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The Hittites › Ancient History

Definition and Origins

by Joshua J. Mark
published on 01 May 2018
Lion Gate at Hattusa (Carole Raddato)

The Hittites occupied the ancient region of Anatolia (also known as Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey ) prior to 1700 BCE, developed a culture apparently from the indigenous Hatti (and possibly the Hurrian) people, and expanded their territories into an empire which rivaled, and threatened, the established nation of Egypt. They are repeatedly mentioned throughout the Hebrew Tanakh (also known as the Christian Old Testament) as the adversaries of the Israelites and their god. According to Genesis 10, they were the descendants of Heth, son of Canaan, who was the son of Ham, born of Noah (Genesis 10: 1-6).The name they are known by today, therefore, comes from the Bible and from the Amarna Letters of Egypt which reference a "Kingdom of Kheta" identified today as the `Kingdom of Hatti' (the designation the land of the Hittites was known by) but their own documents refer to them as Nesili, as do others of the time.
The Hittite control of the region is divided by modern-day scholars into two periods:
  • The Old Kingdom (1700-1500 BCE)
  • The New Kingdom, also known as the Hittite Empire (1400-1200 BCE)
There is an interregnum between these two which, to those who accept that version of history, is known as the Middle Kingdom. The discrepancy between those scholars who recognize a Middle Kingdom and those who do not arises from the fact that there was no discontinuity between the Old Kingdom and the New, merely a `dark age' of less than 100 years about which little is known. The Hittite Empire reached its peak between under the reign of King Suppiluliuma I (c.1344-1322 BCE) and his son Mursilli II (c.1321-1295 BCE) after which it declined and, after repeated attacks by the Sea Peoples and the Kaska tribe, fell to the Assyrians.


Little was known of the Hittites other than the references from the Bible and fragmentary documentation from Egypt until the late 19th century CE when excavations began at Boghaskoy (modern-day Bogazkale, Turkey) which was once the site of Hattusa, capital of the Hittite Empire. Historian Christopher Scarre describes Hattusa as
a vast fortress- city sprawling over the rocky terrain, with craggy citadels and elaborate temples. It became the center of a powerful empire that covered not only most of Anatolia but also at times extended far to the south, into Syria and the Levant (206).


Hattusa was originally founded by the Hatti (an aboriginal tribe of Anatolia) in 2500 BCE, and their culture may have provided the basis for that of the Hittites. This very important complex and those who built it along with their vast empire, however, remained almost unknown until their writings were discovered, first by the Irish missionary William Wright in 1884 CE, and then by the German archaeologist Hugo Winckler in 1906 CE. By the year 1912 CE, Winckler “had recovered 10,000 clay tablets from the Hittite royal archives” (Scarre & Fagan, 206). These tablets, on which they had recorded their history and transactions, were deciphered relatively quickly. The historian Erdal Yavuz describes the process of decipherment in one instance (though there were other scholars who contributed to an understanding of the Hittite script, notably Archibald Sayce, to name only one):
Bedrich Hrozny, 1879-1952, a Czech professor at the University of Vienna, in 1916 deciphered the Hittite language. The starting point was a phrase on an inscription in cuneiform : `Nu Ninda-An Ezzateni, Vatar-Ma Ekuteni'. Since many Babylonian words were included in Hittite texts, the clue was provided by the Babylonian word `ninda', which means `food' or `bread'. Hrozny asked himself a simple question: What does one do with food or bread? The answer, of course, was one eats it. So the word `ezzateni' must be related to eating. Then the `-an' suffix on `ninda' must be a marker for a direct object. With these two propositions in hand, Hrozny looked at both the vocabulary and the grammar of Indo-European languages. He noted that the verb to eat is similar to the Hittite `ezza' – not only in English, but also in Greek (edein), Latin (edere) and German (essen), and especially in medieval German (ezzan). If that was true, the second line of the inscription was not much of a problem, since it began with the word `vatar', which could easily be translated as English `water' or German `wasser'. Hrozny proposed the reading of the whole sentence as “Now Bread You Eat, Water You Drink” and this turned out to be right for the whole Hittite language. It was of Indo-European origin. ((1)
Hittite Empire c. 1300 BCE

