Suppiluliumas of the Hittite Empire

A Tour Egypt Support Document

Suppiluliumas Suppiluliumas, King of the Hittites, brought to his defeated country the power of an empire and dominated the history of the Middle East for four decades, ruling from 1368 to 1328 BC. His power represented a grave threat to Egyptian dominance in the Levant, and by the end of his reign, he had crushed the Mitanni, the allies of Egypt, and extended the Hittite empire nearly as far south as Damascus.

After succeeding to the throne of his father, Tudhaliyas III, during the reign of Amenhotep III, Suppiluliumas began his reign by building up the ancient Hittite capital, Hattusas (now Bogazky in Turkey) and consolidating the Hittite lands. It may have been he who built the massive city walls that enclosed more than 300 acres of Hattusas.

Towards the end of the reign of Akhenaten, Suppiluliumas turned his attentions to the Mitanni to the east. After a first unsuccessful raid by the conventional route through the Taurus mountain passes and Kizzuwadna, he decided to cross the Euphrates to the north of the Mittani capital, Wassukani, and approach it from the rear by way of Milid (Malatya, today Arslantepes). This strategy worked: the city was sacked and King Tushratta assassinated. He then crossed the Euphrates to the south and quickly gained the allegiance of the Syrian princes. The king of Kadesh resisted but was defeated, and the Hittite armies went almost as far south as Damascus.

Leaving his son Telipinus behind to manage Syrian affairs, Suppiluliumas returned to his capital to attend to religious duties. In the meantime, the Assyrians, long subjects of the Mitanni, rose up and gained their independence, becoming a new power in the region. They formed an alliance with Artatama, the new ruler in Wassukani, who no longer looked to Egypt for support, and turned against the Hittites.

Suppiluliumas immediately returned to Syria and laid siege to Carchemish, which he won after eight days, thereby establishing Hittite rule throughout northern Syria. He set up Telipinus as King of Aleppo, and another son Piyassilis as the King of Carchemish. He also established a treaty with Tushratta's son Mattiwaza, making him the king in Wassukani of a vassal state that served as a buffer between the Hittite empire and the growing power of the Assyrians.

If the Hittite histories are to be believed, it was to Suppiluliumas that Egyptian Queen Ankhesenamun addressed her plea for a husband after the death of Tutankhamun. At first suspicious, Suppiluliumas sent emissaries to determine the authenticity of the request, and when he sent his son Zannanza some months later, he was killed en route and a war began between the Hittites and the Egyptians which is evidently undocumented in Egyptian records. Suppiluliumas could not have achieved much in the way of revenge, as he died soon afterwards, victim of the plague brought to Anatolia by Egyptian prisoners of war. Soon after that his eldest son, Arnuwandas II, also died, leaving the young and inexperienced Mursilis II (Muwatallish) in the throne, who would reign for 25 years and eventually make war and then peace with the Egyptians under Ramesses the Great.