Amarna letters

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Five Amarna letters on display at the British Museum, London Five Amarna letters on display at the British Museum, LondonA.jpg
Five Amarna letters on display at the British Museum, London
EA 161, letter by Aziru, leader of Amurru (stating his case to pharaoh), one of the Amarna letters in cuneiform writing on a clay tablet. Amarna Akkadian letter.png
EA 161, letter by Aziru, leader of Amurru (stating his case to pharaoh), one of the Amarna letters in cuneiform writing on a clay tablet.

The Amarna letters ( /əˈmɑːrnə/ ; sometimes referred to as the Amarna correspondence or Amarna tablets, and cited with the abbreviation EA, for "El Amarna") are an archive, written on clay tablets, primarily consisting of diplomatic correspondence between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in Canaan and Amurru, or neighboring kingdom leaders, during the New Kingdom, between c. 1360–1332 BC (see here for dates). The letters were found in Upper Egypt at el-Amarna, the modern name for the ancient Egyptian capital of Akhetaten, founded by pharaoh Akhenaten (1350s–1330s BC) during the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. The Amarna letters are unusual in Egyptological research, because they are mostly written in a script known as Akkadian cuneiform, the writing system of ancient Mesopotamia, rather than that of ancient Egypt, and the language used has sometimes been characterised as a mixed language, Canaanite-Akkadian. [1] The written correspondence spans a period of at most thirty years. [2]

Contents

The known tablets total 382, of which 358 have been published by the Norwegian Assyriologist Jørgen Alexander Knudtzon in his work, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, which came out in two volumes (1907 and 1915) and remains the standard edition to this day. [1] [3] The texts of the remaining 24 complete or fragmentary tablets excavated since Knudtzon have also been made available. [1]

The Amarna letters are of great significance for biblical studies as well as Semitic linguistics because they shed light on the culture and language of the Canaanite peoples in this time period. The letters, though written in Akkadian, are heavily colored by the mother tongue of their writers, who probably spoke an early form of Proto-Canaanite, the language(s) which would later evolve into its daughter languages, Hebrew and Phoenician. These "Canaanisms" provide valuable insights into the proto-stage of those languages several centuries prior to their first actual manifestation. [4] [5]

The letters

Amarna letter EA 153 from Abimilku. Amarna letter- Royal Letter from Abi-milku of Tyre to the king of Egypt MET 24.2.12 EGDP021809.jpg
Amarna letter EA 153 from Abimilku.

These letters, comprising cuneiform tablets written primarily in Akkadian – the regional language of diplomacy for this period – were first discovered around 1887 by local Egyptians who secretly dug most of them from the ruined city of Amarna, and sold them in the antiquities market. They had originally been stored in an ancient building that archaeologists have since called the Bureau of Correspondence of Pharaoh. Once the location where they were found was determined, the ruins were explored for more. The first archaeologist who successfully recovered more tablets was Flinders Petrie, who in 1891 and 1892 uncovered 21 fragments. Émile Chassinat, then director of the French Institute for Oriental Archaeology in Cairo, acquired two more tablets in 1903. Since Knudtzon's edition, some 24 more tablets, or fragments, have been found, either in Egypt, or identified in the collections of various museums. [6]

The initial group of letters recovered by local Egyptians have been scattered among museums in Germany, England, Egypt, France, Russia, and the United States. Either 202 or 203 tablets are at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin; 99 are at the British Museum in London; [7] 49 or 50 are at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; 7 at the Louvre in Paris; 3 at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow; and 1 in the collection of the Oriental Institute in Chicago. [8] A few tablets are at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford and Royal Museum of Art and History in Brussels. [9]