Hittite Empire c. 1300 BCE

Once Hrozny's work was published, however, it initially both clarified and obscured the history of the Hittites. There had long been an accepted theory among scholars of ancient history that India was invaded from the north by Indo-Europeans known as Aryans (the so-called ` Aryan Invasion') and that, somewhere, there existed a homeland from which these invaders descended into India. The texts uncovered by Winckler seemed to corroborate this theory. Since there was no evidence that Indo-European languages were known in Anatolia at that time, it was postulated that there had to have been some kind of invasion and, most probably, from the same mysterious homeland from which the alleged invasion of India was launched. The historian Marc Van die Mieroop addresses this situation, writing :
Under the influence of an outdated nineteenth–century idea that there was an Indo-European homeland somewhere north of India, much attention in scholarship has been devoted to finding evidence for an invasion.This search is futile, however. There is no reason to assume that speakers of Indo-European languages were not always present in Anatolia, nor can we say that they would have been a clearly identifiable group by the second millennium. We can only observe that when the textual sources inform us of the languages used in Anatolia, some people spoke Indo-European ones, others not. (119)



The Old Hittite Kingdom (1700-1500 BCE) is first evidenced by the sacking of Hattusa by the Hittite King Anitta of the neighboring kingdom of Kussara in 1700 BCE. Hattusa had existed as the powerful city of the Hatti since 2500 BCE and, long after the Hittites conquered the city and dominated the region, it was still referred to as `the land of the Hatti'. The city had repulsed attacks by Sargon the Great of Akkad (2334-2279 BCE) and his grandson Naram-Sin (2261-2224 BCE) but fell to King Anitta who burned the city, cursed it, and cursed anyone who would attempt to re-build it. Not long after its destruction, however, it was re-built by another king of Kussara named Hattusili I whose name means `One from Hattusa'. As Hattusili seems to have been formerly known as `Man from Kussara', some scholars claim that he took his new name once he had re-built the city as a symbolic expression of the new prominence of Hattusa over Kussara (though this claim has been challenged by other scholars). Due to a lack of primary evidence, it cannot be determined when he took the name or why, but it is clear that Hattusili I founded the kingdom of the Hittites.
Syrian Lion Statue

Syrian Lion Statue

According to the ancient document The Edict of Telepinu (16th century BCE), Hattusili was a great warrior who conquered a vast region. An account of his reign in the Edict reads, in part:
Afterwards, Hattusili was king, and his sons, brothers, in-laws, family members, and troops were all united.Wherever he went on campaign he controlled the enemy land with force. He destroyed the lands one after the other, took away their power, and made them the borders of the sea. When he came back from campaign, however, each of his sons went somewhere to a country, and in his hand the great cities prospered. But, when later the princes' servants became corrupt, they began to devour the properties, conspired constantly against their masters, and began to shed their blood. (Van die Mieroop, 120)
This passage is interpreted to mean that Hattusili established a unified kingdom with the support of his extended family but, once it was accomplished, his sons rebelled against him using the resources of the regions he had placed them in charge of.The reference to the “princess' servants” has been interpreted to mean either the sons of Hattusili or the ministers and advisors of those sons who rose against their legitimate rule. Whether the sons were assassinated or were the agents of rebellion, they are not mentioned in the succession. On his deathbed, Hattusili chose his grandson, Mursilli, as his heir. Van die Mieroop writes, “The new king's reign is poorly known, but the laconic sources mention two extremely important acts: the destructions of Aleppo and of Babylon. His military operations were not followed by an occupation, however” (121). Unlike his grandfather, Mursilli seems to have conducted raids on other kingdoms solely for the loot to be gained and not to add their land and resources to his own kingdom. The Edict of Telepinu records his reign:
When Mursilli was king in Hattusa, his sons, brothers, in-laws, family members, and troops were all united. He controlled the enemy land with force, took away their power, and made them the borders of the sea. He went to the city Aleppo, destroyed Aleppo, and took the deportees from Aleppo and its goods to Hattusa. Afterwards he went to Babylon and destroyed Babylon. He took the deportees from Babylon and its goods to Hattusa. Hantili was cupbearer and he had Harapshili, Mursilli's sister, as wife. Zidanta stole up to Hantili and they committed an evil deed: they killed Mursilli and shed his blood. (Van die Mieroop, 120)
Hantili was Mursilli's brother-in-law. Zidanta was Hantili's son-in-law. They conspired to assassinate Mursilli and take the throne, in which they were successful. Hantili then reigned as king for approximately 30 years (c.1526-1496 BCE) but seems to have accomplished little in that time. Zidanta, having grown tired of watching Hantili enjoy the kingship while doing little else, assassinated him and murdered his heirs. Zidanta then became king after Hantili and ruled for ten equally uneventful years, until he was assassinated by his son Ammuna. Ammuna ruled for 20 years (1486-1466 BCE) and, in that time, proved a worse king than his three predecessors.


