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(1321-1295 BC )


The condition in which Shuppiluliumash found the Hittite country when he began to take part in state affairs as crown prince and as military leader is summarized by a Hittite historiographer in a dry but impressive enumeration. He states that on every frontier the enemies of Khatti were attacking. The Kaska people (in the north) had invaded the Khatti Land proper and occupied Nenashsha; they had burned down the capital Khattusha itself. The people of Arzawa (in the south-west) had invaded the Lower Land and occupied Tuwanuwa and Uda; the Azzians (in the east) had invaded the Upper Lands and occupied Shamukha. Smaller inroads had been made by raids from Arawanna (in the north-west) and from Ishuwa and Armatana (in the south-east); they had reached respectively the country of Kashshiya and the country of Tegarama and the city of Kizzuwadna (i.e. Comana Cappadociae). In other words, the Hittite realm had been severely trimmed around the edges and reduced to its very core. All the outlying dependencies—not only in Syria but also in Asia Minor—had been lost.

Shuppiluliumash had already as crown prince succeeded in stabilizing the situation during the later part of the reign of Tudkhaliash, his father. He had led the Hittite armies skilfully and successfully and had restored the frontier, particularly in the north and in the east. After his accession to the throne he continued these activities with increasing vigour.

In the east the country of Azzi required close attention. Not only had the relationship of that country (also called Khayasha) to Khatti to be regularized for its own sake, this was also necessary as a preliminary to re-establishing the Hittite position in Syria which must have been in the prince’s mind already then. His campaign (or campaigns) in the east of Anatolia, the details of which escape us, culminated in the treaty with Khukkanash of Khayasha-Azzi and his chieftains, the text of which has come down to us.

The Kaska people, who, since their first appearance during the Old Kingdom in the days of Khantilish, the son of Murshilish I, had incessantly harassed the districts along the northern border, and who were the most dangerous of the enemies enumerated in the just-quoted text, must have caused the Hittites no small worries. It was fortunate that they were loosely organized and, as is occasionally stated, did not possess the institution of kingship. Being mostly swineherds and weavers they were considered as inferior by the Hittites. Nevertheless, they had seriously interrupted important state-cults, above all in the city of Nerik, cutting off that city from the capital. A prayer of Arnuwandash I and his queen Ashmu-Nikkal, composed about half a century before Shuppiluliumash, vividly shows the inconveniences and distress which this caused the responsible leaders. The capital Khattusha itself was within striking distance of the border and had—as mentioned before—just been raided when Shuppiluliumash began to reign.

The summaries of his achievements which we possess state that it took him twenty years to restore the northern frontier as it had existed before. The length of this “war” alone illustrates the effort that had to be exerted. There is hardly any doubt that it was guerrilla warfare in which success and failure quickly alternated. The long absence of the king in Syria and the ensuing weakness of the Hittites in their home country aggravated the situation. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that the town of Tumanna had to be abandoned to the Kaska people, and that the Hittite troops in Pala under the command of Khutupiyanzash, the governor of that province, were barely able to hold their own.

The Arzawa Lands—Arzawa in the narrower sense, Mira-KuwaliyaKhapallaShekha-River Land—filling the west of Asia Minor were independent during most of his reign. This is best illustrated by the fact that Tarkhundaradu of Arzawa corresponded with Amenophis III and could discuss with him marriage questions as they were customary between equals. This, of course, does not mean that Shuppiluliumash did not try to assert his influence in the Arzawa Lands; he certainly did. According to his annals he campaigned, probably based on Tuwanuwa, in Khapalla. In connexion with Wilusa—a country on the (northern) fringes of Arzawa—it is stated that the Arzawa Land (in the narrower sense) revolted while Wilusa under Kukkunnish remained loyal. The Arzawa Land was subjugated. It seems obvious, then, that Wilusa had a common border with the Khatti Land and that a treaty regulating the relationship of at least Wilusa with the Hittite king must have existed. In other words, the Hittites were more successful in the north-west than in the south-west.