The archive contains a wealth of information about cultures, kingdoms, events and individuals in a period from which few written sources survive. It includes correspondence from Akhenaten's reign (Akhenaten who was also titled Amenhotep IV), as well as his predecessor Amenhotep III's reign. The tablets consist of over 300 diplomatic letters; the remainder comprise miscellaneous literary and educational materials. These tablets shed much light on Egyptian relations with Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, Canaan, and Alashiya (Cyprus) as well as relations with the Mitanni, and the Hittites. The letters have been important in establishing both the history and the chronology of the period. Letters from the Babylonian king, Kadashman-Enlil I, anchor the timeframe of Akhenaten's reign to the mid-14th century BC. They also contain the first mention of a Near Eastern group known as the Habiru , whose possible connection with the Hebrews—due to the similarity of the words and their geographic location—remains debated. Other rulers involved in the letters include Tushratta of Mitanni, Lib'ayu of Shechem, Abdi-Heba of Jerusalem, and the quarrelsome king, Rib-Hadda, of Byblos, who, in over 58 letters, continuously pleads for Egyptian military help. Specifically, the letters include requests for military help in the north against Hittite invaders, and in the south to fight against the Habiru. [10]

Letter summary

Map of the ancient Near East during the Amarna period, showing the great powers of the period: Egypt (green), Mycenaean Greece (orange), Hatti (yellow), the Kassite kingdom of Babylon (purple), Assyria (grey), and Mitanni (red). Lighter areas show direct control, darker areas represent spheres of influence. Amarnamap.png
Map of the ancient Near East during the Amarna period, showing the great powers of the period: Egypt (green), Mycenaean Greece (orange), Hatti (yellow), the Kassite kingdom of Babylon (purple), Assyria (grey), and Mitanni (red). Lighter areas show direct control, darker areas represent spheres of influence.

Amarna Letters are politically arranged in rough counterclockwise fashion:

  • 001–014 Babylonia
  • 015–016 Assyria
  • 017–030 Mitanni
  • 031–032 Arzawa
  • 033–040 Alashiya
  • 041–044 Hatti
  • 045–380+ Syria/Lebanon/Canaan

Amarna Letters from Syria/Lebanon/Canaan are distributed roughly:

  • 045–067 Syria
  • 068–227 Lebanon (where 68–140 are from Gubla aka Byblos)
  • 227–380 Canaan (written mostly in the Canaano-Akkadian language).

Akhenaten and Tushratta

Early in his reign, Akhenaten, the pharaoh of Egypt, had conflicts with Tushratta, the king of Mitanni, who had courted favor with his father, Amenhotep III, against the Hittites. Tushratta complains in numerous letters that Akhenaten had sent him gold-plated statues rather than statues made of solid gold; the statues formed part of the bride-price that Tushratta received for letting his daughter Tadukhepa marry Amenhotep III and then later marry Akhenaten. [11]

An Amarna letter preserves a complaint by Tushratta to Akhenaten about the situation:

I...asked your father Mimmureya [i.e., Amenhotep III] for statues of solid cast gold, ... and your father said, 'Don't talk of giving statues just of solid cast gold. I will give you ones made also of lapis lazuli. I will give you too, along with the statues, much additional gold and [other] goods beyond measure.' Every one of my messengers that were staying in Egypt saw the gold for the statues with their own eyes. ... But my brother [i.e., Akhenaten] has not sent the solid [gold] statues that your father was going to send. You have sent plated ones of wood. Nor have you sent me the goods that your father was going to send me, but you have reduced [them] greatly. Yet there is nothing I know of in which I have failed my brother. ... May my brother send me much gold. ... In my brother's country gold is as plentiful as dust. May my brother cause me no distress. May he send me much gold in order that my brother [with the gold and m]any [good]s may honor me. [11]

Amarna letters list

Note: Many assignments are tentative; spellings vary widely. This is just a guide. [3]