The vast kingdom which Hattusili had created fell apart as more and more regions rebelled against a central rule, and Ammuna did nothing to stop the insurgence or placate the territories in any way. Ammuna died, apparently, of natural causes and was succeeded by a son of a lesser wife, Huzziya (known as Huzziya I) who assassinated the two eldest legitimate sons of Ammuna in order to take the throne. Huzziya reigned poorly for five years until he was deposed in 1460 BCE by a younger son (or son-in-law) of Ammuna named Telepinu who banished him from the kingdom (he was later murdered). Telepinu did his best to restore the kingdom to its former glory but, by this point, there was little to be done. He is most famous for The Edict of Telepinu, which records the history and past glory of the Hittites and laments the sad state the kingdom has come to in his time. Telepinu was the last king of the Old Kingdom and, after his edict, the history of the Hittites enters a `dark age' about which little is known.
Hittite Relief of Musicians

Hittite Relief of Musicians

The actual day-to-day life and culture of the Hittites is equally mysterious, as the inscriptions which have been deciphered deal mainly with the kings and their campaigns. It is known that the Hittites wrote using Akkadian script but in their own Indo-European language (which is what made deciphering the tablets so difficult in that scholars of Akkadian could read the words but could not understand them) and used cylinder seals to sign documents and mark property as people did throughout Mesopotamia, suggesting to some scholars a clear link between the two cultures. At the same time, however, Akkadian was the lingua franca of the age, and Sumer (southern Mesopotamia) had long been in contact through trade with the Hatti, and so it seems more probable that the Mesopotamian culture had influenced the Hatti, not the Hittites, and the Hittites appropriated the Hattian culture through conquest. Those details of Hittite life and culture which have come to light seem to be slight variations on that of the Hatti. The precise nature of the relationship between the two peoples remains unclear, however, due to a lack of primary sources and, as mentioned, the focus of the documents on the activities of the rulers rather than the story of the people.


The history of the Hittites resumes with the so-called New Kingdom (1400-1200 BCE), also known as the Hittite Empire.Although there were Hittite kings before him (such as Tudhaliya I and Tudhaliya II), this history really begins with King Suppiluliuma I who took the throne c. 1344 BCE. The historian Erdal Yavuz writes:
The Hittite king Suppiluliuma dominated the history of the Middle East during the 14th century BC, although the dates of his reign are in question. He was originally thought to have ascended the throne about 1380 and to have reigned for roughly four decades. During the early years of his reign, Suppiluliuma consolidated the Hittite homeland and improved the defenses of Hattusa. The greatly extended city walls were built, enclosing an area of more than 120 hectares. The Hittite Empire began to expand to the south-east and most of the northern Syrian cities submitted [to Suppilulima's rule]. (3)
Under Suppilulima's reign, the vast kingdom of Mittani was reduced to a Hittite vassal state and the fertile Levant region, including important port cities like Byblos, were taken from the Egyptians. Letters from Suppiluliuma to the pharaohs Amenhotep III and his successor Akhenaten are preserved in the Amarna Letters, among them one having to do with Mitanni. Egypt had formerly been a strong ally of the Mittani, and the withdrawal of Amenhotep III's support for the Mittani King Tushratta left Suppiluliuma I free to do as he pleased in the region. Suppiluliuma I had recently conquered the region of Syria and made clear his support for a rival to the throne of Mitanni; Egypt, fearing the strength of the Hittite army, then withdrew their backing of Tushratta. Under the reign of Akhenaten, Suppiluliuma I continued to expand his empire by taking kingdoms and vassal states from Egypt, such as Byblos, with little effort. Following Akhenaten's death, his son Tutankhamuntook the throne of Egypt and sent the general Horemheb against the Hittites to try to halt their ascent; these campaigns, however, were largely unsuccessful because the Hittite army had grown stronger as the Egyptian army had declined.
When Tutankhamun died suddenly in 1327 BCE, his widow-queen Ankhsenamun wrote to Suppiluliuma I asking him to send her one of his sons to marry, as she could not bear to marry a servant, could not rule alone, and had no sons to assume the throne. This was an unprecedented request from a queen of Egypt and, after making sure the message was legitimate, Suppiluliuma I sent his son Zananza to Egypt to marry her and become pharaoh. Zananza never reached the borders of Egypt, however, as he was murdered (most likely by the Egyptian general Horemheb or the vizier Ay) in order to prevent a foreigner from ruling in Egypt. Suppiluliuma I focused his military campaigns even more directly against Egypt following his son's murder and conquered the remainder of the Levant.
Hittite War Chariot

