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Beginning 19th century-around 1000 BCEBeginning 19th century-around 1000 BCE


Dead languages ||| Anatolia / Languages
Hittite
Hittite: nesili


Extinct Indo-European language of Anatolia, used in ancient times by the Hittites. It was in use from the beginning of the 19th century BCE, or earlier, and abandoned around 1000 BCE.
The name the Hittites used for their language was nesili, "language of Nesa" or nesumnili, "language of the Neshite". Nesa was one of the most important cities of ancient Anatolia.
Hittite language arrived or emerged in Anatolia and northern Syria in the beginning of the 19th century BCE. Being an Indo-European language, it was soon exposed to influences from local non-Indo-European languages. The most important changes to the language came with lexical and phonetic changes, vowels and new terms were borrowed from local languages. Still, central elements from Proto-Indo-European languages would remain intact.
Our sources to the Hittite language are rich, at Hattusha about 25,000 tablets and fragments have been found. The texts are in two variations, cuneiform and hieroglyphic. Hittite cuneiform is developed on a variant which also is seen from Alalakh. Cuneiform provides the oldest, dating back to 1600 BCE. These texts represent the oldest written examples of any Indo-European language. The newest examples of Hittite texts come from around 1000 BCE.
The Hittite state used Akkadian as its international language, Sumerian was also of some use.
There may been correspondence between Hittite and a language referred to as Kaneshite. The latter is derived from the Cappadocian tablets (19th-18th centuries BCE).
Attempts bave been made to classify Hittite into categories Old, Middle and New. Middle Hittite is then the period of political and cultral weakness, the century between ca. 1500 and ca. 1400 BCE.

Research history
1900's Research into the Arzawa letters (found in Tell el-Amarna, Egypt), written in Hittite.
1902: Norwegian, J. A. Knudtzon, deciphers Hittite.
1915: Czech Bedrich Hrozný is able to It is finally suggested that the languages researched were Indo-European.




By Tore Kjeilen