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Myths of Babylonia and Assyria

Page: 150

When Akhenaton came to the throne Tushratta wrote to him, desiring to continue the friendship which had existed for two or three generations between the kings of Mitanni and Egypt, and made complimentary references to "the distinguished Queen Tiy", Akhenaton's mother, who evidently exercised considerable influence in shaping Egypt's foreign policy. In the course of his long correspondence with the Pharaohs, Tushratta made those statements regarding his ancestors which have provided so much important data for modern historians of his kingdom.

During the early part of the Tell-el-Amarna period, Mitanni was the most powerful kingdom in Western Asia. It was chiefly on that account that the daughters of its rulers were selected to be the wives and mothers of great Egyptian Pharaohs. But its numerous enemies were ever plotting to accomplish its downfall. Among these the foremost and most dangerous were the Hittites and the Assyrians.

The ascendancy of the Hittites was achieved in northern Syria with dramatic suddenness. There arose in Asia Minor a great conqueror, named Subbi-luliuma, the successor of Hattusil I, who established a strong Hittite empire which endured for about two centuries. His capital was at Boghaz-Köi. Sweeping through Cappadocia, at the head of a finely organized army, remarkable for its mobility, he attacked the buffer states which owed allegiance to Mitanni and Egypt. City after city fell before him, until at length he invaded Mitanni; but it is uncertain whether or not Tushratta met him in battle. Large numbers of the Mitannians were, however, evicted and transferred to the land of the Hittites, where the Greeks subsequently found them, and where they are believed to be represented by the modern Kurds, the hereditary enemies of the Armenians.

In the confusion which ensued, Tushratta was murdered by Sutarna II, who was recognized by Subbi-luliuma. The crown prince, Mattiuza, fled to Babylon, where he found protection, but was unable to receive any assistance. Ultimately, when the Hittite emperor had secured his sway over northern Syria, he deposed Sutarna II and set Mattiuza as his vassal on the throne of the shrunken Mitanni kingdom.

Meanwhile the Egyptian empire in Asia had gone to pieces. When Akhenaton, the dreamer king, died in his palace at Tell-el-Amarna, the Khabiri were conquering the Canaanite cities which had paid him tribute, and the Hittite ruler was the acknowledged overlord of the Amorites.

The star of Assyria was also in the ascendant. Its king, Ashur-uballit, who had corresponded with Akhenaton, was, like the Hittite king, Subbi-luliuma, a distinguished statesman and general, and similarly laid the foundations of a great empire. Before or after Subbi-luliuma invaded Tushratta's domains, he drove the Mitannians out of Nineveh, and afterwards overcame the Shubari tribes of Mitanni on the north-west, with the result that he added a wide extent of territory to his growing empire.

He had previously thrust southward the Assyro-Babylonian frontier. In fact, he had become so formidable an opponent of Babylonia that his daughter had been accepted as the wife of Karakhardash, the Kassite king of that country. In time his grandson, Kadashman-Kharbe, ascended the Babylonian throne. This young monarch co-operated with his grandfather in suppressing the Suti, who infested the trade routes towards the west, and plundered the caravans of merchants and the messengers of great monarchs with persistent impunity.


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