Birth and Motherhood Among The Hittites

Authored by: Gary Beckman

Women in Antiquity

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138808362
eBook ISBN: 9781315621425
Adobe ISBN: 9781317219910


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Sexual reproduction is fundamental for most beings in our world, a fact that was well recognized by the Hittites of Late Bronze Age Anatolia. Human propagation, while of primary concern to the community, was simply one aspect of the general fertility of the cosmos. This perspective may be recognized in a mythological narrative in which a deity becomes angry and abandons his sphere of responsibility, with the result that the universe literally seizes up:

Mist seized the windows. Smoke seized the house. On the hearth the logs were stifled. [On the altars] the gods were stifled. In the fold the sheep were stifled. In the corral the cows were stifled. The sheep refused her lamb. The cow refused her calf.

(The god) Telipinu went off and took away grain, the fertility of the herds, growth(?), plenty(?), and satiety into the wilderness, to the meadow and the moor. Telipinu proceeded to disappear into the moor. The ḫalenzu-plant spread over him. Barley and wheat no longer grow. Cows, sheep, and humans no longer conceive, and those who are (already) pregnant do not give birth in this time. 1

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