Toward the end of the Great King’s reign, when he was fully occupied with the “Hurrian Wa”, the Arzawa Lands again revolted. The southern Arzawa front was then guarded by Khanuttish, the governor of the Lower Land; on the northern Arzawa front Wilusa again kept true to its obligations. It was probably then that Uhha-zitish of Arzawa—who in the meantime must have replaced Tarkhundaradu—entered into relations with the country of Ahhiyawa.

The latter, met from now on again and again as a main western adversary of the Hittites, makes at this point its first appearance in history. Its identity has been much discussed with little positive result. The similarity in name with that of the Achaeans is not sufficient reason to seek its capital in Mycenae, as has been done. The texts we possess furnish no valid argument for looking outside of Asia Minor. If Ahhiyawa, then, is an Anatolian country, the chances are in favour of a location in the north-western part of the peninsula.

Uhhazitish of Arzawa persuaded the city of Millawanda to make also a bid for independence and to seek likewise the support of Ahhiyawa. The neighbouring country of Mira became, probably at the same time, restive. Mashkhuiluwash of Mira rejected a suggestion on the part of his brothers to join the revolt and as a result had to flee to the Hittite court. He was well received: he married the king’s daughter Muwattish and was promised re­instatement in his principality. Shuppiluliumash, however, was too deeply engaged in Syrian affairs to fulfil his promise. In the Shekha-River Land things had developed in a similar manner. Here Manapa-Tattash had been driven into exile by his brothers and found a refuge in Karkisha where Hittite influence protected him. He eventually returned to his country. Mashkhuiluwash of Mira was later used by Murshilish, successor to Shuppiluliumash, when he reasserted Hittite power in that part of Asia Minor.

There is no doubt that the endless campaigning in Syria, first against Tushratta and later against the Egyptians, the Assyrians and whatever other forces tried to resist the Hittite conquest, taxed the king’s resources to the utmost. At the end of his reign, to be sure, Syria was firmly in his hands, but home affairs, both political and religious, had been sorely neglected. On the political side, even the cults of the main goddess of the country “who regulated kingship and queenship” were not properly attended to. When death came to the king, all the outlying countries revolted; besides Arzawa, the list includes Kizzuwadna (in one copy of the respective text its name has been erased, however, and, in fact, his successor held it firmly in his possession), and Mitanni (i.e. the part of it that had been restored to Kurtiwaza and his descendants), furthermore Arawana and Kalashma in the north-west of Asia Minor, Lukka and Pitashsha in its centre, and above all the Kaska people in the north. To judge from the troubles encountered by his successor in his attempts at making his empire secure, the general state of affairs at the king’s death was no less serious than it had been at the time of his accession to the throne.


Immediate successor to Shuppiluliumash was his son Arnuwandash. The potentially dangerous situation created by the death of the conqueror was aggravated by the circumstances that the new king was seriously ill and, therefore, could not demand the authority which was needed. Syria, on possession of which the Hittite claim for world leadership rested, was naturally the critical danger spot. Arnuwandash made haste to confirm his brother Piyashilish as king of Carchemish and also appointed him to the position of the tuhkantis (a high rank in the government). He was apparently the mainstay of Hittite domination in the provinces south of the Taurus, and is known from then on by the (Hurrian) name Sharre-Kushukh. With some justification one may consider it fortunate that the reign of Arnuwandash was only of short duration. Murshilish, a younger son of Shuppiluliumash, who now assumed kingship, was still very young but in the full possession of his powers. He proved himself an extremely able and energetic ruler.

When he ascended the throne, the Lower Lands, the province on the Anatolian plateau guarding the frontier toward the Arzawa lands, were administered by Khanuttish. Unfortunately, he also died immediately after the accession of Murshilish. This resulted in a precarious situation on this frontier too; it was counteracted by the despatch of reinforcements to the new governor (whose name remains unknown).

In Syria interference from the side of the Assyrians was feared. One might have expected that Ashur-uballit would choose the change over for an attack. To forestall any untoward developments Murshilish strengthened the hand of Sharre-Kushukh, his brother, the king of Carchemish. He assigned to him another army under the command of Nuwanzash. The Assyrian attack did not materialize, but no doubt the Mitanni state as it had been restored for Kurtiwaza fell into Assyrian hands. The claim of Ashur-uballit that he “scattered the hosts of the far-flung country of the Subarians” (i.e. the Mitannians) seems quite justified. It was this conquest that entitled him to assume the title of “Great King”.

