Hittite Fortifications 1650 – 700 by Konstantin Nossov

    When a local bookstore had an Osprey Publishing book for cheap (especially a Hittite focused one no less), I knew I had to bring Ospreys 73rd entry into its “Fortress” series home. Hittite Fortifications 1650 – 700 BC, authored by Konstantin Nossov and illustrated by Brian Delf, is a highly specific title, but for someone studying the Hittites (like me), this small book packs in a ton of information. This book deals with many Hittite fortifications and structures from the Hittite Old Kingdom through the Hittite Empire and down to the end of the Neo-Hittites.

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    The only flaw I can give this book is that it can be a little dry when too many numbers for measurements are listed close together. And that’s about it. Also, in reality, this “flaw” really just emphasizes how much scholarship and detail has gone into the research and writing of the book. We have measurements for wall heights, thicknesses, numbers of gates, doors on the gates, the number of towers, the degrees of incline, lengths of everything, and even the number of pillars in a temple if it is known. Sometimes it seems a little over the top, but the tremendous amount of detail is still appreciated and stands out in the book.
    The illustrations of many of the fortifications and structures found all through the book are amazing, so here is a well deserved shout out to Brian Delf. Some of the structures are cross sectioned in the illustrations which really go far in showing how these defenses were actually made. There are also ample photographs of actual sites or views from the archaeological remains which demonstrate the lay of the land and explain certain nuances of each fortification. The author does a great job giving something of a historical overview of many of the fortifications to set them in their proper contexts. What is interesting is that all kinds of fortifications are examined, not just citadels and walls. For example, frontier fortresses, temples, entire towns, and even defensive siege works (such as granaries and reservoirs) are also examined. I also appreciated when the author admitted when something is not known, such as how a certain location would actually have been defensible when it seems fairly exposed. He also counters other scholars’ arguments when need. In particular his defense of Hittite ramparts actually being used for defensive purposes (rather than the rampart actually being essentially aesthetic) was spot on. Lastly, I learned many things about Hittite fortifications that I had no real knowledge of before, such as their mysterious use of many (somewhat problematic) postern tunnels.
    Overall, I was extremely pleased with Hittite Fortifications. If you study or like to learn about the Hittites, ancient near eastern building practices, or if you like learning about castles or fortifications of any kind, you need to check this book out. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for other books in Osprey’s “Fortress” series.
    5 out 5 stars.