EA#Letter author to recipient
EA# 1 Amenhotep III to Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil
EA# 2 Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil to Amenhotep III
EA# 3 Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil to Amenhotep III
EA# 4 Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil to Amenhotep III
EA# 5 Amenhotep III to Babylonian king Kadashman-Enlil
EA# 6 Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II to Amenhotep III
EA# 7 Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II to Amenhotep IV
EA# 8 Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II to Amenhotep IV
EA# 9 Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II to Amenhotep IV
EA# 10 Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II to Amenhotep IV
EA# 11 Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II to Amenhotep IV
EA# 12 A Babylonian Princess to the King of Egypt
EA# 13 Burraburiash's Gifts to an Egyptian Princess
EA# 14 Amenhotep IV to Babylonian king Burna-Buriash II
EA# 15 Assyrian king Ashur-Uballit I to Amenhotep IV
EA# 16 Assyrian king Ashur-Uballit I to Amenhotep IV
EA# 17 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 18 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 19 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 20 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 21 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 22 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 23 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 24 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 25 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep III
EA# 26 Mitanni king Tushratta to widow Tiy
EA# 27 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep IV
EA# 28 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep IV
EA# 29 Mitanni king Tushratta to Amenhotep IV
EA# 30 Mitanni king to Philistine kings
EA# 31 Amenhotep III to Arzawa king Tarhundaraba
EA# 32 Arzawa king Tarhundaraba to King of Egypt Amenhotep III
EA# 33 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #1
EA# 34 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #2
EA# 35 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #3
EA# 36 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #4
EA# 37 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #5
EA# 38 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #6
EA# 39 Alashiya king to King of Egypt #7
EA# 40Alashiya minister to Egypt minister
EA# 41 Hittite king Suppiluliuma to Huri[a]
EA# 42Hittite king to King of Egypt
EA# 43Suppiluliuma, Hittite King, to the King of Egypt
EA# 44Hittite prince Zi[k]ar to the King of Egypt
EA# 45'Ammittamru I, Ugarit king, to the King of Egypt
EA# 46Ugarit king to Egyptian king
EA# 47Ugarit king to Egyptian king
EA# 48Heba, Queen of Ugarit, to the Queen of Egypt
EA# 49Ugarit king Niqm-Adda II to the King of Egypt
EA# 50Maidservant to the Queen of Egypt
EA# 51 Nuhasse king Addunirari to the King of Egypt
EA# 52 Qatna king Akizzi to Amenhotep III #1
EA# 53 Qatna king Akizzi to Amenhotep III #2
EA# 54Qatna king Akizzi to Amenhotep III #3
EA# 55Qatna king Akizzi to Amenhotep III #4
EA# 56Akizzi(?), the Ruler of Qatna, to Amenhotep IV, the King of Egypt
EA# 57Akizzi, the Ruler of Qatna, to Amenhotep IV, the King of Egypt
EA# 58 Tehu-Teshupa, a Ruler in North Canaan(?), to the King of Egypt
EA# 58 [Qat]ihutisupa to king(?) obverse
EA# 59 Tunip peoples to pharaoh
EA# 60 Amurru king Abdi-Asirta to Amenhotep III, the king of Egypt
EA# 61 Amurru king Abdi-Asirta to Amenhotep III, the king of Egypt #2
EA# 62Amurru king Abdi-Asirta to Pahanate, the Commissioner of Sumur
EA# 63'Abdi-Ashtarti, a Ruler in Southern Canaan (Gath?), to the king of Egypt
EA# 64'Abdi-Ashtarti, a Ruler in Southern Canaan (Gath?), to the king of Egypt #2
EA# 65'Abdi-Ashtarti, a Ruler in Southern Canaan (Gath?), to the king of Egypt #3
EA# 66Rib-Hadda, the Ruler of Byblos, to Haya, the Vizier of Egypt
EA# 67An unknown ruler in the north of Canaan to the King of Egypt
EA# 68 Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #1
EA# 69Gubal king Rib-Addi to Egypt official
EA# 70Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #2
EA# 71Gubal king Rib-Addi to Haya, the Vizier of Egypt
EA# 72Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #3
EA# 73Gubal king Rib-Addi to Amanappa, an Egyptian official #1
EA# 74Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #4
