Hittites, or Hatti, an ancient people who largely dominated Asia Minor from about 1800 to 1200 B.C. The Hittites were long obscure in history. In the 20th century archeologists, following clues found in Egyptian and Assyrian writings, found the site of the Hittite capital, Hattusas, near Bogazkoy in north-central Turkey. Thousands of cuneiform tablets from the royal library enabled scholars in the 1930's to decipher the Hittite language. The records proved that the Hittites were one of the most powerful peoples of the ancient Middle East.

The Hittites were a warrior people, of the Indo-European language family, who migrated into Asia Minor about 2200 B.C. They were divided at first into many small kingdoms, apparently joined together in a confederacy. Gradually the stronger rulers extended their domains. It was probably in the late 17th century B.C. that the Hittites were united in a powerful empire, known as the Old Kingdom, with its capital at Hattusas. At that time they conquered several kingdoms in Syria. In the early 16th century B.C. they attacked and destroyed Babylon.

The New Kingdom that arose about 1430 B.C. used a new form of writing—a hieroglyphic system invented by the Hittites themselves. The Syrian kingdoms had meanwhile fallen to Egypt. In about the 1370's B.C. the Hittites retook Syria and conquered the Mitanni. The New Kingdom dominated the Middle East until overwhelmed by invaders some 150 years later. The Hittites were users of iron and introduced it into the Mediterranean countries. The Hittites of the Bible were descendants of refugee groups in Syria.