Hittite War Chariot

Suppiluliuma I died in the plague which spread across the region in 1322 BCE. It is thought that the Egyptian captives he brought back as slaves from his conquests carried the plague with them to Hattusa. Suppiluliuma I was succeeded by his son Arnuwanda II who also died from plague and was succeeded by his younger brother Mursilli II. Arnuwanda II had been personally groomed for the throne by Suppiluliuma I, whereas Mursilli II had little experience and was regarded as no more than a child. None of the kings of the surrounding regions took the young monarch at all seriously when he ascended to the throne in 1321 BCE but, as they would soon find, this was a mistake.


Mursilli II had learned more from his father than anyone thought and quickly set about conquering tribes which had long proved a problem (such as the Kaska). He first secured the borders of the Hittite Empire and then expanded them. After a reign of 25 years, he died and left the throne to his son Muwatalli II (1295-1272 BCE), most famous for facing Ramesses the Great of Egypt's 19th dynasty at the Battle of Kadesh. Muwatalli II was succeeded by his son Mursilli III, who reigned for only five years, and was succeeded by Muwatalli II's brother, Hatusilli III, best known for his participation in the world's first peace treaty, The Treaty of Kadesh, between the Hittites and the Egyptians in 1258 BCE.
In 1237 BCE, Hatusilli III died and rule passed to his son Tudhaliya IV. At this time the Assyrians were growing in power and, in 1230 BCE, challenged the sovereignty of the Hittites for control of the region formerly belonging to the Mitanni. At the Battle of Nihriya, in c. 1245 BCE, the forces of Tudhaliya IV were defeated by the Assyrian army and this begins the decline of the Hittite Empire. Yavuz writes,
A mass of attacks from [a people of unknown origin] known as `the Sea Peoples' destroyed much of Asia Minor, including the Hittite State, about 1200 BCE and, after that, the Hittites were never able to restore their state again (4).
The last king of the Hittite Empire was Suppiluliuma II, famous for his part in the first naval battle in recorded history in 1210 BCE, in which the Hittite fleet was victorious over the Cypriots. Still, the victory was the exception, rather than the rule, of Suppiluliuma II's reign, and the growing might of the Assyrians, combined with repeated raids by the Sea Peoples and the Kaska tribe, who had risen again, chipped away at the stability of the empire until it broke apart. Hattusa was sacked by the Kaskas in 1190 BCE and burned. Suppiluliuma II is thought to have died in this engagement. Christopher Scarre writes,
The apogee of Hittite power came under king Suppiluliuma I when his armies competed with Egypt and Mitanni for control of the Levant [and] the Hittite empire collapsed around 1200 BC, dissolving south of the Taurus Mountains into powerful Neo-Hittite city-states which were absorbed into the Assyrian empire in the ninth century BC (215).
The Assyrians destroyed whatever they could not use from the Hittite empire and stamped the region with their own culture and values. The area was still known as “the land of the Hatti” down to the year 630 BCE, even though the people, by that time, no longer remembered the Hatti or the Hittite kings and their achievements.


Wars of the Diadochi › Antique Origins

Definition and Origins

by Donald L. Wasson
published on 14 July 2016
Diadochi Satraps 323 BCE (Fornadan)

On June 10, 323 BCE Alexander the Great died in Babylon. Although historians have debated the exact cause most agree that the empire he built was left without adequate leadership for there was no clear successor or heir. The military commanders who had followed the king for over a decade across the sands of Asia were left to fight each other over their small piece of the territorial pie. These were the Wars of Succession or Wars of the Diadochi. What followed were over three decades of intense rivalry. In the end three dynasties would emerge, remaining in power until the time of the Romans.