EA# 75Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #5
EA# 76Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #6
EA# 77Gubal king Rib-Addi to Amanappa, an Egyptian official #2
EA# 78Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #7
EA# 79Gubal king Rib-Addi to he king of Egypt #8
EA# 80Gubal king Rib-Addi(?) to the king of Egypt #9
EA# 81Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #10
EA# 82Gubal king Rib-Addi to Amanappa, an Egyptian official #3
EA# 83Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #11
EA# 84Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #12
EA# 85Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #13
EA# 86 Gubal king Rib-Addi to Amanappa, an Egyptian official #4
EA# 87Gubal king Rib-Addi to Amanappa, an Egyptian official #5
EA# 88Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #14
EA# 89Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #15
EA# 90Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #16
EA# 91Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #17
EA# 92Gubal king Rib-Addi to the king of Egypt #18
EA# 93Gubal king Rib-Addi to Amanappa, an Egyptian official #6
EA# 94Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #19
EA# 95Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the Egyptian Senior Official
EA# 96An army commander to Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos
EA# 97Yappah-Hadda to Shumu-Hadda
EA# 98Yappah-Hadda to Yanhamu, the Egyptian Commissioner
EA# 99The king of Egypt to the ruler of the city of 'Ammiya(?)
EA#100 The city of Irqata to the king of Egypt
EA#100 Tagi to Lab-Aya
EA#101Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #20
EA#102Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to Yanhamu(?), the Egyptian commissioner
EA#103Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #21
EA#104Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #22
EA#105Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #23
EA#106Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #24
EA#107Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #25
EA#108Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #26
EA#109Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #27
EA#110Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #28
EA#111Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #29
EA#112Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #30
EA#113Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #31
EA#114Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #32
EA#115Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #33
EA#116Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #34
EA#117Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #35
EA#118Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #36
EA#119Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #37
EA#120Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #38
EA#121Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #39
EA#122Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #40
EA#123Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #41
EA#124Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #42
EA#125Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #43
EA#126Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #44
EA#127Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #45
EA#128Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #46
EA#129Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #47
EA#129Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #48
EA#130Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #49
EA#131Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #50
EA#132Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #51
EA#133Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #52
EA#134Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #53
EA#135Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #54
EA#136Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #55
EA#137Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #56
EA#138Rib-Hadda, the ruler of Byblos, to the king of Egypt #57
EA#139 Ilirabih the city of Byblos to the king of Egypt #1
EA#140 Ilirabih the city of Byblos to the king of Egypt #2
EA#141 Beruta king Ammunira to the king of Egypt #1
EA#142Beruta king Ammunira to the king of Egypt #2
EA#143Beruta king Ammunira to the king of Egypt #2
