My little baby

hittites and the security council


Did you know that at the entrance of the United Nations Security Council, there exists a tablet in cuneiform which has the world’s oldest (known) peace treaty, between the Egyptians and the Hittites during the reign of Ramses II.


This long, but engaging documentary reveals that for most of the past three thousand years, the only proof we had of Hittite civilization was a brief verse or two in the Bible. Then we discovered in pre-modern Turkey remanets of their glyphs, although we were completely clueless as to the tongue it was written in. It turns out they were a massive Empire which conquered other Kingdoms in Asia Minor , and by 1200 BCE , they had a bloody battle with the Egyptians , which was really a stalemate…


but the Pharaoh commemorated as a victory at the entrance of Abu simbel.

After that the peace treaty was written. When they both realized they couldn’t win without destroying each other. — (It is a special treat to see the Egyptian scholar in the documentary discuss this aspect of the treaty, no doubt, the Egyptian-Israeli accords of 1979 are on his mind.)

But it was an Empire that rivaled Egypt , I see perhaps a Proto-Islamic civilization, much like the Olmec were a precursor to the Aztec and Maya.

Perhaps the most insightful observation in the documentary, was that the reason this civilization was ascendant, and we found so many tablets of their records and Royal letters, was because not only did they adopt all the gods of the people they conquered (their Pantheon had a thousand Gods, it was hard to keep track by the end) but it was because they loved learning and kept alive the culture and religion of the people they conquered, in writing too. Perhaps the Semitic love of the written word has its roots here.

But other than Scholars of ancient Near Eastern history, who knew that this civilization was so great? And we have many lessons to learn from them today.

Islamic Liberalism: Real or False Hope?


Can Islam make its peace with liberal democracy, as Christianity and other religions did after their own illiberal ages? Or is there something different about Islam, making it inherently incompatible with a secular government and a free society? Akyol, a longtime defender of “Islamic liberalism,” is optimistic. Shadi Hamid is more pessimistic, arguing that Islam is “exceptional,” in the sense of being essentially resistant to liberalism. Please join us for this timely and provocative debate.