Hittite Laws

(ca. 1650–1400 BCE)

The Hittite Laws comprise an anonymously authored collection of two hundred laws from Central Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) dating to the second millennium bce. The laws are written on clay tablets in cuneiform script. Cuneiform, from the Latin meaning “wedge-shaped,” is one of the earliest known writing systems and is composed of signs, both logographic (representing a word) and syllabic (representing a unit of sound). Scribes, who were specially trained to compose and copy documents, wrote cuneiform by pressing a stylus, usually made of reed, into the damp clay of the tablet.

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Sculptures of large figures thought to be Hittite gods on a rock wall at Gavurkale, Turkey (Library of Congress)

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