Workshop on the Hattian Language. Problems, Trends and Perspectives for Future Research

Of the several languages recorded by Hittite scribes in the cuneiform script, the Hattian language remains a particular conundrum for philologists and linguists alike. Although a century of research has produced numerous articles and also monographs devoted to the lexicography, grammar, syntax and origins of this isolated language, our understanding of Hattian is still quite modest.


Immediately following the publication of several Hattian texts, Emil Forrer made the first contributions to Hattian research in the 1920s. The subsequent decades saw no further serious efforts to interpret the isolated Anatolian language. Fortunately, an interruption of this extent has not occurred since the 1960s, when a few Hittitologists and scholars of the ancient Near East began devoting their attention to the research of Hattian in various degrees of intensity. Despite the recurrent “waves” of interest – corresponding with new generations of scholars – research of the Hattian language has not gained the same momentum and degree of interest that has been achieved for other isolated languages or Kleinkorpussprachen of the ancient Near East, for example Hurrian respectively Hieroglyphic Luwian. This is due in part to the fact that the Hattian sources known to us are principally related to central Anatolia in the Middle to Late Bronze Ages and thus bear little significance for the ancient Near East as a whole and over a longer period of time. Furthermore, the Hattian texts known to us are primarily related to cultic, religious and ritual contexts, so that little of their content appears to be directly related to questions of historical or political importance.


At the same time, with regard to the history of the culture and religion of Hittite society, continuing research has by no means minimized or marginalized the significance of the Hattian language. On the contrary, the past two decades of Hittitology have come to recognize the Hittites’ own identity of themselves – culturally, religiously and also politically – possessed a core connection with those cultural elements which are identifiable as “Hattian”. Recent linguistic studies have also emphasized the coexistence of Hattian speakers alongside speakers of Indo-European languages in Anatolia in the 3rd and 2nd millennia BCE. Improved understanding of the Hattian language is therefore more relevant than ever.


The purpose of this workshop is to gather together those scholars who have in the past and/or are currently pursuing research pertaining to the Hattian language, in order to increase mutual awareness of individual research emphases, to avoid overlaps between projects and to promote fruitful exchange and cooperation among scholars of Hattian. It can be hoped that this will lead to the establishment of a working study group which meets again in the future – regularly or irregularly, as deemed productive and feasible.


For this workshop, the organizers expressly request papers pertaining to the following topics:


- grammar and syntax of Hattian

- phonology of Hattian and the question of scribal orthography

- lexicography of Hattian

- specific Hattian texts or text corpora

- methodology of Hattian research

- new tools for Hattian research


The workshop will conclude with a round-table discussion highlighting current trends as well as addressing the challenges to be faced presently and in the future in order to improve our understanding of Hattian.


Workshop Organizers:

Dr. Zsolt Simon:


Charles Steitler M.A.:

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