EA#144 Zimredda, the ruler of Sidon, to the king of Egypt #1
EA#145Zimredda, the ruler of Sidon, to the king of Egypt #2
EA#146 Tyre king Abi-Milki to the king of Egypt #1
EA#147 Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #2
EA#148Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #3
EA#149 Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #4
EA#150Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #5
EA#151Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #6
EA#152Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #7
EA#153 Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #8
EA#154Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypt #9
EA#155Tyre king AbiMilki to the king of Egypth #10
EA#156 Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #1
EA#157 Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #2
EA#158 Amurru king Aziri to Dudu #1
EA#159Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #3
EA#160Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #4
EA#161 Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #5
EA#162pharaoh to Amurra prince
EA#163The King of Egypt to a Canaanite Ruler(?)
EA#164Amurru king Aziri to Dudu #2
EA#165Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #6
EA#166Amurru king Aziri to Hai
EA#167Amurru king Aziri to (Hai #2?)
EA#168Amurru king Aziri to pharaoh #7
EA#169Amurru son of Aziri to an Egypt official
EA#170 Ba-Aluia & Battiilu to the king
EA#171Amurru son of Aziri to pharaoh
EA#172A ruler of Amurru to the king of Egypt
EA#173The Ruler of (?) to the king of Egypt
EA#174Bieri of Hasabu
EA#175 Ildaja of Hazi to king
EA#176 Abdi-Risa
EA#177 Guddasuna king Jamiuta
EA#178 Hibija to a chief
EA#179The deposed ruler of Oftobihi to the King of Egypt
EA#180The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#181The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#182 Mittani king Shuttarna to pharaoh #1
EA#183Mittani king Shuttarna to pharaoh #2
EA#184Mittani king Shuttarna to pharaoh #3
EA#185 Hazi king Majarzana to king
EA#186Majarzana of Hazi to king #2
EA#187 Satija of ... to king
EA#188The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#189 Qadesh mayor Etakkama
EA#190pharaoh to Qadesh mayor Etakkama(?)
EA#191 Ruhiza king Arzawaija to king
EA#192Ruhiza king Arzawaija to king #2
EA#193 Dijate to king
EA#194 Damascus mayor Biryawaza to king #1
EA#195Damascus mayor Biryawaza to king #2
EA#196Damascus mayor Biryawaza to king #3
EA#197Damascus mayor Biryawaza to king #4
EA#198 Ara[ha]ttu of Kumidi to king
EA#199The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#200The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#2001Sealants
EA#2002Sealants
EA#201 Artemanja of Ziribasani to king
EA#202 Amajase to king
EA#203 Abdi-Milki of Sashimi
EA#204prince of Qanu to king
EA#205 Gubbu prince to king
EA#206prince of Naziba to king
EA#207 Ipteh ... to king
EA#208... to Egypt official or king
EA#209 Zisamimi to king
EA#210Zisami[mi] to Amenhotep IV
EA#2100 Carchemish king to Ugarit king Asukwari
EA#211 Zitrijara to king #1
EA#2110 Ewiri-Shar to Plsy
EA#212 Zitrijara to king #2
EA#213Zitrijara to king #3
EA#214The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#215 Baiawa to king #1
EA#216 Baiawa to king #2
EA#217The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#218The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#219The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#220 Nukurtuwa of (?) [Z]unu to king
EA#221 Wiktazu to king #1
EA#222Yiqdasu, a ruler of a Canaanite city, to the King of Egypt
EA#222Wik[tazu] to king #2
EA#223 En[g]u[t]a to king
EA#224 Sum-Add[a] to king
EA#225Sum-Adda of Samhuna to king
EA#226Sipturi_ to king
EA#227 Hazor king
EA#228Hazor king Abdi-Tirsi
EA#229Abdi-na-... to king
EA#230 Iama to king
EA#231The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#232 Acco king Zurata to pharaoh
EA#233Acco king Zatatna to pharaoh #1
EA#234Acco king Zatatna to pharaoh #2
EA#235 Zitatna/(Zatatna) to king
EA#236The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#237 Bajadi to king
EA#238Bajadi to an Eyptian Official
EA#239 Baduzana to the king of Egypt
EA#240The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#241 Rusmania to king
EA#242 Megiddo king Biridija to pharaoh #1
EA#243Megiddo king Biridija to pharaoh #2
EA#244Megiddo king Biridija to pharaoh #3
EA#245 Megiddo king Biridija to pharaoh #4
EA#246Megiddo king Biridija to pharaoh #5