In 334 BCE Alexander and his army left Macedonia and Greece in the capable hands of Antipater I and crossed the Hellespont to conquer the Persian Empire. Now, after a decade of fighting, King Darius was dead, dying at the hands of one of his own commanders, Bessus. Although many in his army wanted to simply return home, the new, self-proclaimed king of Asia was making plans for the future. His proposed Exile Decree called for all Greek exiles to return to their native cities ;however, as he sat in his tent at Babylon, trouble brewed throughout his empire. Many of his loyal troops not only protested the presence of Persians among their ranks but rebelled against his insistence that they take Persian wives. Several of the satraps - those he had put in charge to govern the occupied territories - were being executed for treason and malfeasance. After Alexander's death, other areas, even some closer to home, would seize the opportunity to revolt. Athens and Aetolia, upon hearing of the death of the king, rebelled, initiating the Lamian War (323 – 322 BCE). It took the intervention of Antipater and Craterus to force an end to it at the Battle at Crannon when the Athenian commander Leosthenes was killed.
Of course, Alexander did not live to fulfill his dreams. After a night of heavy partying, he fell ill; his health gradually deteriorated. There were those, his mother Olympias included, who claimed he had been poisoned in a supposed plot conceived by the philosopher and tutor Aristotle and Antipater, fulfilled by his sons Cassander and Iolaus. On his death bed, barely able to speak, the king handed his signet ring to his loyal commander and chiliarch (replacing Hephaestion ) Perdiccas. In a scene befitting a king, he died surrounded by his commanders. Questions exist to this day concerning Alexander's final words - “to the best.” - and what they meant. Since he had not specifically named a successor, the primary concern of those closest to the king, especially his commanders, was to choose a successor.


Without Alexander, there was no government and no one had the authority to make decisions. Apparently, since he had treated his commanders equally, not wanting to create rivalry, his final words were meaningless. There was no one considered “the best.” There were, however, two likely candidates that could be considered as a possible successor. First, there was Alexander's half-brother Arrhidaeus, the son of Philip II and Philinna of Larissa. He was already in Babylon. Next, one might consider waiting until the child of Alexander's Bactrian wife Roxanne was born, but the future Alexander IV would not be born until August.


According to one historian, the struggle for leadership would be more bitter and destructive than the decade-long war against the Persians. The commanders were split: some favored Arrhidaeus, others wanted Alexander's unborn son, and then there were those who wanted to simply divide the empire among themselves. Perdiccas favored Roxanne and the future Alexander IV. For self-centered reasons, Perdiccas preferred Alexander's wife and child; he would then be able to serve as regent for the young king. Later, with Perdiccas's approval, Roxanne, favoring her son as the only true heir, chose to eliminate any competition, even if there were no children, by killing Alexander's wife Strateria, the daughter of Darius, and her sister Drypetis.To add insult she threw their bodies down a well.
Hoping to maintain a unified empire, Perdiccas brought the commanders together to decide on a successor. Many disliked the idea of waiting for the birth of Roxanne's child. Roxanne was not a pure Macedonian. One commander even suggested Alexander's four-year-old son, Heracles, by his mistress Barsine, but this idea was easily dismissed. Some looked to Arrhidaeus, and even though he was considered mentally handicapped, he was still the half-brother of Alexander and a Macedonian. The infantry commander Meleager and a number of his fellow infantry staged a revolt, choosing Arrhidaeus as the successor and even naming him Philip III. Meleager disliked Perdiccas, considering him a threat to the state. He even tried to arrest him. Seeing this as a betrayal, Perdiccas had Meleager executed in the sanctuary where he had sought refuge. The revolt was quietly suppressed. Some commanders decided to briefly put aside their differences and wait for the birth of Roxanne's child with guardians even being appointed to oversee the safety of both the child and the newly crowned Philip III.The regent Antipater would eventually have both of them brought to Macedon for safety.
Alexander The Great and Roxane

Alexander The Great and Roxane

However, the death of Meleager changed the attitude of many of the commanders and set in motion the decades of war that would follow. From 323 to 281 BCE the intense competition between the commanders would escalate, as they wrestled for the control of Greece, Macedon, Asia Minor, Egypt, Central Asia, Mesopotamia and India. Although there would be brief periods of peace, the empire would never be reunited. In the end there was only one solution: the Partition of Babylon divided Alexander's kingdom among the more prominent commanders - Antipater and Craterus received Macedon and Greece, Ptolemy grabbed Egypt deposing Cleomenes, the bodyguard Lysimachus was awarded Thrace, Eumenes gained Cappadocia, and lastly, Antigonus the One-Eyed remained in Greater Phrygia.


