The Near East in the Amarna Letters c. 1345–1330 BCE


Map Code: Ax00016

The Amarna letters were clay tablets excavated from El-Amara, Pharaoh Akhenaten’s city. Spanning over 30 years and written in Akkadian, the lingua franca of the Far East, they are the correspondence between the Egyptian administration and its representatives in the occupied territories. These letters provide an abundance of information about life in Mesopotamia and Phoenicia. There are also references to the early Hebrews, a near Eastern tribe, known as the Habiru. Importantly, they also provide a narrative of the first occupation of Amurru by the Hittite, Suppiluliuma I. It seems that its ruler, Aziru, switched his allegiance from Egypt and colluded in the Hittite expansion. There is also a chain of correspondence centred on the aggressive warlord Labayu, who defends himself against neighbouring cities’ complaints about his raids and is slaughtered in a battle in Gina.

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