EA#247Megiddo king Biridija or Jasdata
EA#248 Ja[sd]ata to king
EA#248Megiddo king Biridija to pharaoh
EA#249Ba'lu-Meher(?), the ruler of Gath-Padalla, to the king of Egypt
EA#249 Addu-Ur-sag to king
EA#250Addu-Ur-sag to king
EA#2500 Shechem
EA#251The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#252 Labaja to king
EA#253Labaja to king
EA#254 Labaja to king
EA#255 Mut-Balu or Mut-Bahlum to king
EA#256 Mut-Balu to Ianhamu
EA#257 Balu-Mihir to king #1
EA#258Balu-Mihir to king #2
EA#259Balu-Mihir to king #3
EA#260Balu-Mihir to king #4
EA#261 Dasru to king #1
EA#262Dasru to king #2
EA#263The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#264 Gezer leader Tagi to pharaoh #1
EA#265Gezer leader Tagi to pharaoh #2
EA#266Gezer leader Tagi to pharaoh #3
EA#267Gezer mayor Milkili to pharaoh #1
EA#268Gezer mayor Milkili to pharaoh #2
EA#269Gezer mayor Milkili to pharaoh #3
EA#270 Gezer mayor Milkili to pharaoh #4
EA#271 Gezer mayor Milkili to pharaoh #5
EA#272Ba'lu-Dani (Or Ba'lu-Shipti), the ruler of Gezer, to the king of Egypt
EA#273 Ba-Lat-Nese to king
EA#274Ba-Lat-Nese to king #2
EA#275 Iahazibada to king #1
EA#276Iahazibada to king #2
EA#277 Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #1
EA#278Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #2
EA#279Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #3
EA#280Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #3
EA#281Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #4
EA#282 Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #5
EA#283Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #6
EA#284Qiltu king Suwardata to pharaoh #7
EA#285 Jerusalem king Abdi-Hiba to pharaoh
EA#286 Jerusalem king AbdiHiba to pharaoh
EA#287 Jerusalem king AbdiHiba to pharaoh
EA#288 Jerusalem king AbdiHiba to pharaoh
EA#289 Jerusalem king AbdiHiba to pharaoh
EA#290Jerusalem king AbdiHiba to pharaoh
EA#290Qiltu king Suwardata to king
EA#291'Abdi-Heba, the ruler of Jerusalem, to the king of Egypt
EA#292 Gezer mayor Addudani to pharaoh #1
EA#293Gezer mayor Addudani to pharaoh #2
EA#294Gezer mayor Addudani to pharaoh #3
EA#295Gezer mayor Addudani to pharaoh #4
EA#296 Gaza king Iahtiri
EA#297 Gezer mayor Iapah[i] to pharaoh #1
EA#298Gezer mayor Iapahi to pharaoh #2
EA#299Gezer mayor Iapahi to pharaoh #3
EA#300Gezer mayor Iapahi to pharaoh #4
EA#301 Subandu to king #1
EA#302Subandu to king #2
EA#303Subandu to king #3
EA#304Subandu to king #4
EA#305Subandu to king #5
EA#306Subandu to king #6
EA#307The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#308The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#309The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#310The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#311The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#312The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#313The Ruler of (?) to the King of Egypt
EA#314 Jursa king Pu-Ba-Lu to pharaoh #1
EA#315Jursa king PuBaLu to pharaoh #2
EA#316Jursa king PuBaLu to pharaoh
EA#317 Dagantakala to king #1
EA#318Dagantakala to king #2
EA#319 A[h]tirumna king Zurasar to king
EA#320 Asqalon king Yidia to pharaoh #1
EA#321Asqalon king Widia to pharaoh #2
EA#322Asqalon king Widia to pharaoh #3
EA#323 Asqalon king Widia to pharaoh #4
EA#324Asqalon king Widia to pharaoh #5
EA#325 Asqalon king Widia to pharaoh #6
EA#326Asqalon king Widia to pharaoh #7
EA#327... the king
EA#328 Lakis mayor Iabniilu to pharaoh
EA#329Lakis king Zimridi to pharaoh
EA#330Lakis mayor Sipti-Ba-Lu to pharaoh #1
EA#331Lakis mayor SiptiBaLu to pharaoh #2
EA#332Lakis mayor SiptiBaLu to pharaoh #3
EA#333Ebi to a prince
EA#334---dih of Zuhra [-?] to king
EA#335--- [of Z]uhr[u] to king
EA#336 Hiziri to king #1
EA#337Hiziri to king #2
EA#338Zi. .. to king
EA#339... to king
EA#340...
EA#341...
EA#342...
EA#356myth of Adapa and the South Wind
EA#357myth the Ereskigal and Nergal
EA#358myth fragments
EA#359 myth Epic of King of Battle
EA#360...
EA#361...
EA#362 ...
EA#364 Ayyab to king
EA#365 Megiddo king Biridiya to pharaoh
EA#366 Shuwardata, the ruler of Gath, to the king
EA#367 pharaoh to Endaruta of Akshapa
EA#369 Amenhotep IV to Milkilu, the ruler of Gezer
EA#xxx Amenhotep III to Milkili
H#3100 Tell el-Hesi
P#3200 Pella prince Mut-Balu to Yanhamu
P#3210 Lion Woman to king
T#3002 Amenhotep to Taanach king Rewassa
T#3005Amenhotep to Taanach king Rewassa
T#3006Amenhotep to Taanach king Rewassa
U#4001 Ugarit king Niqmaddu