The four Successor Wars centered on the aspirations of three individuals and their descendants: Antigonus Monophthalmus I (382 - 301 BCE), Seleucus I Nicator (358 – 281 BCE) and Ptolemy I Soter (366 – 282 BCE). It would be their heirs who formed the dynasties that would exist for two more centuries. The great empire that Alexander had built extended from Macedon and Greece, eastward through Asia Minor, southward through Syria to Egypt, and eastward again through Mesopotamia and Bactria and into India. No empire like it had ever existed, and none of the successors would ever achieve anything equal to it. From Alexander's death in 323 BCE to the death of Lysimachus in 281 BCE, the old commanders fought, making and breaking numerous alliances - all with the selfish intentions of extending their own land holdings - no one could depend on another's loyalty.
Seleucus I Nicator

Seleucus I Nicator

With the empire divided at Babylon, the commanders made their way home. Lysimachus would have to deal with a Thracian rebellion, Antipater and Craterus fought Athens and her allies in the Lamian War, and Ptolemy had to establish himself in Egypt. The new pharaoh also had to look across the Nile and determine his next move against Perdiccas. Despite their selfish concern over land, there was one commonality among all of the commanders: no one liked Perdiccas, and Perdiccas hated Ptolemy above all others. It was very obvious from the beginning that these two men would never agree. The two had even quarreled at Babylon when Perdiccas had wanted to wait for Alexander's son to be born while Ptolemy wanted to divide the empire.
As the king's chiliarch, Perdiccas had established himself securely after Alexander's death, always hoping to reunite the empire. He had the signet ring and the king's body, preparing to return it to Macedon and a newly prepared tomb. However, at Damascus the body mysteriously disappeared - stolen by Ptolemy and taken to Memphis in Egypt. Now, with the kidnapping of the body, the long disagreement finally ended in war (322 – 321 BCE). Three failed attempts to cross the Nile into Egypt cost Perdiccas his life; he own army tired of his failure and the death of 2,000 men and killed him. Some even believe Seleucus, a one-time ally of Perdiccas, was involved. Under Alexander, Seleucus had been the commander of an elite corps of hypaspists, yet he did not acquire any territory at Babylon. Instead, he was named the commander of the Companion Cavalry.His loyalty to Ptolemy in the fight against Perdiccas, however, brought him the province of Babylonia.
The First Succesor War ( 322- 320 BCE) was all about jealousy. Before his confrontation with Ptolemy, Perdiccas had already alarmed both Antipater and Craterus in Macedon as well as Antigonus in Phrygia by his army's invasion of Asia Minor. The arguments over territory began when Perdiccas became furious at Antigonus because he refused to help Eumenes keep control of his allocated territory, Cappadocia. Eumenes was the commander of Perdiccas's forces in Asia Minor. Antigonus wanted to avoid a conflict with Perdiccas and Eumenes, so he and his son Demetrius sought refuge in Macedon. They joined forces with Antipater, Craterus, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus against Perdiccas and Eumenes. Unfortunately, Craterus died in battle when he own horse fell on him. After Perdiccas's death, Eumenes became isolated, condemned to death in the Treaty of Triparadeisus.



Under the guidance of Antipater, the new treaty at Triparadeisus in 321 BCE secured many of the commanders in their allotted territories. Later, when Antipater died in 319 BCE, Cassander, his son, was not named the heir to the regency of Macedon and Greece but instead was made a cavalry commander. Antipater did not believe his son was capable of defending Macedon against the other regents. In his place, Antipater appointed a commander named Polyperchon as regent. This slight would lead to a series of conflicts between the two - Cassander would ally himself with Lysimachus and Antigonus while Polyperchon would align himself with Eumenes and later the dowager queen Olympias. However, the year 319 BCE would bring an end to the first war - Perdiccas, Craterus and Antipater were dead, Seleucus was firmly established in Babylonia, Ptolemy occupied Egypt, Lysimachus sat in Thrace, and Antigonus held much of Asia Minor. The only place of discontent was in Macedon and Greece where Cassander and Polyperchon were preparing to battle.