Egypt might have made the situation still more embarrassing for the Hittites. However, it never seriously entered the strategic picture. It is safe to assume that it had not sufficiently recovered as yet from the strife that followed after Amenophis IV and the restoration under Horemheb.

The efforts of the first ten years of Murshilish were concentrated upon the reassertion of Hittite power, mainly in Asia Minor. His main object was the subjugation of Arzawa (south-western Asia Minor). But, before he could devote himself to his great task, he had to secure his rear. In other words he had first to punish the unruly and rebellious Kaska people. This was accomplished during the first two years and part of the third year of his reign. Only then Murshilish felt sufficiently prepared for the attack on Arzawa.

His main adversary was Uhha-zitish of Arzawa; he had aligned with himself most of the other Arzawa states: Khapalla, Mira-Kuwaliya, and the Shekha-River Land. Wilusa, it seems, once more—as under Shuppiluliumash—remained loyal to the Great King. But Uhhazitish had previously persuaded the city Millawanda—apparently an important centre—to desert the Hittites and to seek the protection of the king of Ahhiyawa. Hence a preliminary step taken by Murshilish was an expedition against Millawanda; it was successfully carried through.

In the third year the main expedition could then begin. For it Sharre-Kushukh, the king of Carchemish, joined Murshilish with a corps from Syria. The opposing forces of the Arzawa people were led by Piyama-Inarash, a son of Uhhazitish; the latter had entrusted the command to him because of ill health. Murshilish defeated him in a battle near Walma on the River Ashtarpa. Pursuing the fleeing enemy he entered Apasha, the capital of Arzawa. But Uhhazitish, he found, had fled “across the Sea”.

This left two centres of resistance to be dealt with: the mountain fortresses of Arinnanda and of Puranda. The former was captured before the third year came to a close; the latter had to be left for the next year. For the time being the Hittite king retreated to the river Ashtarpa and established camp there for the winter; the Syrian corps, it seems, went home.

When the season suitable for the resumption of warfare arrived, the final attack against Puranda was mounted. During the winter Uhhazitish of Arzawa had died, but Tapalazanaulish, another of his sons, had organized resistance. When asked to surrender he declined, an assault was launched; it resulted soon in the fall of the fortress. Tapalazanaulish escaped and sought refuge with the king of Ahhiyawa. It seems that Murshilish demanded his extradition and that it was granted. If so, we must assume that between the Hittites and Ahhiyawa a treaty existed which made provisions for the extradition of fugitives.

Thus Murshilish emerged as the victor over Arzawa. The princes of the other Arzawa states drew quickly the consequences and surrendered without further resistance. Both Targashnallish of Khapalla and Manapa-Tattash of the Shekha-River Land were generously treated and reinstated as Hittite vassals. The affairs of Mira, long unattended to, were also settled when Murshilish passed through on his way home; the new ruler was to be Mash-khuiluwash, who, since his flight to Shuppiluliumash, had fought on the Hittite side. The treaties which at that time were concluded with Manapa-Tattash and Targashnallish are preserved. What provisions were made with the Arzawa Land proper is unknown; since it is later found in the Hittite camp, the assumption seems safe that a willing member of the Arzawa dynasty swore an oath of allegiance to Murshilish.

The fifth, sixth, and probably also seventh years again required the king’s presence on the Kaskean frontier. Beginning with the seventh year, operations shifted to Azzi-Khayasha in the far east of Anatolia. Before Anniya, king there, could be dealt with decisively, grave complications arose. The beginning of the ninth year brought alarming news from Syria: the Nukhash Lands and Kinza had revolted. Suspicion seems justified that Egypt, now firmly reorganized under Horemheb, was behind the unrest. Sharre-Kushukh, the Hittite viceroy in Syria, had to invoke the treaty with Niqmaddu of Ugarit and ask for military help from him. At the same time the enemy from Khayasha had invaded the Upper Land, taken the town Ishtitina and laid siege to KannuwaraMurshilish himself was obliged to go to Kumanni in order to perform long-delayed religious duties. Sharre-Kushukh was able to restore order in Syria sufficiently so that he could come up and join his brother, the Great King, in Kumanni. However, he fell ill there and died quite unexpectedly. With him Murshilish lost his ablest helper, also the man to whom the task of protecting Syria would naturally have fallen.

