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Aštata: A Case of Hittite Imperial Religious Policy

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The Hittite documentation concerning the Land of Aštata on the Euphrates, with Emar as capital, can now be better evaluated thanks to a more precise chronological order of the documentation from Emar (1400–1180 b.c.). Hittite rule did not exercise any religious imperialism, on the contrary, it was Mursili ii who transferred to Hattusa some Aštata cults for the Syrian goddess Išḫara. He did not refrain from calling to his court priests from Emar in order to celebrate the proper rites to the goddess in an emergency. The king of Karkamiš, who exercised Hittite control over Emar, sent there one of his diviners to enquire through oracles if the local gods were in favour of his travelling to the city. A reorganization of cults promoted by Tuthaliya iv was at the origin of the introduction in Emar of a liturgy for some Hittite gods. This was not a superimposition of a theological organized pantheon over the local gods, but personal gods of the king; their cult was committed to the local family of diviners in charge of the cults of the city, with which the Hittites maintained close relations. Apparently, Hittite religion never deeply penetrated Emar society. A group of seals used by some Emariotes, however, presents the same iconographies as Hittite seals, with gods of the Hittite pantheon, an evidence of adhesion to the Hittite rule.

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