The extensive surviving ritual literature of the Hittite archives is distinguished by its clear connections to non-Hittite sources; “foreign” rituals were adopted in Hattusa, and a whole series of rituals can be explicitly differentiated in terms of regional “ritual schools” – or at least they give this impression. The sources provide not only the name of the “author” of individual rituals, but also his place of origin; whole groups are assigned places of origin, so that the literature speaks of “Arzawa Rituals”, “Kizzuwatna Rituals”, and so on. However, whereas in the archives of the capital city Hattusa one encounters a whole series of rituals that very clearly originate from elsewhere – Northern Syria, Mittani, Assyria or Babylon – the majority of this “imported” ritual literature does not differ from the remaining Hittite sources. Thus, the question naturally arises what was the nature of the statements of origin contained in so many of these texts. Are we actually dealing with local reception of “global” knowledge, or with a fiction? Can the knowledge that underlies these rituals and ritual groups be distinguished on the basis of regional origins? More generally, what role is played by this regional localization of knowledge traditions? Can knowledge be divided into “global” and “regional”, and if so, how do these classes interact?


Research into these questions included the preparation of a catalog of relevant ritual texts and of the practices employed in their use (ritual acts, incantation formulas, etc.), and the collection of references which point to regional specializations (places, materials used, linguistic characteristics, writing traditions, etc.). An important role in this research is played by the grouping of texts into regional ritual schools, comparison with other cuneiform ritual traditions outside of Asia minor, questions regarding dependencies, acquisitions, etc.

The related dissertation project (B-4-1-1) The global ritual knowledge and the local ritual schools in the Hittite tradition explored the extent to which regional variants of a global knowledge of incantations can be identified and whether these variants indeed represent specific traditions of knowledge. For this purpose, the study collected and arranged the various practices (recitations, acts, materials, etc.) with regard to their actual or presumed origin, linguistic characteristics, or cultic contexts (for example divine names) in order to analyze possible relationships and dependencies. One of the central questions was whether regional “ritual schools” could actually be identified and how they related to individual scribal or scholastic traditions.

The second, central topic of the project group was the question of the conditions in which ritual descriptions were produced as specific forms of the production and dissemination of knowledge. Research focused less on the relevant texts themselves than on the circumstances and contexts through which they arose: the persons involved as well as their respective backgrounds, the manner in which they interacted with one another, and the ways in which they dealt with and composed texts. This includes the question of the role of authorship or how and why texts like the Hittite incantation rituals were produced, received, and put into practice.

Related Publications

Jörg Klinger, “Die Entwicklung von Herrschergenealogien bei den hethitischen Großkönigen”, in: Almut-Barbara Renger and Markus Witte (Eds.), Sukzession in Religionen: Autorisierung – Legitimierung – Wissenstransfer, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2017

Jörg Klinger, Kerstin P. Hofmann, Reinhard Bernbeck, Lily Grozdanova, Federico Longo, Ulrike Peter, Stefan Schreiber and Felix Wiedemann, “The Trialectics of Knowledge, Space and Identity in Ancient Civilizations and in the Study of Antiquity”, in: Space and Knowledge. Topoi Research Group Articles, eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies, Special Volume 6 (2016), 349–388

Jörg Klinger, “The Imperial Space – The Early Hittite Kingdom”, in: Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum, Nicole Brisch and Jesper Eidem (Eds.), Constituent, Confederate, and Conquered Space in Upper Mesopotamia. The Emergence of the Mittani State, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2014, 75–92