His death was the signal for new disturbances in Syria. More serious still, it moved the Assyrians to make an attack on Carchemish. Thus Murshilish was faced with weighty decisions of a military kind. He finally dispatched the general Nuwanzash to take command on the Khayasha front and sent another general Inarash to deal with the Nukhash Lands and with Kinza. He himself went to Ashtata on the Euphrates, and Inarash was ordered to meet him there on his return. They both were then to go together to Aleppo and Carchemish.

Matters went according to plan. The Syrian rebels were punished. It was at that time that Aitakama of Kinza who had played a part in Syrian affairs during the days of Shuppiluliumash met his death. He had revolted, it seems, because he saw a chance for regaining his independence. However, his son Ari-Teshub opposed his father’s step and had him murdered. Ari-Teshub was brought back by the victorious general to face Murshilish, who had in the meantime reached Ashtata; he was reinstalled by the Great King as the prince of KinzaMurshilish then went to Carchemish and installed there [.. .] Sharruma, the son of Sharre-Kushukh, his dead brother. At the same time Talmi-Sharruma, a son of Telepinush, was made king in Aleppo. The treaty concluded with the latter has survived. It is noteworthy that Carchemish, at that time, had clearly overtaken Aleppo as the most important centre of Hittite power in Syria. It was the king of Carchemish who played the role of something like a viceroy of Syria.

It was probably then that Murshilish confirmed Niqmepa, the king of Ugarit. He renewed with him the treaty which his father Shuppiluliumash had concluded with NiqmadduNiqmepa’s father. The new treaty contains a detailed description of the frontier between Ugarit and Mukish.

While Murshilish was in Syria, Nuwanzash in the north had accomplished his mission. The king of Khayasha who had invaded the Upper Land had been forced to retreat and the siege of Kannuwara lifted. The way for a campaign against Khayasha was thus free. However, the season was too far advanced for any serious operation in this mountainous region. Therefore, only small raids were executed and a larger campaign prepared for the coming spring. The king’s tenth year passed before Khayasha was brought to its knees. Although its actual submission did not take place before his eleventh year, the Great King could consider the task of reasserting himself as completed with the end of the tenth year. The so-called “Ten-year Annals” depict matters in this light.

It would be untrue to assume that Murshilish was saved the necessity of making incessant efforts through the rest of his reign for maintaining the position he had won. In fact it is known that in his twelfth year a new uprising in the Arzawa lands took place. It was instigated by a man named E.GAL.KUR (Hittite reading unknown) about whom nothing further is known, but who may well have been a successor of Uhhazitish and Piyama-InarashMashkhuiluwash of Mira-Kuwaliya was implicated and had to flee when Murshilish undertook a punitive expedition. Kupanta-Inarash, his adopted son, who, on the occasion of his father’s first feoffment, had been designated crown-prince became his successor. The text of the treaty concluded with him is known.

It is very likely that here again, as before, the king of Ahhiyawa played a sinister role in the background. It is certain that he pretended to be an equal of the Great King of the Khatti Land; one also has the impression that the power of Ahhiyawa was on the upswing. This is important for the overall view. For it indicates that the Hittite kings had, from this time on, to be alert to developments in the west also. As though it had not been enough of a strain to keep a constant eye on Egypt and Assyria!

The Euphrates frontier was far from being stable. The pressure from the Assyrians was incessant and their attempts at conquering as much of the former Mitannian territory as they could never slackened. If Murshilish was to continue the role in world politics on which his father had embarked he had no choice but to maintain a firm hold on Syria. As before, much of the burden fell upon the ruler of Carchemish, now Shakhurunuwashanother son of Sharre-Kushukh.

