During excavations of a settlement in the south of Turkey, artifacts were found that are more than three thousand years old.
The Turkish province of Hatay has long been of interest to archaeologists. In the 1930s, the British scientist Leonard Woolley began to excavate the Tell Atchan site. He continued to work after the war. As a result, Woolley discovered palaces, temples, houses, city fortifications, which were later dated to the Bronze Age – from early to late. In total, 17 archaeological layers have been identified there. Scientists have suggested that Woolley found Alalah – the capital of the ancient kingdom of Mukish.
Oddly enough, for a long time after Woolley, no one carried out excavations. The problem is not in archaeologists, but in geopolitics: the Hatay region is controlled by Ankara, but Syria actively claimed it. The issue was finally resolved only in 2005, when Damascus renounced its claims. Archaeologists from Mustafa Kemal University in Antakya (Turkey) began to work in Hatay.
This year they found a whole series of clay tablets in Akkadian cuneiform. Preliminary dating is 3400 years. The Akkadian language was widespread in Ancient Mesopotamia and, even during the period of the Akkadian Empire in the XXIV-XXII centuries BC, served as the main connecting language for the peoples inhabiting Mesopotamia. The found tablets have yet to be thoroughly investigated and deciphered, but the head of the excavation, Murat Akar, said that, apparently, they recorded information about the management and administrative practice of the kingdom of Mukish.
Mukish is one of the vassals of the powerful Mitanni empire that existed in Northern Mesopotamia in the 17th-13th centuries BC. The Mitanni were founded by the Hurrians, a people who came from the Armenian Highlands and were very successful in their conquests. The fact is that horse breeding and the art of chariot fighting were extremely developed in the Mitanni empire. The country had difficult neighbors – Babylon and Egypt. The Hurrians fought with the first for a long time, but in the end they defeated the Middle Babylonian state, founded by Hammurabi.
The Egyptian pharaohs traditionally went on military campaigns to Palestine and Syria. They simply could not help but encounter the Hurrians. And at first, only the growing state of Mitanni was inferior to Egypt, and as a result it paid tribute. But gradually the balance of power changed to such an extent that tribute was no longer discussed. Moreover, the Mitanni warriors themselves went to Egypt and from time to time defeated the troops of the pharaohs.
In 1446 BC, Pharaoh Thutmose III west of Aleppo defeated the king of Mitanni, who fled across the Euphrates. But hostilities between Egypt and Mitanni continued, and only at the end of the 15th century BC, these states made peace and entered into a dynastic alliance. What caused the reconciliation?
The fact is that the Hittite kingdom existed in the region from the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Scientists are still arguing where the Hittites came from: either, like the Hurrians, from the Armenian Highlands, or from the Balkans. And if in the early Bronze Age they were harmless enough for their neighbors, then from about the middle of the 2nd millennium BC the Hittites, like everyone else around them, begin to reclaim their living space. And by the end of the 15th century BC, they succeeded so much that Egypt and Mitanni were forced to conclude an anti-Hittite alliance.
However, the Mitanni kings successfully coped with the collapse of their state even without the Hittites: constant civil strife and palace coups were a normal picture for that time. They were so carried away by internal squabbles that one of their vassal countries – Assyria – regained its independence and went to war against the former overlord. On the other hand, the Hittites were added.
Photo: Excavations in Alalah / © dailysabah.com