The Hittites were the first to discover that iron, smelted from ore and worked into weapons, tools, and armor, was far superior to the brittle bronze used by their enemies. The Hittites also mastered the art of chariot warfare, which allowed them to move quickly around a battlefield and fire arrows from a safe distance. Combined with their mastery of ironworking, these military advantages enabled the Hittites to take over other kingdoms one by one.
On the north and west frontiers, where wild tribes threatened to raid, massive defensive walls surrounded cities and fortresses. They also constructed impressive gateways, designed to be as difficult as possible to fight a way through. The Hittite army contained sappers, who built bridges over rivers and used battering-rams in siege warfare.
The king was the highest leader in the Hittite state. He ruled alongside a cabinet of assistants with expertise in the military, foreign policy and administration. The most senior was the Gal Mesedi (Chief of the Royal Bodyguards). Other important ranks included the Gal Dubsar (Chief of Scribes) and the Gal Gestin (Chief of Wine Stewards).
In later periods, a system of hereditary nobility developed in the Hittites. Its leading members possessed large estates, apparently occupying fiefs conferred by the king on conditions that they provide troops for the king's army. They were also supported by a class of courtiers, grooms, cup-bearers, and scepter-men who served as their protectors and advisers. Together, the hereditary nobility and these servants of the state constituted a powerful elite that gave the Hittites a military advantage over their rivals.