Learn more about Suppiluliuma I
Suppiluliuma I (Shuppiluliuma) was king of the Hittites (ca. 1358 BC – 1323 BC). He achieved fame as a great warrior and statesman, successfully challenging the then-dominant Egyptian empire for control of the lands between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates.
Suppiluliuma began his career as advisor and general to Tudhaliya III, then based at Samuha. In this capacity he defeated the Hittites' enemies among the Hayasa and the Kaskas. Both enemies then united around charismatic leaders to counter him; of these Karanni founded a semblance of a royal court in Hayasa, and Piyapili failed to do likewise for the Kaska. Suppiluliuma and Tudhaliya defeated these threats in turn, to the extent that the Hittite court could settle in Hattusa again.
At some point, Suppiluliuma deposed and probably murdered his liege. Some of the priests later reported this to Suppiluliumas's son, successor, and biographer Mursili II, holding it as an outstanding crime of the whole dynasty.
Suppiluliuma married a sister to the Hayasan king Hukkana, and his daughter Muwatti to Maskhuiluwa of the Arzawan state Mira. He retook Arzawan territory as far as Hapalla. His most permanent victory was against the Mitanni kingdom, which he reduced to a client state under his son-in-law Shattiwazza. He was also a master builder of large stone structures decorated with stone reliefs. It was during his reign that concepts of the sacred nature of royal leaders developed.
His success encouraged the widow of the Egyptian king Nibhuruyira (usually identified with Akhenaten or Tutankhamun) to write to him, asking him to send one of his sons to be her husband and rule Egypt, since she had no heir and did not wish to marry a commoner. Suppliluliuma dispatched an ambassador to Egypt to investigate; he reported that the situation was accurately described, and the king decided to take advantage of this windfall; unfortunately, Prince Zannanza died on the way, and the marriage alliance never was consummated.
Suppililiuma was furious at this turn at events and unleashed his armies against Egypt's vassal states in Canaan and Northern Syria capturing much territory.
Unfortunately, many of the Egyptian prisoners carried a plague which would eventually ravage the Hittite heartland and lead to the deaths of both of Suppiluliuma I and his successor, Arnuwanda II.
The Annals of Suppiluliuma, compiled after his death by his son Mursili II, is an important primary source for the 14th century BC. One of Suppiluliuma's letters, addressed to Akenaten, was preserved in the Amarna letters (EA 41) archive at Akhetaten. It expresses his hope that the good relations which existed between Egypt and Hatti under Akhenaten's father would continue into Akhenaten's new reign.
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