recreate the city looked so fake it hurt. I was rather more impressed by a BBC documentary called The Dark Lords of Hattusha (part of the series Lost Cities of the Ancients). It was only a half-hour long and it made numerous factual mistakes and misrepresentations, but it featured some impressive cgi recreations of Hattusa and kept me entertained. That's all I really expect out of a documentary. They also featured an interview with Trevor Bryce on there which I found pretty neat.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Dec 2012 06:39:08 GMT
Last edited by the author on 24 Dec 2012 06:53:29 GMT
To Arch Stanton:

Thank you for your message.

You mention the documentary from the BBC. I know that one. I have seen it:

Lost Cities of the Ancients # 3
The Dark Lords of Hattusha
Written and directed by Martin Wilson
First broadcast on BBC One in November 2006

It is not available on a DVD and it is not listed on the Amazon website, but it is available online (via you tube).

This film is built on three elements: re-enactments, pictures of the ancient sites and interviews with modern scholars. The same three elements used for the Turkish film. In fact, I think most modern documentaries about ancient history are based on these three elements.

Two of the four scholars interviewed in the BBC film also appear in the Turkish film: Trevor Bryce and Theo van den Hout.

You say the BBC film runs for about half an hour. This is not quite accurate. It runs for 59 minutes, while the Turkish film runs for 129 minutes (including credits at the end).

I like both of them. I think they are well done. In many respects they are similar, but the BBC film has a bit more focus on the language and the writing, while the Turkish film provides more historical background. This is possible, because it is more than twice as long as the film from BBC.

When you say you dislike the Turkish film and like the BBC film, I am puzzled, because there is no obvious reason to give them different ratings. I would like to ask you: why do you think the BBC film is better than the Turkish film?


Torben Retboll

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Dec 2012 13:56:51 GMT
Arch Stanton says:
Was it an hour long? I don't remember. I don't remember Bryce being in there either. Basically, I liked that the BBC one was faster paced and seemed to have more focus. The Turkish one tried to cover everything and treated its subject slowly. Since I don't much care for documentaries I appreciated the superior visual recreations in the BBC one. Some of the recreations in the Turkish one were good, but the sets and city in the BBC one were much better (particularly the archives).

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Dec 2012 16:43:17 GMT
Last edited by the author on 20 Mar 2013 11:39:18 GMT
JPS says:
Dear Arch Stanton,

Thank you very much for having writen this review on what is (are) a (a couple) rather excellent book(s) on a Kingdom and its little-known civilization. You made me want to read them and, now that I have, I am grateful for it. I think I will have to write reviews on these two, even if they may not be as good as yours, if only because these books certainly deserve to be read...
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