Research Project
The Contextualisation of the Hittite Mythological Texts

The Hittite mythological texts are mainly handed down from the archives of their capital, Hattusa. In addition to local Anatolian myths, these archives contained a considerable number of texts of Syrian-Mesopotamian origin (Hurrian, Babylonian and a few West Semitic myths). The text corpus was recently made accessible in digitalised form through a project of the Philipps Universität Marburg directed by Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Rieken in cooperation with the Hethitologie Portal Mainz. The digital publication offers an excellent basis for investigating the contextualisation, the Sitz im Leben, of the mythological texts of the Hittites.
The Anatolian myths are situated in a cultic context. They are in many cases integrated into religious festivals and were recited in the course of the festive event and possibly also acted out in performance. In investigating the inner-textual connectivity between the various myths (or mythemes) and the associated rituals and other texts, the intention here is not only to clarify the aetiological functions, but also to shed light on the situative contexts in which these texts found use. The foreign-language myths, on the other hand, stand as narratives in their own right and are not incorporated into ritual texts. It is possible that also some Hurrian myths, which are designated as ‘song’, were recited orally. In this case, one needs to consider both a possible cult context and also performance for entertainment purposes on other occasions (e.g. at celebrations in the palace).
Foreign language texts were brought to Hattusa at the instigation of the Hittite rulers. In view of the non-Anatolian myths and their Hittite adaptations, one may presume that they were preserved together with other Sumerian-Akkadian and Hurrian text compositions as school literature and out of interest in the knowledge of neighbouring cultures.
When investigating the context of the mythological texts, the location where each individual text was discovered (in as far as this is known) is also of relevance. A considerable number of archives are located in Hattusa, and these – judging by the sites and the texts that survived therein – served differing purposes. The organisation of the Hittite knowledge has been the subject of recent scholarly discourse. On the basis of this, exploring the origin of the mythological texts, their distribution in the archives, and the texts stored together with them can help to shed light on their Sitz im Leben.

Selected Publications

Bawanypeck, D. 2007. „Die Königinnen auf den Siegeln“ in: A. Archi – R. Francia (Hg.): Acts of the VI. International Congress of Hittitology, Rome, 05.-09.2005. (Studi micenei ed egeo-anatolici 49), Rom: pp. 49-58.

Bawanypeck, D. 2006. “Die hethitischen Königssiegel vom Westbau des Nisantepe in Bogazköy-Hattusa” in D.P. Mielke, U.-D. Schoop und J. Seeher (Hg.): Strukturierung und Datierung in der hethitischen Archäologie (BYZAS 4). Istanbul: Veröffentlichungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts: pp. 109-123.

Bawanypeck, D. 2005. Die Rituale der Auguren (Texte der Hethiter 25). Heidelberg: Winter.

Bawanypeck, D. 2005. “Arzawäische Ritualpraktiken – Informationen aus Hattusa” in D. Prechel (Hg.): Motivation und Mechanismen des Kulturkontaktes in der späten Bronzezeit (Eothen 13). Florenz: LoGisma, pp. 1-18.

Haas, V. unter Mitwirkung von D. Bawanypeck. 2003. Materia Magica et Medica Hethitica: Ein Beitrag zur Heilkunde im Alten Orient. Vol. I und II. Berlin / New York: de Gruyter.