Chronology

William L. Moran summarizes the state of the chronology of these tablets as follows:

Despite a long history of inquiry, the chronology of the Amarna letters, both relative and absolute, presents many problems, some of bewildering complexity, that still elude definitive solution. Consensus obtains only about what is obvious, certain established facts, and these provide only a broad framework within which many and often quite different reconstructions of the course of events reflected in the Amarna letters are possible and have been defended. ...The Amarna archive, it is now generally agreed, spans at most about thirty years, perhaps only fifteen or so. [2]

From the internal evidence, the earliest possible date for this correspondence is the final decade of the reign of Amenhotep III, who ruled from 1388 to 1351 BC (or 1391 to 1353 BC), possibly as early as this king's 30th regnal year; the latest date any of these letters were written is the desertion of the city of Amarna, commonly believed to have happened in the second year of the reign of Tutankhamun later in the same century in 1332 BC. Moran notes that some scholars believe one tablet, EA 16, may have been addressed to Tutankhamun's successor Ay. [12] However, this speculation appears improbable because the Amarna archives were closed by Year 2 of Tutankhamun, when this king transferred Egypt's capital from Amarna to Thebes.

Quotations and phrases

A small number of the Amarna letters are in the class of poetry. An example is EA 153, (EA is for 'el Amarna'). EA 153, entitled: "Ships on hold", from Abimilku of Tyre is a short, 20-line letter. Lines 6–8, and 9-11 are parallel phrases, each ending with "...before the troops of the king, my lord."-('before', then line 8, line 11). Both sentences are identical, and repetitive, with only the subject statement changing.

The entire corpus of Amarna letters has many standard phrases. It also has some phrases, and quotations used only once. Some are parables: (EA 252: "...when an ant is pinched (struck), does it not fight back and bite the hand of the man that struck it?"....)

Bird in a Cage

A bird in a cage (Trap) Rib-Hadda subcorpus of letters. (Rib-Hadda was trapped in Gubla-(Byblos), unable to move freely.)

"A brick may move.."

A brick may move from under its partner, still I will not move from under the feet of the king, my lord.Used in letters EA 266, 292, and 296. EA 292 by Adda-danu of Gazru.

"For the lack of a cultivator.."

"For the lack of a cultivator, my field is like a woman without a husband."Rib-Hadda letter EA 75

"Hale like the Sun..."

"And know that the King-(pharaoh) is hale like the Sun in the Sky. For his troops and his chariots in multitude all goes very well...."See: Endaruta, for the Short Form; See: Milkilu, for a Long Form. Also found in EA 99: entitled: "From the Pharaoh to a vassal". (with addressee damaged)

"I looked this way, and I looked..."

"I looked this way, and I looked that way, and there was no light. Then I looked towards the king, my lord, and there was light." EA 266 by Tagi (Ginti mayor); EA 296 by Yahtiru.

"May the Lady of Gubla.."

"May the Lady of Gubla grant power to the king, my lord."varieties of the phrase in the Rib-Hadda letters

a pot held in pledge

a pot held in pledgeThe Pot of a Debt. EA 292 by Adda-danu of Gazru.

7 times and 7 times again

7 times and 7 timesOver and over again
7 times plus 7 EA 189, See: "Etakkama of Kadesh"(title)-(Qidšu)

I fall ... 7 times and 7..."on the back and on the stomach"

I fall, at the feet, ... 7 times and 7 times, "on the back and on the stomach" EA 316, by Pu-Ba'lu, and used in numerous letters to pharaoh. See: Commissioner: Tahmašši.

when an ant is struck..