Over the next decade the Second Successor War (319 - 315 BCE) and Third Successor War (314 - 311 BCE) would bring about a number of dramatic changes. Cassander would roust Polyperchon from Macedon and Greece, and with the help of Antigonus establish bases at Piraeus and on the Peloponnese. And to further secure his right to sit on the Macedonian throne, he would marry the daughter of Philip II, Thessalonica. By 316 BCE at the Battle of Gabiene, Antigonus would finally be victorious against Eumenes gaining control of much of Asia- he had been ordered by Antipater at Triparadeisus to hunt down Eumenes. Eumenes would later be executed in 316 BCE after his own men betrayed him, surrendering him to Antigonus. Unfortunately, Seleucus would lose his hold on Babylonia after Antigonus's invasion, seeking refuge with Ptolemy.Luckily, he would regain his territory in 311 BCE, eventually establishing a new capital, Seleucia.


The Peace of the Dynasts was concluded in 311 BCE but quickly ended when another war, the Babylonian War (311- 309 BCE) kicked off when Seleucus invaded Babylonia with Ptolemy's support against Antigonus and his son Demetrius, regaining his lost territory at the Battle of Gaza.
In Thrace Lysimachus had been having trouble with one of the cities along the Black Sea coast. Setting his sights on the strategically important province for himself, Antigonus sent a small army to aid the city and provoke the local tribes. Finally, in 311 BCE, peace was achieved with Lysimachus remaining in control of the city, but this revolt finally drew him into the conflict that he had so long sought to avoid. He soon formed an alliance with Cassander, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.


Meanwhile, in Alexander's old homeland, Macedon, Cassander was continuing his battle against Polyperchon. Earlier, Polyperchon had fled to Epirus and aligned himself with Olympias, hoping to invade and reclaim Macedon. Cassander realized that as long as Olympias and the young Alexander IV remained alive, they would be a threat to his hold on Macedon. In 316 BCE she had ordered the assassination of her step-son Philip III - his wife Eurydice would commit suicide. In 310 BCE Cassander ordered the death of both Alexander IV and his mother Roxanne. Olympias would also die, with dignity, at the hands of his soldiers.


In the Fourth Successor War (308-301 BCE) Cassander and Ptolemy would continue to have troubles with Demetrius I of Macedon, “the Besieger of Cities”, when he invaded Greece and “liberated” Athens in 307 BCE from Cassander's governor.Later, in 302 BCE, he reinstituted the old League of Corinth. Meanwhile, Ptolemy had gradually been expanding northward, securing the island of Cyprus, only to lose to Demetrius at Salamis. Next, Demetrius chose to attack Rhodes but thanks to Ptolemy and his allies (Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander) the siege ended in negotiations. That same year, 305 BCE, the various commanders declared themselves to be kings. By 303/302 BCE the war continued as Cassander fought to keep Demetrius and Antigonus out of Macedon. Cassander had little choice but call to his allies for help. Lysimachus moved his forces into Asia Minor causing Demetrius to abandon Greece and join his father. The Battle of Ipsus brought Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Cassander against Antigonus and Demetrius. The battle would cause not only the death of Antigonus but the end of any hope of restoring Alexander's empire. Lysimachus and Seleucus divided Antigonus's territory with the former getting lands in Asia Minor while the latter took Syria where he would ultimately build the city of Antioch.
Map of the Successor Kingdoms, c. 303 BCE

Map of the Successor Kingdoms, c. 303 BCE


Although Cassander sat securely in Macedon, his safety would not last. He died in 297 BCE leaving his homeland to the army of Demetrius who declared himself king of Macedon and Greece. The victorious Lysimachus began to expand his territory further. After the death of his old ally Cassander, he set his sights on Macedon. With the assistance of King Pyrrhus of Epirus, he crossed the border and forced Demetrius out. Demetrius and his army escaped across the Hellespont and into Asia Minor, confronting the army of Seleucus. Unfortunately for Demetrius, he was immediately captured only to die in captivity in 283 BCE, although his descendants would eventually regain Macedon and Greece.
In 282 BCE Lysimachus's one-time ally Seleucus set his sights on Lysimachus's territory in Asia Minor, and in 281 BCE the two armies met at Corupedium where Lysimachus met his death. The commander who had not received any land at Babylon and, at one point, lost what little he did gain, proved to be the true winner. Unfortunately, victory would have to be celebrated by his descendants. He would die at the hands of Ptolemy's son Ptolemy Ceraunus in 281 BCE.
The death of Alexander the Great in 323 BCE had brought chaos. His failure to name a successor or heir left his commanders to eventually divide the empire among themselves. Jealousy led to over three decades of war where alliances were made and broken. The four wars of the diadochi would usher in the Hellenistic Period and bring into existence three dynasties that would exist until the time of the Romans.


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