The Calm before the Storm: Selected Writings of Itamar Singer on the End of the Late Bronze Age in Anatolia and the Levant. By ITAMAR SINGER. Writings from the Ancient World Supplements, vol. 1. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. Pp. vii + 766, illus. $69.95 (paper).
Pax Hethitica: Studies on the Hittites and Their Neighbours in Honour of Itamar Singer. Studien zu den Bogazkoy-Texten, vol. 51. Edited by Yoram Cohen, Amir Golan, and Jared L. Miller. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010. Pp. xiv + 439, illus., portrait.
It is a melancholy experience to review the collected essays of a departed colleague, especially when the scholar was one with whom the writer had warm relations. Nonetheless, the intensive engagement with the writings of Itamar Singer, who died in October 2012, was for me most rewarding and brought home just what a great loss the field of Hittite studies has sustained with his passing. The Calm before the Storm, carefully edited by Billie Jean Collins, presents forty-two of Singer's previously published essays, perhaps only half of his total output over the years, but includes all of his essential non-monographic works on Anatolia and the Late Bronze Age Levant.
After his early study of an Old Hittite ritual (The Hittite KI.LAM Festival, Parts 1 and 2 [Wiesbaden, 1983-1984]), Singer concentrated his efforts on the political history of the Hittite empire of the late fourteenth through the early twelfth centuries B.C.E., its Syrian dependencies, its diplomatic interactions with the other Great Powers of the day, and its ultimate demise-- the "Storm" of the collection's title. The book is organized geographically, with sections on Ugarit, Amurru, Emar, Karkamis, Hatti and Mesopotamia, Hath and the West [of Anatolia], Hath and Egypt, Hath and Canaan, as well as The Last Century of the Hittite Kingdom. An epilogue considers Hittite historical writing.
Choosing which of these contributions to highlight here is challenging. If pressed, I would point to "The Political History of Ugarit" and "A Concise History of Amurru." which synthesize the multifarious bits of information available concerning these two LBA kingdoms into coherent presentations of their respective histories. Also particularly important is "The Battle of Nihriya and the End of the Hittite Empire," wherein Singer brings together material from Ugarit and Hattusa to reconstruct the perilous military situation faced by Hatti in Syria under Tudhaliya IV. But...