"...when an ant is pinched (struck), does it not fight back and bite the hand of the man that struck it?"A phrase used by Labayu defending his actions of overtaking cities, EA 252. Title: "Sparing one's enemies".

Example, single letter photo gallery, multiple sides

Amarna letter EA 15, from Ashur-uballit I; see also Amarna letter EA 153.

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Shlomo Izre'el. "The Amarna Tablets". Tel Aviv University . Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  2. 1 2 Moran, p.xxxiv
  3. 1 2 Moran, William L. (1992). The Amarna Letters. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p. xiv. ISBN   0-8018-4251-4.
  4. F.M.T. de Liagre Böhl, Die Sprache der Amarnabriefe, mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Kanaanismen ('The language of the Amarna letters, with special attention to the Canaanisms'), Leipzig 1909.
  5. Eva von Dassow, 'Canaanite in Cuneiform', Journal of the American Oriental Society 124/4 (2004): 641–674. (pdf)
  6. Moran, p.xv
  7. "Collection". The British Museum.
  8. Moran, pp.xiii–xiv
  9. Baranowski, Krzysztof J.. "1. The Amarna Letters and Their Study". The Verb in the Amarna Letters from Canaan, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, 2021, pp. 4-20
  10. El-Amarna Tablets Archived 2018-03-07 at the Wayback Machine , article at West Semitic Research Project, website of University of Southern California accessed 2/8/15.
  11. 1 2 Moran, pp.87–89
  12. Moran, p.xxxv, n.123

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Amarna letter EA 19

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Ru (cuneiform) Cuneiform sign

The cuneiform ru sign is found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh. As ru it is used for syllabic ru, and alphabetic 'r', or 'u'. In the I-XII Tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh, it has specific uses showing alternate renderings besides ru; as sign no. 068, ru, 250 times, šub, 6, šup, 3, and as Sumerogram ŠUB, 1 time. In the Amarna letters, the sign is mostly used for ru, r, and u in the spelling of various words. Notably, for "bird", Akkadian language "iṣṣūru", in Amarna letter EA 28,, titled "Messengers Detained and a Protest"; the messengers are referenced as "uncaged" birds, and "aren't they free to come and go as birds do?".

Dan (cuneiform) Cuneiform sign

The cuneiform dan sign is a multi-use sign found in both the 14th century BC Amarna letters and the Epic of Gilgamesh. Besides dan,, the following are its uses :

Ia (cuneiform)

The cuneiform ia sign 𒅀, is a combined sign, containing i (cuneiform) ligatured with a (cuneiform); it has the common meaning in the suffix form -ia, for the meaning of "-mine". In the Amarna letters, the letters written to the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Pharaoh is often referenced as "Lord-mine", or especially: King-Lord-mine: "My King, My Lord". In Akkadian, the form is "Šarru-Bēlu-ia"-(King-Lord-mine), since the spelling in some Amarna letters is sometimes ŠÁR-RI for Šarru,.

Ka (cuneiform) Cuneiform sign

The cuneiform ka sign is a common, multi-use sign, a syllabic for ka, and an alphabetic sign used for k, or a; it is common in both the Epic of Gilgamesh over hundreds of years, and the 1350 BC Amarna letters. Cuneiform "ka" is nearly identical to a similar 'mid-size' to larger cuneiform sign, ša (cuneiform); because both ka, and ša have two separate specific uses, once these usage sites are identified on a specific Amarna letter, for example, the difference between the two can be followed.

Amarna letter EA 364

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Amarna letter EA 362

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Amarna letter EA 75

Amarna letter EA 75, titled: "Political Chaos", is a short to moderate length letter from Rib-Hadda, who wrote the largest number of Amarna letters in a sub-corpus, from the city-state of Byblos; Byblos contained an Ancient Egyptian colony, and was aligned with a few neighboring townsites.

References

Further reading