One can also discern a tendency to curtail the power of the Syrian vassals as though the overlord was not entirely certain of their loyalty. The secession of Siyanni from Ugarit, which halved the territory controlled by Niqmepa, was recognized by the Hittite overlord and Shiyanni was placed under supervision from Carchemish. When Abirattash of Barga raised old claims to the city of Yaruwanda against the Nukhash Land, the case was decided in favour of the former. He was thereby rewarded for the support he had given the Hittite king when Nukhash had risen against him. The Hittites adhered, wherever the occasion presented itself, to a policy of divide et impera.

Further south Amurru developed into a champion of Hittite domination. The fact that the once so unruly Aziru, now rather advanced in age, had remained true to his oath of loyalty when Nukhash and Kinza revolted, must have been a source of satisfaction to Murshilish. He reaffirmed his friendship with Amurru by installing Aziru’s son Du-Teshub as his successor and soon thereafter also his grandson Tuppi-Teshub.

It is quite possible, though not specifically attested, that Murshilish undertook himself another campaign in Upper Mesopotamia or at least sent one of his generals there. Muwatallish, his successor on the Hittite throne, counts Mitanni as one of his vassal states. It seems to have been regained from the Assyrians in the preceding reign.

What we possess of annals from the later years of Murshilish—it is unfortunately incomplete—does not relate any large-scale military operations anywhere. In quite detailed manner it speaks about never-ending guerrilla warfare on the Kaskean frontier. These expeditions were routine to the king and had the nature of police actions. If considerable space was given to them in the royal annals it seems to indicate that nothing of greater importance was to report. Later on, we find firm military control established all along the Kaskean border, a veritable limes. We do not know who first built it, but since from the time of Murshilish onwards the scheme worked with some measure of success, we may infer it was he who initiated it.

In a long reign Murshilish succeeded in firmly organizing the empire which he had inherited from his father. As in the days of Shuppiluliumash it spread from the Lebanon and the Euphrates in the south to the mountains of Pontus in the north and to the western reaches of Asia Minor. It was a continental power in the sense that it only accidentally, so to speak, reached the sea, and certainly did not extend beyond it. The negative fact should be stressed that the island of Cyprus—Alashiya as it was then called —did not form part of the Hittite realm. Its kings had corresponded as independent rulers with Amenophis IV, and it served as asylum for all those who, in danger of their lives, had to flee from the continent.

Little is known about the internal affairs of the Hittite Empire during the reign of Murshilish. Worthy of note is his conflict with Tawannannash, last queen of Shuppiluliumash. She had survived her husband and was reigning queen also during the first part of the following reign. She was accused of various offences, above all of having caused the death of the young king’s wife by black magic. The incident is mentioned in prayers which seek to determine the reasons for divine anger and the ensuing misfortune. There seems to have been some doubt as to whether the steps taken against Tawannannash had been entirely legitimate. The affair had political overtones, since Tawannannash was originally a Babylonian princess.

A word remains to be said about the chronology of the reign of Murshilish. Its beginning is approximately fixed by the death of his father Shuppiluliumash, which took place several years after that of Tutankhamun (c. 1352), i.e., about 1346. The preserved parts of the annals of Murshilish justify the assumption that his reign covered more—and probably not much more—than twenty-two years. If we estimate that it lasted about twenty-five years, we come down for its end to about 1320, or a few years before that. The Syrian campaign of the pharaoh Sethos I may fall in the very end of his reign, or when his son Muwatallish had recently succeeded him.



MUWATALLISH (1292-1272)


The sources at our disposal for the reign of Muwatallish are rather poor. Moreover, they are most of them not impartial toward the king. Much of the little we do know must be culled from the texts of Khattushilish, his younger brother and rival, which make it abundantly clear that he had personal ambitions irreconcilable with the position held by his brother. The information thus gathered hardly does justice to Muwatallish. At least it gives a one-sided picture which belittles the king’s achievements and unduly stresses those of the younger brother.

