Ancient Near East - The New Hittite Kingdom

Updated: Jun 19

The road to recovery was led by a number of rulers whose histories are still vague, including two with the name Tudhaliya. They reaffirmed Hittite dominance over central and southern Anatolia, which caused Egypt and Mittani to cease their hostilities amongst each other and become allies in order to face the growing threat. To add to this, the Gasga attacked and perhaps even destroyed Hattusas, and a vassal of the west, Madduwattas, conquered southwest Anatolia and Cyprus in the mid-fourteenth century.

These setbacks were reversed by Suppiluliuma I who consolidated the Hittite homeland and improved the defenses of Hattusa. He reduced the vast kingdom of Mittani to a Hittite vassal state and the fertile Levant region, including important port cities like Byblos, were taken from the Egyptians, his main competitor at the time. Egypt was currently less attentive to its Asiatic territories, and no direct clash between the two powers ensued until after the death of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. His widow, Ankhesenamun, did the unthinkable and contacted Suppiluliuma I asking for his son, Zananza, to become her husband. This union would have made the Hittites the strongest empire the world had yet seen. However, this never happened, as his son was murdered by the Egyptian army before he crossed the Egyptian border. Ankhesenamun was forced to marry Pharaoh Kheperkheperure Ay and she disappeared from history shortly thereafter, most likely murdered.

With the death of the crown prince, Suppiluliuma I declared war and attacked the borderlands of Egypt thus conquering the remainder of the Levant. The Egyptian captives he brought back as slaves most likely carried a plague with them to Hattusas. This spread across the region in 1322 B.C. and eventually killed Suppiluliuma I and his son and successor, Arnuwandas II. This left the throne to Mursilis II, who had little experience and was regarded as no more than a child when he took the throne in 1321 B.C.

Mursilis II not only maintained control over Syria, but he conquered Arzawa in the west and attacked the Gasga in the north. After a reign of 25 years (1321-1295 B.C.), he died and left the throne to his son, Muwatallis II (1295-1272 B.C.). During his reign, Hatti's involvement in Syria led to the loss of control over its hinterland by leaving its northern flank open to attack. The Gasga took advantage of this weakness and sacked the capital. Muwatillis II continued his obsession with Syria and moved the Hittite capital to a previously obscure city in a southern region of Anatolia, Tarhuntassa. The exact location remains unknown.