The Treated Passages From Hittite Texts Project was initiated in 1973 by the late Prof. Dr. Ph.H.J. Houwink ten Cate at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and carried out and supervised since 1975 by Prof. Dr. J. de Roos until the present day.

Objective of the project is to provide a searchable list of bibliographical references to scholarly publications from the period 1900-1960 on Hittite ‘treated passages’, including complete texts, text fragments, sentences or parts of sentences that have been studied, published and/or provided with philological and/or linguistic commentary. The threshold for the inclusion of a treated text passage is set at a minimum of two consecutive words (nouns, verbs, adjectives).

Born of necessity – history and challenges of the project

At the time of the project’s start, there were no encyclopaedias or databases containing lists of publications which could be used to look up individual Hittite text passages, except for the Catalogue des textes hittites by Emmanuel Laroche (1971). Finding out what had been written by various authors on a certain text passage could therefore be a time-consuming chore. In order to fill this gap, in 1973, Philo Houwink ten Cate charged his then assistant Han de Roos to start gathering all known bibliographical references to these so-called treated passages systematically. The time frame for the publications used for these references was set to encompass the formative years of Hittitology as a discipline, roughly between 1900 and 1960, from the earliest publications on the Hittite language – when it was not yet recognized as a separate, Indo-European language – to the moment when a surge in publications appeared.[1]

In these early days of Hittitology, many conventions that are nowadays common practice did not yet exist, and this at times created problems for the database. For example, texts were frequently published under their excavation number and not under the publication number by which they are known today. This was especially problematic in the case of later joins; text fragments that had been published in their own right before 1960 often turned out to be part of a larger text, and were published as part of a new (for example) KUB number after 1960. The dilemma of which number to use in these cases often depended on the project’s assistant’s own view on what would be the most convenient for users.

Likewise, there was no common standard for naming and identifying texts in publications. All different kinds of numbers and designations were used to describe texts, sometimes even simply referring to page numbers of the first publication in which they appeared. This lack of uniformity is reflected in the database’s entries, as opinions sometimes differed on whether to use the exact designation given by a particular author or to adopt a more user-friendly system, reworking rather obscure designations into numbers that are more commonly used nowadays.

Therefore, when trying to find a certain text (passage) in the database, please keep in mind that in some (but not all) cases, text numbers have been re-assigned to fit the nowadays conventional publication numbers rather than the designations that are mentioned in early publications. The Konkordanz der hethitischen Keilschrifttafeln is a very helpful tool for identifying excavation and publication numbers, and we strongly recommend using this website alongside our database for the best results.

Although the objective of the Treated Passages From Hittite Texts Project has always been to produce a bibliographical repertoire that is as complete as possible, not every single publication that appeared between 1900-1960 could be included. This is due to a number of reasons. One of them is that the focus has always been on publications from countries that were known to be active in the study of the Hittite language. Publications that were unknown to the creators of the project, impossible to obtain or simply in a language that could not easily be read by the project’s assistants (such as Russian or Japanese), were therefore not included.

As the work on the project progressed, so did technological developments. During the second half of the 1980’s, the project entered a new phase and all the data that had previously been gathered on paper system cards was digitized and entered in a computer program called dBase. Due to the (very) restrictive format of this early computer program, as well as the need to adhere to publishing requirements for a paper catalogue, the more comprehensive data on the system cards had to be compressed significantly, inevitably leading to some loss of information.

In the early 1990’s, as De Roos was appointed General Director of the Netherlands Institute for the Near East (NINO), the project moved with him from Amsterdam to Leiden. Throughout his directorship at the NINO, De Roos continued teaching and publishing on Hittite texts, as well as working on and supervising the Treated Passages Project on an on-off basis, making good use of the extensive collections of the NINO library. It was during these years that the project and its digitized data narrowly survived another important transition, when it turned out that the dBase files could no longer be ‘read’ or handled by current computers and all the data had to be transferred from dBase to Excel to save the digital progress made up till then.

The final stage and latest technical challenge presented itself in 2013. Up to this point, the data had always been prepared to be published as a paper catalogue. As time and digital technologies had progressed though, it had become clear that users would probably be better served with an online, searchable file than a static, old-fashioned paper catalogue.  Although the data had already been converted into an Excel-file at that time, the format had remained the same as in the older dBase files: convenient for publication as a book but less so for application online. Making the data more uniform and more suitable for online use proved to be an arduous task. In addition, cross checking the data with its bibliographical references caused many inconsistencies to surface, an unfortunate legacy of dBase. Much time and work therefore had to be invested to comb out as many of the inconsistencies as possible, resulting in the searchable database that is now finally presented on this website.

Projects like these are never really done; undoubtedly some data are missing or incomplete. Therefore, in case you may notice any errors while using the database, please do not hesitate to contact us and help us improve it. For information on how to reach us, please go to the contact page.

[1] This fixed end date created some dilemmas with publications that had been revised and reprinted after 1960, as well as with extensive errata and addenda on publications before 1960, but that were only published after that date themselves (take for example the MSS series: additional information, errata or even complete reprints of articles are sometimes published a couple of years after the original article appeared). The same is true for encyclopaedic works that obviously needed to be revised and reprinted from time to time to stay up-to-date. Tough choices had to be made in deciding on which volumes to use and where to pull the line: keep it rigidly at 1960 or be more lenient, allowing information officially published after 1960 to be included in the project in favour of the older data (which for today’s users would probably be more helpful). As a rule, only publications that appeared before 1960 were used, but, due to variations like the ones mentioned above, information included in the project has sometimes been taken from later works.

The Project’s Assistants

Needless to say, a project of this size is not something that can be achieved by one person alone. During the project’s 44 years running time, Han de Roos received valuable help from many project’s assistants, some of whom we would like to mention here:

  • Mrs. I. Pinkster-de Graaf (ca. 1975-1990)
  • Ms. Verpraat (ca. 1980-1990)
  • Prof. Dr. J.J.M. Hazenbos (1980-1990)
  • Dr. Jin Jie (1988-2005)
  • Dr. A. Mouton (2000-2010)
  • Dr. K.V.J. van der Moezel (2010-2011)
  • Ms. C.J. Bronkhorst, MA (2011-2019)