At first the relations between the brothers were cordial. As soon as Muwatallish assumed kingship, he made his brother not only Great Majordomo (GAL ME-SE-DI) but also field-marshal of the Hittite armies. In addition he appointed him governor of the Upper Land which included the important town Shamukha. In this capacity Khattushilish replaced Arma-Tattash, who as the son of Zidash, a former Great Majordomo, was cousin to the late king. The power thus vested in the prince was quite extraordinary. No wonder then that his enemies—and above all Arma-Tattash and his friends—grew envious and denounced him to the king; they asserted that Khattushilish nursed ambitious plans, in fact aspired himself to the kingship over the Khatti Land. Whatever truth might have resided in such accusations, Muwatallish trusted his brother and rejected them as malicious slander.

As field-marshal of the Hittite armies Khattushilish claims to have conducted numerous campaigns for his brother, both offensively and defensively. Nothing specific is known of these military activities, but, as far as we can see, they were limited to the northern frontier area where Khattushilish ruled as governor. Later in the reign of Muwatallish, when the Great King personally undertook a campaign to the Arzawa Lands, his brother had to concentrate his efforts on the Kaska people. The king’s absence, as was to be expected, provoked serious raids on their part. Khattushilish speaks often years of warfare he had to go through. There is every reason to believe that the unruly neighbours continued their harassment indefinitely, although the territory affected at one and the same time always remained small. The so-called Kaskean War can hardly have been more than an annoying series of small-scale raids and counter-raids.

Neither do we know details of the king’s campaign against Arzawa, but we can at least recognize some of its results. At that time the term Arzawa Lands comprised four principalities: Arzawa proper, Mira-KuwaliyaKhapalla and Wilusa. In the end, it seems, all four of them remained Hittite dependencies, their rulers vassals of the Great King. King of Arzawa was probably Piyama-Inarash, either the same person who had fought against Murshilish or a younger member of the same dynasty. In Mira-Kuwaliya the kingship was still held by Kupanta-Inarash, who had been installed by Murshilish. In Khapalla we find one Ura-Khattushash as ruler. And in Wilusa Muwatallish placed Alak-shandush upon the throne; the customary treaty, then concluded, has come down to us. The Shekha-River Land is no longer counted as an Arzawa Land; its legal status must have changed in the meantime. Manapa-Tattash who also had been a vassal of Murshilish was in control there when Muwatallish became king. When he died his son Mashturish succeeded him, and the Great King gave his sister in marriage to him. Thus domination of the most important countries adjacent to Hittite territory was complete.

On the northern frontier, even after the successful conclusion of the Arzawa campaign, conditions remained unsettled. The Kaska must have made dangerous inroads. For Kahha, where Khattushilish, despite depleted forces, claims to have won an important victory over the Kaska people lies far to the south. He was also able, so he says, to repel a dangerous attack which had been launched from the town of Pishkhuru.

While all this was going on, Muwatallish began to prepare for a major war in Syria. As will be pointed out later, war in the south became inevitable when Egypt, reorganized by the pharaohs of the nineteenth dynasty, resumed its traditional policy of domination there. This test, Muwatallish foresaw, would be crucial. Wise strategist that he was, he therefore had to concentrate as many troops as he could possibly muster. With this goal in mind he saw to it that the far-flung system of fortifications which already existed along the Kaskean frontier was strengthened so that he could withdraw most of his troops from the area. As a precautionary measure he moved his capital from Khattusha,which was considered too close to the border, to Tattashsha and had the state deities and also the manes of the royal family brought there for safe-keeping. In the north Khattushilish was left in command. To the territory which he had administered so far the whole frontier zone—largely devastated and depopulated—was added, including Pala and Tumanna. Furthermore, he was made king in Khakpish, the territory of which included the important cult centre of Zippalanda, a town holy to a Storm-god who, as the son of the Sun-goddess of Arinna, was highly venerated. The power of Khattushilish, very considerable before, was thus still further increased, and no doubt he was now the most powerful man in the Khatti Land, second only to the Great King himself. After the Syrian campaign, in which Khattushilish took part as a military commander of the army contingent raised in his province for the event, his prestige rose further by his marriage to Pudu-Kheba, the daughter of Bentib-sharre, the local king of Lawazantiya.

Khattushilish was doubtless ambitious; the power he had accumulated might have led a lesser man into temptation. Thus a situation had been created which led to internal strife soon afterwards.