– Suppililiuma’s response to Ankhesenamun’s request for a Hittite prince expresses not only his surprise, but also his disbelief. In this episode we see a rare example of a Bronze Age king sharing his diplomatic prerogative with his court. Suppililiuma saw the Egyptian queen’s letter to be of such note that he assembled his commanders and high ranking nobles at his field camp near Carchemish to advise them of his actions. (Full Article)
– When Suppililiuma was notified of the joint Mittani and Egyptian attacks, he may have feared for his newly won empire. The text of the Deeds tell that Suppililiuma had just completed participating in the spring religious festival of sowing at the city of Uda. He would likely have expected a coordinated attack by Mitanni and Egypt to be followed by opportunistic revolts against the Hittites within Anatolia itself. (Full Article)
– Suppililiuma’s one-year campaign, often called ‘The Great Syrian War’ devastated The Hurrian Kingdom of Mitanni and left the Mitanni King Tushratta struggling to hold onto his throne from feuding factions. Over a period of a several decades beginning around 1350 BCE Suppililiuma launched an additional series of campaigns into Western Syria that eventually stripped away all Mitanni possessions west of the Euphrates and left only a narrow strip of northern Mesopotamia and the central stronghold of Karkemish in Mitanni hands. (Full Article)
– After years of intrigue and border wars the Hittite King Suppililiuma’s diplomatic maneuvering had bore fruit yet there was still a propaganda war to be won before a proper assault into Syria could begin. It was important for a Hittite king to maintain the image of a just ruler so letters were sent back and forth with the other great kingdoms making the case that the Hittite Kingdom was merely defending itself and its allies. Meanwhile the Mitanni king Tushratta protested that vassals of the Hittites had begun to raid across the Euphrates into Mitanni territory. Suppililiuma and Tushratta even wrote each other in a series of letters that would eventually led Suppililiuma to call the Mitanni king out to battle; a call which the Mitanni king would refuse. (Full Article)
– During the 14th century BCE the Hittite Kingdom of Hatti was overrun by its enemies and the capital city of Hattusa was abandoned, sacked and burned. A single Hittite text from the 13th century BCE recounts the entirety of the catastrophe which befell the kingdom and how a prince named Suppililiuma helped his father to save it. In a preamble of a decree from the Hittite King Hattusili III, who reigned a century after the events, a list of the invaders is provided along with the lands that each conquered. The land of Hatti was said to have been overrun, its cities lain to ruin, its people sent to flight into mountain strongholds. (Full Artlicle)
– During the last 150 years the belief that the Hittites were an obscure tribe mentioned in the Bible has evolved into an understanding that these intrepid warriors were actually one of the great kingdoms of the Late Bronze Age. (Full Article)
– In 1987 Ahmed Osman published the book Stranger in the Valley of the Kings, in which he proposed that the ancient Egyptian nobleman named Yuya was actually the Biblical figure Joseph. The book sold well and granted Osman status as one of the gurus of the pseudo-scientific secrets of Ancient History. Contemporary Egyptologists however saw the book’s claims as extreme and some, most notably Donald Redford, attacked Osman with scathing reviews. In spite of and perhaps due to this criticism Osman has been able to go on and publish additional books asserting even more amazing connections between the story of the Hebrew Patriarchs in the Bible and Egyptian History. Now even though 25 years has passed the supporters of Osman and his critics still remain entrenched in their arguments. Perhaps a generation is enough time for a new theory to spring from this ground so fertile with discourse. (Full Article)
– The Egyptian solar god Aten is most well known as the focus of the “Amarna Revolution” which occurred during the reign of the pharaoh Akhenaten in the mid 14th century BCE. Less well known is the gods rise to power which took place over several generations as the royal family sought to balance the power of the cult of Amun. (Full Article)
– Since the discovery of his tomb in 1922 Tutankhamun’s exact family tree has remained a mystery. Extensive DNA analysis done in 2010 concluded that the mummy of the man found buried in the tomb in the Valley of the Kings labeled as KV55 is Tutankhamun’s father. It was then declared with a leap of logic that this revealed that Akhenaten was in fact Tutankhamun’s father. However there is still an ongoing debate about the mummy in KV55. To put it simply the international team that conducted the DNA study simply resolved the debate about the KV55 mummy in the most sensational way possible.
The debate over Tutankhamun’s family tree is therefore ongoing although several notable authorities including Zahi Hawass have declared it over. Hawass and others sponsor a simple scenario of Akhenaten and Nefertiti both being children of Amenhotep III and Tiye who were married to each other. The brother and sister couple then had two children, Tutankhamun and Ankesenamun who also in turn married each other. While this theory may prove correct it is based primarily on contentious DNA results that could be interpreted in other ways. Complicating all of the best DNA analysis is the uncertainty over the effects of long term intermarriage between cousins and siblings and how this could mutate the DNA.
Furthermore this theory does nothing to address the archeological absence of Tutankhamun from the numerous family scenes depicting Akhenaten and Nefertiti with their children who are all shown as daughters. Another theory proposes that the man from KV55 might be the short lived pharaoh Smenkare who may have been another son of Amenhotep III and that his mother may have been yet another member of an extended and intermarried family. One interesting near fact amongst the many uncertainties is the central role that Queen Tiye, grandmother of Tutankhamun and the daughter of Yuya and Tuya, held in the late 18th Dynasty.
Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we take a closer look at the royal family of Egypt’s 18th dynasty.
During the 18th century BCE the Hurrians were one of many tribes that lived along the borders of the Babylonian Empire, slowly absorbing elements of its culture. This empire entrenched the use of Akkadian as the international language of diplomacy and grew wealthy from the trade routes that it controlled. Almost immediately upon Hammurabi’s death around 1686 BCE the empire began to unravel. Then almost a century later, in one of the boldest military moves of the age, the Hittite king Mursili I marched his armies from Anatolia down the Euphrates and sacked the ancient city of Babylon, capital of the diminished empire. (Full Article)