Mitanni


Mitanni
Kingdom of Second millenium BC.
    The kingdom of Mitanni was one of the major powers Egypt encountered in the Eighteenth Dynasty, first as an enemy and then as an ally. In the second millennium BC, the Hurrians had established several kingdoms on the Euphrates and the Habur, having branched out from their homeland in the region to the south of the Caspian Sea from c.2300 BC onwards. In one of these kingdoms, Mitanni, the Hurrian population was ruled by an aristocracy of Indo-Aryan origin: their kings had Aryan names, they worshipped Indian deities, and they had brought a special knowledge of horse-breeding which was ultimately transmitted to the peoples of Western Asia.
    In the early Eighteenth Dynasty, Mitanni provided the major threat to Egypt. It was probably mentioned in the hieroglyphic texts as early as the reign of *Amenophis I, and it was recorded that *Tuthmosis I crossed the Euphrates into Nahrin (the 'River Country'—the terms Mitanni and Nahrin are used synonymously in the Egyptian texts) and slaughtered many of the enemy, taking the others as prisoners.
    During *Hatshepsut's reign, many of the princelings of Palestine and Syria had been gathered into Mitanni's sphere of influence, and *Tuthmosis III dedicated much of his military prowess to fighting against the Mitannians, leading vigorous campaigns to drive them back beyond the Euphrates. In Year 33, in his eighth campaign, he crossed the Euphrates and inflicted a defeat, albeit temporary, on the Mitannian king. In the reign of his grandson, *Tuthmosis IV, there was a marked change in relations between the two kingdoms. Recognising that neither could successfully and permanently expel the other from northern Syria, they made peace and King Artatama I gave his daughter in marriage to *Tuthmosis IV. It was probably she who became his Great Royal Wife, *Mutemweya, and the mother of his heir, *Amenophis III.
    Amenophis III enjoyed cordial relations with his Mitannian contemporaries, the kings *Shuttarna and *Tushratta. *Shuttarna sent his daughter *Ghilukhepa to marry *Amenophis III and later, *Tushratta's daughter, *Tadukhepa, also became his wife. She was passed on to his son, *Akhenaten, and there has been speculation that she in fact became *Nefertiti, *Akhenaten's Great Royal Wife. However, it is more probable that *Nefertiti was of non-royal but Egyptian origin.
    When *Amenophis III became a sick old man, *Tushratta sent an image of the goddess Ishtar of Nineveh to Thebes to aid his recovery. The relations between Egypt and Mitanni during these reigns are documented in the Amarna Letters, the archive of clay tablets discovered at Tell el Amarna. With the accession of *Suppiluliumas as king of the *Hittites, the new king set out to attack Mitanni. *Tushratta was murdered, dissension and foreign intervention split the kingdom, and Mitanni ceased to be a great power. The alliance of Egypt, Babylonia and Mitanni, supported by the mutual friendship of the rulers and their diplomatic and marriage ties, now disappeared, and the *Hittites replaced Mitanni as the main rival, and ultimately as the chief ally, of the Egyptians
BIBL. Mercer, S.A.B. The Tell el Amarna Tablets, (two vols) Toronto: 1939; Cavaignac, E. L'Egypte, le Mitanni, et les Hittites de 1478 a 1350. Revue Hittite et Asianique 1 (1931) pp. 61-71.
Biographical Dictionary of Ancient Egypt by Rosalie and Antony E. David
* * *
   Amajor Asiatic kingdom formed in the middle of the second millennium covering northern Iraq, southern Turkey, and eastern Syria. Its rulers exercised sway over many of the local princes of Syria and Palestine. The invading Egyptian armies from Thutmose I onward clashed with Mitanni, known to the Egyptians as Naharin, and restricted its influence. Peace seems to have been arranged between the powers by the reign of Thutmose IV, who married a Mitannian princess, as did his son Amenhotep III, who had two Mitannian wives, Tadukhepa and Gilukhepa. The Mitannian kingdom was reduced to vassal status by the Hittites and finally destroyed by the Assyrians toward the end of the second millennium.
   See also Warfare.
Historical Dictionary Of Ancient Egypt by Morris L. Bierbrier

Ancient Egypt. A Reference Guide. . 2011.

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