The Secret Of The Hittites * C.W. Ceram (1956)

This book was first published in 1955 under the vague title “Enge Schlucht und schwarzer Berg” (‘Narrow canyon and black mountain’), but soon translated to English. It is not a book about the Hittites, but a book about ‘Hittitology’, the branch of science that came after the investigations started with a few lucky findings. Ceram (a pseudonym for Kurt Marek) is not a ‘Hittitologist’ either, but a man who started writing for newspapers and later dedicated his skills to books. The book gives the fascinating story of the discovery of an ’empire’ that had long been thought to have been just one of the Palestinean tribes mentioned in the Bible. Different archeologists have made some lucky discoveries in areas far away from eachother in the late 19th century. Later these findings were connected to the same peoples and (falsely) called “Hittites”. As investigations continued, the Hittites proved to have been a power not only living between the Egyptians and the Sumerians, but also of comparable power and eloquence. Ceram fills his book with anecdotes about the people digging for treasures, their adventures in the inhabitable lands of nowadays Turkey, the people trying to decipher the ‘unknown script from an unknown culture in an unknown language’, the problems of dating the findings and all the problems the scholars of a new science run into. The book reads easily and is well-written. There is of course some information about the Hittites, but the Hittites themselves are not the subject of this book. Ceram’s book is an amusing read, but I hoped for other sort of information.
1956 Phoenix Press, isbn 1842122959

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